Walmart Piloting Program To Sell “Ugly Produce” At A Discount

Not every apple is a shiny, smooth round orb of deliciousness. Some come with little dents or a few off-colored spots, but that doesn’t make those pieces of produce any less delicious. Still, you might be hard pressed to find those imperfect apples, pears, tomatoes, peppers, and other fruits and vegetables at your local store. That’s about to change for some Walmart customers, though. 

The big box store announced this week that, in an attempt to reduce the amount of food wasted in the U.S. each year, it would pilot a program in which 300 stores in Florida will sell imperfect produce at a discount.

To begin, the company will only sell blemished “I’m Perfect” apples in two- and five-pound bags.

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The company says the move is a result of working with suppliers to build the infrastructure and processes that create a new home for perfectly imperfect produce.

“While the texture and flavor remain perfect, the exterior damage usually renders these fruits unsellable in the fresh market because they fail to meet traditional grade standards,” Shawn Baldwin, senior vice president for global food sourcing, produce and floral for Walmart, writes in a company blog post.

In addition to helping to reduce food waste, Walmart says the decision to sell imperfect produce will assist producers who are thrown a curveball by Mother Nature during the growing season.

“Because ugly produce can occur unexpectedly in any growing season or crop, we want to have the systems in place to offer this type of produce whenever it may occur,” Baldwin said.

Walmart says that it will also work with its producers to find alternative uses for the “less than gorgeous” fruits, such as making apple juice or selling small apples for lunch kits.

The mega-retailer isn’t the first grocer to wade into “ugly produce” sales. NPR reports that Whole Foods began selling imperfect produce at some of its California stores this spring. Around that same time, Giant Eagle announced a small pilot program to sell less-than-perfect produce at a discount in its Pittsburgh-area stores. The Times Union reports that grocer Hannaford also began selling blemished produce in May.