A great deal of food waste happens in grocery stores, and much of that waste has to do with consumer perception of what makes food good to eat.
Of course, everyone wants the best-looking tomatoes and no one wants the crackers that “expire” tomorrow. But, as most grocery stores know, most of those undesirable foods are perfectly safe and totally delicious to eat. That’s why it’s important for grocery stores to be on the front lines in the fight against food waste.
Photo courtesy of supermarketnews.co.nz
These special baskets have been popping up in more and more grocery stores, and really should become standard practice.
Yummy apples, oranges, pears and bananas that may be slightly bruised or oddly shaped are offered in a special basket near the front of the store for children to eat as they shop with Mom, Dad or whoever was brave enough to attempt grocery shopping with kids.
It not only promotes healthy snacking choices for kids, but it’s a great way to make use of perfectly edible produce that may have otherwise ended up in the trash, simply because it doesn’t look perfect.
Any sale or special deal that requires shoppers to purchase multiples of a product too often leads to considerable food waste at the consumer end, as people end up buying more than they will use.
Make a commitment to eliminating these types of deals in your store, instead offering discounts or store points regardless of the quantity purchased.
As you most likely know, many foods on or approaching “sell by” and “best before” dates are still perfectly safe to consume, and often taste the same as they would have a few days earlier.
You also likely end up throwing out many of these items, alongside any fruits and vegetables that were deemed not “pretty” enough by consumers, as produce that is oddly shaped or has small imperfections often get passed over.
Instead of sending these items to the trash, offer them to consumers at deep discounts. You were going to toss them anyway. Why not make a bit of money back?
You are food experts. As such, you have a lot of expertise to share, especially when it comes to the truth about what “sell by” and “best before” dates really mean. You know that these dates do not mean the food becomes unsafe to consume immediately after.
Dry goods, beverages, canned and frozen foods and even dairy products are usually perfectly good to eat, even well past their “best before” date. They may not have the exact taste or texture promised by the manufacturer, but otherwise, there is nothing wrong with them.
Find ways to educate your customers about this important truth. Post signs, include the info in newsletters or direct mailings, hand out information cards, or include a note with any recipe cards or in-store magazines your store produces.
Everyone loves a good story. Look at how the sales of cauliflower skyrocketed when it became a trendy vegetable and how certain obscure products gets shoved into the spotlight when there’s a good story circulating about them.
It’s not just about trends. It’s also about the connection people feel to their food when they know something special about it.
So start getting creative! When you have a surplus of carrots, for example, don’t just offer a discount. Tell their story! Post pictures of the farm they came from, or the origins of the “carrots are good for eyesight” story. Any time you have a product that needs to be sold quickly to prevent waste, find something interesting about it and share the story with your customers. They’ll love it!
Shoppers love plentiful displays of fresh produce. The bigger the melon pile, the better! Bountiful displays are great for getting customers in the door (and keeping them there), but will that huge pile of peppers really get sold before the bottom layers start to get wrinkly?
Start creating illusions of plenty by building the pile on top of crates or some other filler. You can also use large, longer lasting produce like pumpkins and gourds, or fruits like apples that will later be turned into baked goods in order to fill space and maintain the appearance of abundance… without the reality of abundant waste.
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