New Giant Eagle produce may not be good-looking, but it has personality
March 4, 2016 12:00 AM
Misshapen apple, potato and orange from Giant Eagle With Produce With Personality, Giant Eagle is the first major Pittsburgh food retailer to introduce misshapen fruits and vegetables at a discount to help combat food waste.
Misshapen potato from Giant Eagle With Produce With Personality, Giant Eagle is the first major Pittsburgh food retailer to introduce misshapen fruits and vegetables at a discount to help combat food waste.
With Produce With Personality, Giant Eagle is the first major Pittsburgh food retailer to introduce misshapen fruits and vegetables at a discount to help combat food waste.
By Patricia Sabatini / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Next time you visit the produce department at Giant Eagle, you may want to close your eyes — or at least squint a little — when picking out the best fresh fruit.
The region’s biggest grocer has begun selling select, discounted “ugly” produce as part of a pilot project at five area stores.
The produce — chiefly misshapen or sometimes oddly colored — normally would be discarded for its unconventional looks.
Instead, O’Hara-based Giant Eagle is joining a growing environmental movement to rescue these quirky-looking specimens from the trash bin and give them new life in the bargain bin.
“Cosmetically challenged produce is just as delicious and nutritious as its more eye-catching counterparts,” Giant Eagle said in a news release Thursday.
From a San Francisco startup that makes home deliveries of boxes of ugly produce to food co-ops and local grocers, enclaves across the country have been experimenting in recent years with peddling crooked, conjoined and discolored produce that otherwise would be rejected before it reached store shelves.
The idea is to fight waste — an estimated 1.3 billion tons of food gets thrown out globally each year — and at the same time, help consumers save money.
Giant Eagle, which operates about 60 stores in the Pittsburgh area, says it’s the first major food retailer in the Pittsburgh region to offer ugly produce.
“We were noticing this more global trend and wanted to play our part,” spokesman Dan Donovan said. “We’re always looking for new ways to deliver value to our customers. If you can participate in the worldwide effort to reduce food waste, that is fantastic as well.”
Stores participating in the pilot include Giant Eagle supermarkets on Route 8 in Shaler, at McIntyre Square in the North Hills, at Seven Fields and at Donaldson’s Crossroads in Peters, as well as the Market District store in the Waterworks Mall in Fox Chapel.
For now, stores will carry three types of “Produce with Personality,” as Giant Eagle calls it, including navel oranges, russet potatoes and apples.
Savings vary. Currently, a four-pound bag of ugly navel oranges is selling for $2.99 compared with $4.99 for the same size bag of regular navels, for a savings of 40 percent. The discount on potatoes is lower, about 17 percent.
Mr. Donovan said customer demand and the availability of reliable, quality supplies will determine whether the grocer expands the offerings and brings them to other stores.
Right now, the apples are being sourced from Western Pennsylvania, while other items come from the South and the West Coast.
Finding suppliers for ugly produce is “more challenging” than traditional produce, Mr. Donovan said.
Customer response to the new produce, which has been on the shelves for about two weeks, has been good, he said. “We’ve seen really good feedback. They’ve already taken to it.”
Patricia Sabatini: PSabatini@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3066.
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