Company working with Wisconsin farmers to ship 'ugly' produce straight to consumers

Limits food waste, helps farmers' bottom line

The fruits and vegetables may not look like the shiny, polished produce found in grocery store displays. But farmers will tell you they taste just fine. 

"We eat a lot of the vegetables," said Jordan Koster of Geneva Lakes Produce. "We don't like to be wasteful. But in this business, there's so much waste it's horrible." 

A startup company called Imperfect Produce is launching in Milwaukee at the end of June and will work with local farmers to take the so called "ugly" produce, and ship it to consumers at a big discount. 

Geneva Lakes Produce is one of the Wisconsin farms that will supply the fruits and vegetables for Imperfect Produce. 

Koster says last year, they threw out 30 percent of their produce just because of the way it looked. 

"It's heartbreaking for me because I have so many resources and time, but it's also heartbreaking that I mean, there's use for that food," he said. 

Imperfect Produce will buy the blemished and misshapen produce from farmers, organize it and box it up, and then deliver it to your doorstep. The company says produce prices will typically be between 30 and 50 percent cheaper than what you'd find in a grocery store. 

"A lot of times it just means a little bit small, a little bit big, maybe some scarring on the surface," said Reilly Brock, content manager with Imperfect Produce. "But nothing quality related. Anything that's got bruising or mold, that will get sorted out." 

The company started on the west coast but recently launched in Chicago and Indianapolis. Brock says Milwaukee was next on their radar. 

"I think it’s a great cultural fit," he said. "Milwaukee has a really vibrant food scene as well as a lot of farms nearby. It made a lot of sense to us." 

Koster says they lose a lot of money on the imperfect stuff and having another option to sell that produce will help. 

"If I could break even on the imperfect stuff, it would really help the bottom line, no doubt about that," he said. "All the produce is still beautiful on the inside, even though some of it is a little ugly on the outside." 

Imperfect Produce will start initially with downtown Milwaukee zip codes, but the company hopes to eventually expand into the greater Milwaukee area. 

To find out if they deliver to your zip code, head to their website.

 

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