Hy-Vee's Misfits produce program a wild success

Hy-Vee Inc. — with the help of its customers — has rescued more than 1 million pounds of fruits and vegetables from landfills just four months after it began offering the Misfits produce program. To further combat the nation’s food waste issue, Hy-Vee began offering so-called ugly produce in nearly all of its grocery stores in January.

Ugly produce would traditionally go unsold due to the industry’s size and shape standards; however, Hy-Vee partnered with Robinson Fresh, one of the largest produce companies in the world, to offer its line of Misfits produce.

“We are thrilled that Misfits fruits and vegetables have been so well received by our customers in such a short time,” John Griesenbrock, vice president of produce/HealthMarkets at Hy-Vee, said in a press release. “This volume of food waste diversion is an encouraging sign that Hy-Vee’s focus on educating consumers about food waste issues around the world is having a positive effect, and we are excited to build upon these efforts going forward.”

Misfits provides customers more fruit and vegetable variety at a lower cost while also helping to reduce produce waste. Through the program, four to six Misfit items are delivered to stores weekly, based on what is seasonably available, and are sold on average at a 30 percent discount. Some of the line’s items include peppers, cucumbers, squash, apples and tomatoes.

“We have found Hy-Vee to be a rewarding collaborator for the Misfits program,” Jim Lemke, president of Robinson Fresh, said in the release. “One million pounds of produce saved from landfills is no small feat, and we are pleased to help provide a program that is beneficial to both consumers and retailers alike.”

The Misfits program is just one way Hy-Vee is trying to reduce food waste at all levels — from the supply chain to distribution and disposal. For several years now, Hy-Vee has been recognized for its food donation and diversion efforts in the communities it operates. Misfits produce is available in almost all of the more than 240 Hy-Vee grocery stores across eight Midwestern states.

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