While the ugly fruit movement seeks to get imperfect produce sold in stores, a Swedish startup is trying to catch fruit from going to the bin that may not be worthy of getting onto the store shelves in the first place.
The Helsingborg-based startup, which began in 2015, is called Rescued Fruit.
It works with retailers like Swedish grocery store chain ICA and produce vendor Everfresh to take their unwanted apples and turn them into juice.
The juice is then sold in 150 retail locations, mainly coffee shops and other independent businesses, around Sweden, and a few in Finland.
The company’s 32-year-old CEO, Cecilia Larsson, said fruit is thrown out for any number of reasons, and some of them have nothing do with how they look or taste.
If a pallet has a few apples that are rotten, a whole pallet could be dumped because of the assumption that the other apples will soon go bad, she said.
Other times, they are deemed unworthy of the store shelves if they have minor blemishes, like dots from being hit by hail.
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that globally we waste about 1.3 billion tons of food a year, and that 45 percent of all fruits and vegetables are thrown out, the highest throwaway rate of any food category.
By rescuing the fruit, the company is honoring the effort it took to get them to where they are: the fuel and labor to transport it (some come from as far away as Africa and South America), and the water, labor, and space it took to grow and harvest it.
Rescued Fruit takes the unwanted fruit and sorts, presses, and bottles it, often all in the same day. It packages the juice in bottles and plastic bags that are then put into boxes and sends it to its vendors.
It is also breaking the mold when it comes to taste. Larsson said people shouldn’t expect each bottle or box to taste the same, because just like the fruit it uses, each batch is unique.
“We want to make it the new normal that the products that are made from fruit could look different, could taste a bit different,” Larsson told the AP.
And apparently customers don’t mind, because demand for its juice is growing.
One of the company’s oldest clients, Fahlman’s Patisserie in Helsingborg city center, reports that people are starting to request Rescued Fruit juice, and even come there because of it.
“We can definitely see them growing, because I can see them in stores now that you would not [have] found them in before,” Evelina Svensson from Fahlman’s told the AP.