'Ugly' fruit and veg find a home

By Laurel Stowell -
2 comments
Store manager Richard Croucher (left) and produce manager James O'Connor hold contrasting potatoes. PHOTO/ BEVAN CONLEY
Store manager Richard Croucher (left) and produce manager James O'Connor hold contrasting potatoes. PHOTO/ BEVAN CONLEY

It's been dubbed "ugly" fruit and vegetables, but the slightly less-than-perfect produce at cheaper prices is a clear winner for customers at Whanganui's Countdown.

Richard Croucher manager of Countdown's Trafalgar Square store said the first bags of "Odd Bunch" potatoes arrived on Monday and had nearly sold out by Tuesday. A 1.5kg bag cost $4.99, compared to nearly $7.50 for the "perfect" versions.

Countdown supermarkets nationally have just launched "The Odd Bunch" initiative. It takes less than perfect produce from growers, packages it in recyclable polyethylene bags with "The Odd Bunch" label and sells them for reduced prices.

On Tuesday, Countdown Trafalgar Square had "odd" potatoes, carrots, onions, avocados and kumaras. A 1.5kg bag of "odd" carrots was priced at $3.99, while a "perfect" bag of the same size cost $5.99.

The produce range and prices are likely to change with seasons and availability, Mr Croucher said.

Countdown's quality assurance warehouse in Auckland checks fresh produce for size, markings, shape and colour. Selling "ugly" or imperfect fruit and veges made sense, and the food was just as tasty and nutritious.

The initiative cut down food waste, allowed growers to sell more produce and made healthy food cheaper for customers.

Kevin Wilcox, who supplies onions, carrots and potatoes to Countdown, said it was frustrating for a grower to throw away produce that didn't meet strict standards.

And Love Food Hate Waste spokesperson Jenny Marshall says 120,000 tonnes of food goes into New Zealand landfills every year. She was heartened by the Countdown initiative.

The Chronicle talked to some Countdown customers to see if they would "go ugly" with the "Odd Bunch" produce.

Christoph Liepelt.
Christoph Liepelt.


Christoph Liepelt, from Germany
"The same thing is just starting in Germany. It's a good idea. It saves waste and it offers cheaper prices for the customer."

Yvette Bonfond.
Yvette Bonfond.


Yvette Bonfond, Whanganui
"It's a good idea. What would you do with those things otherwise?"

Musa Musa
Musa Musa


Musa Musa, Whanganui
"I have a family to feed. Everything is quite expensive. It gives people more choice and to me this looks absolutely fine."

Alan Richardson
Alan Richardson


Alan Richardson, Whanganui
"We often go to Laugesens to get veges. The quality is perfect but the look isn't perfect and that doesn't bother us."

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