Sure, that squash might be a little ugly, but does that mean it’s not suitable to eat?
Not according to grocer Imperfect Produce, which is launching its New Jersey warehouse June 10 to service the greater Newark area, Hoboken, Jersey City, Bergen County and Staten Island.
The facility also has plans to begin serving Middlesex and Somerset counties soon.
San Francisco-based Imperfect Produce has been sourcing unsightly and surplus produce directly from farms and delivering it to consumers’ doorsteps since 2015. This is its 21st territory, geared to bring affordable produce to the area while fighting food waste.
“We’re growing all over the place, launching new cities every couple weeks, and [New Jersey] just feels like it’s an audience that shares our values,” said Chief Executive Officer and co-Founder Ben Simon. “We do well in any area where people care about the environment and care about saving money. It’s a value set that resonates with the audience here.”
Customers can order a customizable box of produce and shelf-stable grocery items for as little as $12, which gets 8 to 10 pounds of food. Imperfect Produce has about 60 organic produce items, 60 conventional produce items, and 200 grocery items to choose from.
One of Imperfect Produce’s Midwestern suppliers was stuck with 250,000 pounds of organic red lentils when a buyer backed out of a sale. The farmer was trying to sell them for nearly a year before Imperfect stepped in to buy his product.
Not only did this prevent the product from spoiling, it allowed the farmer to make his money and Imperfect to nab a good deal to pass onto its customers.
“We try to help farmers, growers, and other producers and solve problems for them that also ends up solving a problem for our customers. We’re trying to add more convenience to people’s lives and help save more trips to the grocery store,” Simon said. “It’s kind of a win-win.”
The Newark facility will serve as a quick stopping point to load drivers up, Simon said. The food is packed in a facility in Maryland, and having a packaging center in New Jersey makes it easier to serve the area efficiently. The facility will initially sustain six jobs with living wages, benefits, and an ownership stake in the company; and as the program gains popularity, employment will grow to between 10 and 15 people.
Two New Jersey farms will supply ugly or surplus food to Imperfect Produce: Dandrea Farms in Vineland will supply asparagus and broccoli, and Nardelli Lake View Farm in Cedarville will supply lettuce and squash.
Since 2015, Imperfect Produce has recovered 40 million pounds of product, 32 million of which in the last year alone. The company is on track to recover almost 50 million pounds in 2019. Additionally, the company has saved 1.2 billion gallons of water and 110 million pounds of carbon dioxide.
Helping the farmers, the customers, and the environment. That makes it a win-win-win.r