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    Produce Specifications (Imperfect Produce)

    Diversion Potential:
    266K Tons

    Economic Value Per Ton:
    $1,039

    GHGs Reduced:
    422K Tons

    Water Saved:
    39B Gallons

    Definition

    Accepting and integrating the sale of off-grade produce (short shelf life, different size/shape/color), also known as "imperfect produce", into food business menu planning and product lines

    Challenges

    • Retail, restaurant, and foodservice buyers are often unfamiliar with cost-saving opportunities associated with buying imperfect produce and are not offered it by their suppliers. Education is needed on how such products could replace (foodservice) or supplement (retail) existing produce purchasing.
    • Some retailers have concerns about the impact of imperfect produce on their brands.
    • Creativity is needed in menu planning for foodservice and institutions.
    • Economics for farmers are unclear, since cosmetically imperfect produce may partially cannibalize sales for top-tier, cosmetically perfect products.

    Stakeholder Actions

    • Businesses can set up pilots to partner with individual farmers and distributors to assess the economics and culinary dynamics of utilizing imperfect produce.
    • Entrepreneurs and existing produce suppliers can support sourcing, differentiated marketing and branding, and innovative processing for imperfect produce.
    • Foundations and USDA grants can cover initial costs and farm labor training, support marketing and educational efforts to farmers and consumers to stimulate adequate supply and demand for imperfect produce.
    • State and federal governments can include stipulations in purchasing contracts to support the purchase of cosmetically imperfect products.
    • Nonprofits and entrepreneurs can bring understanding of the labor and harvesting challenges that farms face, based on their existing gleaning and seconds programs, to uncover new market opportunities.

    Examples & Resources

    • Two startups, Hungry Harvest and Imperfect Produce, are sourcing imperfect produce from local farmers and delivering weekly boxes to consumers

    • Bon Appetit Management Company launched the Imperfectly Delicious Produce program in 2014. By engaging directly with farmers and distributors to procure imperfect produce and working with chefs to incorporate this supply into menu offerings, the company pioneered a novel approach to waste reduction that it continues to expand today.

    Related Solutions

    Top Rated Solution:
    Most Cost Effective

    Packaging Adjustments

    Modifying packaging sizes and designs to optimize consumer consumption and avoid residual container waste

    $3,443 /ton
    in financial benefit

    208 K tons/yr
    in diversion potential

    0 M meals/yr
    meals recovered

    830 K tons/yr
    in GHG reduction

    100 B gal/yr
    in water conservation

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    jobs created

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    Top Rated Solution:
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    Standardized Date Labeling

    Standardizing food label dates, including eliminating visible “sell by” dates, to reduce consumer confusion

    $4,547 /ton
    in financial benefit

    398 K tons/yr
    in diversion potential

    0 M meals/yr
    meals recovered

    1,593 K tons/yr
    in GHG reduction

    192 B gal/yr
    in water conservation

    0
    jobs created

    Learn How >
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