Sprouts Farmers Market has introduced a program in its 130 California stores meant to reduce food waste by offering imperfect organic produce at a reduced price. The program, Rescued Organic, was announced by the natural and organic grocery chain in January. The flawed gems may be “misshapen, under or over-size, or slightly off color,” but they will still provide the same flavor, nutrient profile, and excellence as other produce offered in the store.
“Five billion meals worth of edible food are left on farms each year, and the Sprouts Rescued Organics program is designed to help address that problem,” Nick Konat, Sprouts President and Chief Operating Officer, said in a statement. Offering less-than-perfect produce also supports local farmers, Sprouts said, by giving farm partners a market for produce that would previously have ended up in a landfill. This gives growers the ability to increase profits without having to increase production. Rescued Organic will initially feature 12 local produce items, including potatoes, onions, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, pears, carrots, kiwi, and bell peppers. In addition to reducing food waste and being a boon to farmers, Sprouts said Rescued Organics will cut costs for shoppers and make organic produce more readily available to all consumers.
Sprouts is the latest grocery retailer to offer flawed produce. In 2017, a program offering Misfits-branded items at 15 Price Chopper and Market 32 locations in the Northeast was nixed because of what the program operator called quality inconsistent with company standards, according to reports. A program, at 14 Albany, New York-area Hannaford stores in 2016 was discontinued because of lackluster response from consumers, according to reports. There are also online retailers with similar offerings. Imperfect Foods and Misfits Market offer subscription services for imperfect produce.