Call it the Aisle of Misfit Produce.
Like the toy-rescuing lion King Moonracer of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” Hannaford is saving misshapen, slightly scarred fruits and vegetables for the people who may want them.
In a trial program launched Thursday at the 900 Central Ave. store, the supermarket now sells fruits and vegetables that don’t meet the perfect image of their usual offerings. The cucumbers may be twisted into odd shapes, the limes not quite so perfectly green, and the eggplant oversized and lumpy, but they don’t taste any different from their better-looking brethren.
“The Misfits,” as the products are labeled, will sell on average at a 30 percent discount.
“Hannaford is huge on sustainability and trying to cut down on waste,” said Ryan Merone, produce field merchandiser for Hannaford stores in New York and Vermont. “This is a way for us to partner with the farmers and do a good thing for the environment.”
Six billion pounds of fresh produce ends up getting discarded every year, and Hannaford is hoping to keep some of those forlorn fruits and veggies out of landfills and compost piles.
The idea originated from the company’s supplier, Robinson Fresh, which began a similar program with western supermarkets. “We thought it was a perfect fit for Hannaford for the value it could bring to our customers,” Merone said. The produce may not look perfect, he said, but people wouldn’t hesitate to eat the fruits and vegetables if they’d come out of their own garden. “There could be a visual difference but the quality should be the same,” Merone said. “There may be scarring on the outside of an avocado but you don’t eat the outside of an avocado.”
On Thursday, a bag of 16 discolored limes sold for $1.79. A single, more typical lime sold for 50 cents. “This would be 8 bucks if you bought 16 limes,” he said. A single, regular avocado costs $1.29, while four of the misshapen ones sell for $1.69.