A Canadian greenhouse grower-shipper has found a good home for its misshapen vegetables.
Redcliff, Alberta-based Red Hat Co-operative Ltd. began bagging “utility” cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers and eggplant — product that normally doesn’t make it to retail — under the Misfits label this year, said Mike Meinhardt, the company’s key account manager.
The line’s marketing effort centers around a fake movie poster featuring misshapen cartoon vegetables and the title, “The Misfits: Rise of the Rejects.”
The poster is displayed prominently at retail and incorporated into the line’s packaging. It comes with a “VG-13” rating: “very good for the whole family.”
Meinhardt got the inspiration for The Misfits this summer after hearing about a French grocery store, Intermarché, that launched a similar program called the Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables.
Red Hat launched Misfits in October at 11 retail stores in Alberta. The response, Meinhardt said, has been amazing.
“We didn’t expect it to take off the way it has. It really hit a nerve with the public and the media.”
Clever marketing aside, the interest in The Misfits is due in large part, Meinhardt said, to consumers’ increased interest in responsible food practices.
“The timing is right, talking about food waste.”
Based on the reception The Misfits has received in its inaugural year, Red Hat expects to expand distribution and product offerings next year, possibly into the U.S.
“Part of my job this winter is to find new growers,” Meinhardt said. “It could be Idaho potatoes or Florida oranges.”