Recovery of non-marketable fruits and vegetables.
The story of Fruta Feia is based on the observation that large and medium-sized retailers buy from producers only “beautiful” fruits and vegetables, that is to say, meeting criteria of size, color, appearance … This naturally leads to the disposal of up to 30% of products that are consumable.
This led Isabel to found Fruta Feia, a company that buys outgrown fruit and vegetables from producers at a price that allows them to realize a profit, before reselling them in the big cities of Portugal to private individuals with the slogan “beautiful people eat ugly fruits”.
Fruta Feia now has around a hundred agiculturists and market gardeners. Each sells his production one or two weeks a year, depending on his availability. A van goes around the farms every week and picks up the unsold products.
These are centralized in the point of sale, where volunteers distribute them in baskets. Consumers buy baskets comprising between 5 and 8 different fruits and vegetables. “Regular” customers buy an annual package and get their basket. After that, the remaining baskets are sold to the barges.
Fruta Feia contributes to two aspects of the circular economy: sustainable supply and responsible consumption. It reduces food waste and contributes to the emergence of a real awareness of these issues. From 400 kg of products recovered each week at the origin, Fruta Feia rose to 8 tons.
Value creation by Fruta Feia
Even if the foodstuffs refused by large and medium-sized surfaces were valued in compost, Fruta Feia allows them to have a better valuation.
In addition, it favors local farmers and reduces dependence on external inputs, which reduces the carbon footprint of products sold.
Fruta Feia allows every link in the chain to realize economic benefits: from producers, who find a new outlet for previously non-recoverable products, to consumers, who benefit from seasonal fruits and vegetables at lower prices.
In addition, Fruta Feia employs 8 people full-time.
In addition to creating jobs, Fruta Feia promotes the cohesion of the social fabric by bringing consumers together and becoming aware of the problems of waste.
Thus, it allows to create and develop a responsible consumer conscience. What’s more, farmers are paid on delivery, unlike the traditional circuit, where supermarkets can wait up to 90 days. This operation secures the activity of farmers.
The choice of outlets is also not insignificant: they are premises loaned by associations or museums, which in return benefit many visitors. Fruta Feia promotes the radiation of culture.
Fruta Feia is easily reproducible: as proof, many similar initiatives have sprung up all over the world. However, the availability of free space and the presence of many volunteers, who set up the baskets for half a day in exchange for the right to bring one back home, are factors of success of this initiative.
In addition, Isabel, the founder, received a grant to launch her project.
Copyright CirculAgronomie 2020