Kroger has launched a program to sell “ugly” produce alongside its other fruits and vegetables. The produce will be branded as “Pickuliar Picks,” and is part of Kroger’s Zero Hunger/Zero Waste program aimed to help eliminate hunger in the communities it serves and slash food waste company-wide by 2025.
Kroger unveiled plans for the program last week in Washington, DC. A senior innovation manager for the company noted that 6 billion pounds of “ugly” or imperfect fruit and vegetables go unused each year because of below-average appearance or size. In total in the United States, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that over 130 billion pounds of food is wasted every year in the retail and consumer sectors.
This move puts Kroger, the largest grocery chain in the United States, in line with other large grocery chains that have announced similar “imperfect produce” initiatives in recent years. It also adds to the company’s existing efforts to prevent food waste and fight hunger — they currently work with Feeding America and more than 100 local food banks. They estimate that in 2016 their donations of food and funds provided 330 million meals.
Unfortunately, Kroger’s initiative came with photo mock-ups of plastic wrapped fruits and veggies. It’s crucial that grocery stores recognizing food waste as an issue also recognize that containers and packaging are a huge problem, as well. An estimated 23% of landfill is made up of packaging and containers. Hopefully as Kroger and other national chains become more eco-minded they will take note and follow the lead of smaller organizations striving to be zero-waste while making sure everyone has food to eat, no matter their financial situation.