Last year the European Union decided it was time to address the issue of food waste. Imagine that in some cases 20 to 40 percent of fresh produce gets wasted, according to estimates from the United Nations Environment Program. Much of it is tossed out because it failed to meet the retailers’ cosmetic standards. So the EU made 2014 the European year against food waste.

In France, supermarket giant Intermarché found an original way to deal with the topic. The retail chain started the project: Les fruits & legumes moches (The inglorious fruits & vegetables). Not just by selling them in their stores. The products, cute, funny, eccentric shaped fruits and vegetables, were presented as stars, as characters, as appealing creatures. Like for example in a commercial presenting the demotivated carrot. 

In a very clear and communicative campaign, both online and in the stores, the fruit and vegetable characters were presented very attractively to the public. The campaign was designed by the agency Marcel Worldwide, with offices in Paris and in New York. 

1.2 tons per store

Simple, funny and cheaper than their perfect brothers and sisters the fruits and vegetables found their way to the French consumers. They bought and ate tons of healthy products that would otherwise have been discarded. The supermarket reported it had sold an average 1.2 tons of the imperfect fruit and veg per store. And Intermarché operates some 1800 stores in France alone!

All this resulted in a win, win, win situation. The farmers got money for their ‘lesser’ products, consumers got their vitamins cheaper, and Intermarché had an increase in sales and media coverage.  The success was repeated this year in February and March – this time adding misinformed camemberts and cereals too – and has been exported to Canada as well.

This campaign is a great example of how mainstream commercial enterprises can help to decrease waste and how to advertise the beauty and fun of imperfection. Intermarché’s glorious fight against food waste is a good example of what a bit of common sense, humour and design can do.

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published.