- Kroger is expanding its partnership with Apeel Sciences to bring Apeel's longer-lasting avocados to more than 1,100 Kroger stores across the country later this month. Last year, Kroger introduced Apeel avocados to 109 stores in the Midwest and found the products significantly reduced food waste.
- Kroger will be adding Apeel limes and Apeel asparagus, its first vegetable, through a pilot program in Cincinnati this fall as the company builds its U.S., Chile, Mexico and Peru supplier base.
- Apeel’s plant-based technology allows avocados to stay ripe twice as long as regular ones without refrigeration or preservatives, which aligns with Kroger’s Zero Hunger Zero Waste mission to reduce food waste.
Kroger is leaning harder into its Zero Hunger Zero Waste mission with the extension of its partnership with Apeel. As consumers are increasingly looking for products that align with their environmental concerns and grocers that carry those products, the expansion could position Kroger well with customers.
Kroger introduced its Zero Hunger Zero Waste initiative in 2017, with the intent to reduce hunger and eliminate food waste by 2025. Kroger's pilot with Apeel avocados last fall followed a rollout of the products by Costco and Harps Food Stores in the Midwest. Apeel claims the partnership with Kroger will prevent millions of pieces of produce from going into landfills as well as saving water, reducing emissions and preserving farmland. Earlier this year, Kroger announced a $1 million innovation fund to find even more technologies and solutions for food waste prevention.
According to Apeel, 40% of food produced is tossed. Grocers can play a part in reducing those numbers, as well as improve their bottom lines by identifying wasteful purchases, opportunities for recycling and potential tax benefits for charitable contributions.
Once Harps added Apeel to its stores, the grocer said using it has reduced their avocado waste by 60% and boosted sales by 10%. According to the company website, Apeel’s products are now also available in Martin's Supermakets.
Besides Apeel, whose plant-based product lets food stay fresh longer when applied to the skin of a fruit or vegetable, other companies are making strides in less tech-focused ways. Misfit Market and Imperfect Produce are expanding to make "ugly produce" more widely available through subscription boxes.
Kroger's initiative is ambitious but they aren’t the only company making waste reduction a priority. Many grocers are looking for innovative ways to solve the problem. Hy-Vee partnered with app company Flashfood to pilot a new program that would reduce prices on food as it approaches its sell-by date. The Iowa-based grocer is also selling “ugly produce” at reduced prices. While other stores are implementing technologies to create inventory solutions to make sure only products that are needed will be ordered.