How can we debunk high market standards for produce and reduce "ugly" food waste?
SVA Design for Social Innovation
All Food is a not-for-profit co-op franchise that reduces food waste by selling "ugly" produce at a reduced price.
Forty percent of all of the food we produce in the US ends up in our landfills. This dramatic food loss occurs for many reasons, including our high market standards for produce appearance. After researching the broad context of this problem, our team developed and tested potential business models that could reduce food waste and be financially sustainable.
Iterative Prototyping & User Testing
Focusing on a target market in New York City, we prototyped ideas such as an ugly produce box delivery service, an ugly produce cooking program, and a B2B food recovery system. We also interviewed local farmers, other "ugly" produce services, food recovery practitioners, and business experts to assess the viability of our different ideas.
Based on our competitive and user research, we saw an opportunity to make "ugly" produce more mainstream through the proven business model of food co-ops. We then developed a business plan, with three-year financial projections, for our final idea—All Food—and pitched it with a 5-minute presentation to investors, non-profit leaders, and local government officials.
All Food is a national network of food co-ops that sells all types of produce, with "ugly" produce at a discount. Each co-op would be member-owned and run, based on the traditional food co-op model. But unlike other food co-ops, All Food reserves a portion of its produce for donations to local anti-hunger organizations or food banks. The national headquarters support the network of All Food stores, by providing funds and guidance for starting and maintaining the social impact model of each co-op. To build the initial market in each new community, we would use Ugly Foodfests with celebrity chefs and farmers markets to attract members. In our three-year implementation plan, we would establish our flagship store in Astoria, and this experience would then inform our national model, and the proliferation of All Food in other communities.