Meijer offers imperfect food waste solution
A new initiative at all Meijer stores blends sustainability and merchandising to help shoppers pay less for less than perfect produce and fight food waste in the process.
The Midwest operator of 235 supercenters and grocery stores rolled out the Misfits brand of produce from Robinson Fresh to all its stores in September. The aptly named Misfits brand has a simple value proposition with multiple beneficiaries. Shoppers save between 20% and 40% by buying perfectly edible items that are imperfect cosmetically. Mejier wins because stores receive product daily adding a bit of treasure hunt to the shopping experience with items presented in specially designed merchandising displays. Robinson Fresh and its farmers win because products that previously had to be disposed of or went unharvested are now saleable.
“Meijer offers more than 600 types of produce, so the Misfits program has been an incredible extension to our overall selection,” said Peter Vail, Vice President of Produce, Deli and Bakery for Meijer. “There is an inner beauty of this perfectly-imperfect produce. Our customers have responded well to the produce made available through the Misfits program.”
The Misfits program rolled out at all Meijer locations in September and already a quarter million pounds (250,000 pounds!) of Misfit products have been sold.
“We understand there is produce left in the field because farmers don’t think there is a market for it,” says Craig Arneson, Robinson Fresh general manager of the north region. “With the Misfits program, farmers have an outlet to sell more produce and customers have an opportunity to save money and help reduce waste.”
While expansion of the program at Meijer is helping reduce food waste, the tonnage sold has little impact on the nation’s food waste issue. Currently, the United Nations estimates between 20% and 40% percent of produce harvested each year is thrown away because it does not meet accepted standards for store shelves. And once product reaches store shelves it can still be wasted, which costs retailers money in disposal fees and contributed to issue of organic matter in landfills. When food cannot be donated, Meijer strives to recycle it through composting, anaerobic digestion or animal feed. Last year, Meijer recycled nearly 50 million pounds of food waste.