New Initiative Helps Reduce Food Waste

Boxes of weird and wonderful fruit and vegetables are being trialed in Auckland as part of Countdown’s continued effort to reduce food waste, make fruit and veges more affordable for Kiwis, and buy even more produce from local growers which could otherwise go to waste.

Countdown’s Odd Bunch programme was first launched in 2017 with Odd Bunch apples, and now offers a wide range of fruit and vegetables to customers that may not have typically made it to supermarket shelves due to small imperfections or cosmetic damage, at a reduced price.  The response has been extremely positive, with an estimated 38,400 tonnes of produce sold that could have otherwise ended up wasted.

The new Odd Bunch boxes are filled with a range of seasonal produce such as potatoes, capsicums, mandarins and onions. The boxes are being trialled through Coundown’s eStore in Penrose to gauge customer feedback before rolling out further.

Grant Robinson, Countdown’s Produce Merchandise Manager, said more than ever customers are looking for good value and are embracing the misshaped fresh fare.

“Kiwis are embracing the adage that you can’t judge a book by its cover. The Odd Bunch was popular right from when we launched it, but this year we’ve really taken it to another level with an increased range such as Odd Bunch avocados, strawberries and tomatoes.

“Customers really enjoy these weird and wonderful fruits and vegetables knowing that they are helping reduce waste but also more affordable at the same time. The boxes give us an opportunity to trial a broader offer to see where we can help our growers out, but also provide more range to customers,” said Grant Robinson.

“Reducing food waste right from the start of production has some really big potential benefits, both for our customers and growers, but also the planet.  Hopefully we can roll these out to even more customers in future and ensure we’re reducing food waste right at the start of the supply chain.”

Countdown’s Odd Bunch programme is one aspect of its food reduction efforts.  All Countdown stores donate rescued food to charities, which sees around 6,200 tonnes of food diverted away from landfill each year and instead used to feed Kiwis in need.

Countdown has set some ambitious targets when it comes to its emissions including reducing its Scope 1 and 2 Greenhouse gas emissions by 63 per cent by 2030 from a 2015 base year.

Because of the gases it generates as it rots, tackling food waste across its supply chain will continue to play an important role in this emissions reduction work.