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    An Imperfectly Excellent Solution

    'Ugly produce' in the eye of the beholder

    By Meg Major, EnsembleIQ

    In the fertile, post-harvest phase of an intriguing NPR report about W. Sacramento, Calif.-based Raley's pilot rollout of "Real Good" ugly produce – which launches this week in 10 of its 118 stores – Church Brothers, a Salinas, Calif.-based grower/processor/shipper of more than 500 fresh vegetable SKUs, in conjunction with Compass Group USA, is activating its own #ImperfectVeg platform to help reduce both food waste and water usage while supporting the ag community.

    Prior to proceeding, it's only fitting to pause and tip our toque to the Charlotte, N.C.-based, ugly-produce pioneering Compass Group – a leading national foodservice company, and its sister Bon Appétit Management subsidiary – which officially debuted its Imperfectly Delicious Produce (#IDP) program this March that plants perfectly edible – albeit unattractive veggies and fruits in the grateful hands of unpretentious, value-seeking shoppers.

    Indeed, a natural fact in the food industry is the plethora of wholesome, fresh fruits and vegetables which get discarded every day because of their unorthodox size, shape or color – some or all of which aren't exactly "plum" with established grading specs and standards.

    Since first piloting the IDP program in May 2014 with two large customers in California, Pa., and Washington State, the sister Compass companies are rolling it out in Oregon and Washington, D.C., with sights set on national expansion around the next bend. To date, more than 10,000 pounds of 31 varieties of fruits and veggies – from misshapen organic carrots and leeks to loose kale leaves – were recovered and suitably enjoyed during just the first few months of the pilot.

    Ugly the New Pretty

    “The trend is going viral in the foodservice sector due to the Compass Group helping tell the #IDP story and build awareness with restaurant operators, chefs and consumers,” says Vince Ballesteros, Church Brothers' VP of business development. “We are seeing more support and requests for these edible and nutritious fresh produce items, and we’re working with our distribution partners to make the introduction and implementation of these products is successful."

    By Meg Major, EnsembleIQ
    • About Meg Major Veteran supermarket industry journalist Meg Major brings a wealth of experience to her role as Chief Content Editor of Progressive Grocer. In addition to her editorial duties, Major also spearheads the retail food industry’s premier women’s leadership recognition platform, Top Women in Grocery. Follow her on Twitter at @Meg_Major, connect with her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/megmajor, or email her at [email protected]

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