If you don’t mind produce that falls short of visual perfection, Raley’s will sell it to you at a discount.
Raley’s said its “Real Good” program will sell “scarred, aesthetically challenged” produce that might otherwise be headed for landfills when it launches Saturday at 10 of its more than 120 stores in an open-ended pilot program. The West Sacramento-based chain made the announcement Thursday.
The grocer said qualifying produce is uniquely shaped, sized or colored, but otherwise the same in flavor and quality as standard produce offerings. Among the “Real Good” offerings are plums, peppers and pears that will be offered at prices 25 percent to 30 percent lower than flawlessly shaped, uniformly colored produce.
The program, which Raley’s said is a first for a major grocery chain in the United States, “is a new way that we can support our growers and reduce food waste while offering our customers the best quality in fresh (produce),” said Meg Burrit, Raley’s director of wellness and sustainability.
The program could attract certain consumers, said Bob Reynolds, a supermarket industry consultant in Moraga. Reynolds said he knew of other similar efforts by grocers, but perhaps not to the degree of Raley’s promotion. He said Raley’s regional presence is an advantage as the chain does not have to ship produce over long distances.
“I think it’s a good idea that has the potential for offering consumers who are not tied into cosmetic perfection an opportunity to get nutritious, fresh produce at a substantially lower price,” he said.
The grocer is partnering with Emeryville-based Imperfect, a startup that advocates numerous methods to reduce food waste nationwide.
“We expect folks to see that even the fruits and vegetables that look a little wonky on the outside still have just as great quality and taste,” said Ben Simon, CEO of Imperfect. “At the end of the day, it is what is on the inside that counts.”
Simon said about 6 billion pounds of “imperfect” produce is discarded annually in the United States, with California accounting for half of that total.
“Most of the defects are so tiny that consumers are not able to tell why the produce is being rejected,” he said.
‘Real Good’ program
- 8391 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento
- 3518 Marconi Ave., Sacramento
- 10430 Twin Cities Road, Galt
- 700 W. Onstott Frontage Road, Yuba City
- 7847 Lichen Drive, Citrus Heights
- 13384 Lincoln Way, Auburn
- All locations in Stockton and Oakley
Bel Air markets
- 6231 Fruitridge Road, Sacramento
- 2222 Grass Valley Highway, Auburn