‘Naturally imperfect’ produce finds a home at select Loblaw stores

WATCH: Cindy Pom looks at ways slightly misshappen produce can still be used in every day cooking.

TORONTO — Move over, perfect produce. Weird, small and misshapen fruits and vegetables are getting their own place on grocery store aisles.

The less-than-desirable produce that many of us are quick to discard will now be sought out and sold in its own special section at certain Loblaw banner stores in Ontario and Quebec, including Superstore, No Frills and Maxi.

“We often focus too much on the look of produce rather than the taste,” said Ian Gordon, the senior vice president of Loblaw Brands.

“Once you peel or cut an apple, you can’t tell it once had a blemish or was misshapen.”

The imperfect produce line, which will be called “Naturally Imperfect,” will cost up to 30 per cent less than traditional produce options found in store.

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READ MORE: Big jump looms for fruit and veggie prices as loonie crashes

Loblaw adds that the produce was “previously used in juices, sauces or soups, or may not have been harvested due to their small size.” The company hopes this program will now offer farmers a bigger market for atypical produce.

“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t use misshapen fruit,” said Laura MacLean, a spokesperson for Dietitians of Canada. “We shouldn’t throw it away, that’s for sure. We don’t want to be wasting food just because of the way it looks.”

READ MORE: Canada’s annual food waste a staggering $31B. Here’s how to reduce it


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Credit: Leo Kavanagh

It’s not the first time a big company has promoted “wonky” fruits and vegetables. Walmart has done the same at its U.K. retailer, Asda.

“Do you pass over a carrot that’s not straight? Or a pear that’s not smooth? This type of produce still tastes great and is beautiful on the inside; it just isn’t 100% perfect on the outside,” read a post on the Walmart blog.

Last year, French supermarket chain Intermarché launched a campaign called “the inglorious fruits and vegetables,” which went on to win a Cannes Lions marketing award.

“Intermarché, the 3rd largest supermarkets chain in France, decided to try and change their customers’ perceptions to encourage better behaviours towards the non-calibrated fruits and vegetables,” Goodvertising wrote on Vimeo. “How? By showing them that though they might by ugly looking, they are as good as any others.”

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Part of Intermarché’s “Inglorious fruits and vegetables” campaign shot by photographer Patrice de Villiers.

Regardless of what kind of produce you buy (non-organic, organic or unsightly) registered dietitian Lalitha Taylor has this advice: “Make sure to wash your produce well and scrub if necessary to reduce intake pesticide, residual dirt, and bacteria.”

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