Is this the perfect time for grocers to sell imperfect foods? – RetailWire

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May 26, 2022

With inflation and a potentially impending recession at the forefront of American consumers’ minds, many are reining in their spending and looking for ways to cut their grocery bills. At the same time, people are more accustomed than ever to shopping online despite the added expense. This confluence of circumstances could be a boon for a few grocery delivery startups selling the kind of products that are often thrown away unnecessarily.

Misfit Market and imperfect foods are services that focus on the sale and delivery of surplus produce, direct-from-supplier produce, or “ugly” organic produce – the type of fruit and vegetables that are high quality but often end up as food waste due to superficial imperfections, according to Health line.

Both companies also offer pantry items, and Imperfect Foods offers a line of snacks made with ingredients that would otherwise have been discarded by vendors. Misfits Market promises that members, who can join for free, will pay up to 40% less for groceries. Both tout reducing food waste as a primary goal of the service.

Even before the recent surge in inflation and heightened price awareness, grocers were trying to find something to do with lousy produce.

In 2016, Whole Foods partnered with Imperfect Produce to pilot the introduction of ugly fruits and vegetables to its store shelves. (Crunchbase lists Imperfect Produce as AKA for Imperfect Foods.)

Walmart attempted a similar in-store test. By 2019, however, Whole Foods and Walmart had quietly ended their Ugly Goods pilots, according to The globe and the mail. Price Chopper, another grocer who tried and abandoned such a pilot project, cited low customer interest.

Ugly Goods startups aren’t the only discounters offering grocery delivery.

In 2017 Aldi started offering delivery through Instacart.

Dollar stores have also jumped on the door-to-door grocery delivery craze. In 2021, Family Dollar, owned by Dollar Tree, began offering same-day delivery through Instacart.

instagram also tried to meet the cost consciousness of consumers. Last year, it added a deals section to its app specifically aimed at making buying groceries through the app more affordable.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think economic conditions will push people who still want groceries delivered to services like Misfit Market and Imperfect Foods? Do you see traditional grocers following suit and adding “ugly” products to their product line?

Braintrust

“Consumer wallets are primed for this aesthetic change.”

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