When two former farmers started selling ugly fruit and vegetables that would usually end up in the bin, supermarkets chains scoffed at them.
Now the firm launched by Nicolas Chabanne and Renan Even is being hailed as a commercial success, having sold 10,000 tonnes of twisted courgettes, deformed carrots, strangely shaped tomatoes and other such produce in only eight months.
The success of their business, called Les Gueules Cassees (The Smashed Gobs), is so great that they have starting distributing deformed camembert, which, too, are finding purchasers.
The initiative comes amid widespread calls to cut food waste in a country once proud of its ability to turn imperfectly shaped ingredients into fine dishes. The two men launched the initiative last year after Mr Even discovered that many of the strawberries produced in his native Vaucluse were rejected by supermarkets because of their shape.’
“In a garden, you pick the fruit because it’s ripe, not because it’s 27mm in diameter,” he said. “But supermarkets cannot stand these visual flaws.”
Denouncing the waste, Les Gueules Cassees scoured wholesalers for fruit and vegetables destined for their bin. The firm buys them cheap and offers them to retailers.
Supermarket buyers reacted with horror at first, but trials proved such a hit the big chains changed their minds. Mr Chabanne says that more than 5,000 retailers now stock his products.
The “smashed gob” fruit and vegetables are priced 30 per cent less than standard produce, and have proved popular in poor districts suffering from high levels of unemployment. But they have also been a hit among wealthier consumers who see the purchase of ugly produce as an ecological act.
By Adam Sage
With many thanks to The Australian
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