Hy-Vee supermarkets take on U.S. food waste problem

Hy-Vee stores have announced a program offering “ugly” produce in order to combat food waste in the United States. (Sarah R/flickr)
Jenna Ladd | February 9, 2017

Iowa’s Hy-Vee supermarket chain announced a new initiative to reduce food waste last month.

The employee-owned corporation began offering “ugly” produce in nearly all of its 242 stores in mid-January. “Ugly” produce are those vegetables and fruits that typically are not sold at market due to industry size and shape preferences. Hy-Vee partnered with Robinson Fresh to offer its original line of Misfits® produce. Depending on what is available seasonally, four to six Misfits® produce items are delivered to Hy-Vee stores where shoppers can purchase them at a discounted price. The program’s produce offerings include peppers, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes and apples, among other fruits and vegetables. On average, consumers can expect to pay 30 percent less for the “ugly” items.

John Griesenbrock is Hy-Vee’s vice president of produce/HealthMarkets. He said, “As a company with several focused environmental efforts, we feel it’s our responsibility to help educate consumers and dispel any misperceptions about produce that is not cosmetically perfect.”

The company’s press release notes that a movement to reduce food waste through the purchase of less-than-perfect produce has spread across Europe and is picking up steam in the U.S. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that 30 to 40 percent of the U.S. food supply goes to waste. Food waste makes up the vast majority of waste found in municipal land fills and quickly generates methane, which is a greenhouse gas that is 84 times more potent than CO2 during its first two decades in the atmosphere.

Hy-Vee’s Misfit® program supports the USDA and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency effort to achieve a 50 percent food waste reduction nationwide by 2030.

“We understand that there is product left in the field because farmers don’t think there’s a market for it,” said Robinson Fresh general manager Hunter Winton. He added, “With the Misfits program, farmers have an outlet to sell more produce and customers have an opportunity to save money and help reduce waste.”

Hy-Vee seafood now fully sourced from environmentally responsible producers

A recently constructed Hy-Vee store in New Hope, Minnesota. (Flickr)
A Hy-Vee store in New Hope, Minnesota. (Flickr)
Nick Fetty | February 10, 2016

Hy-Vee Inc. announced this month that it has met its goal of procuring 100 percent of its seafood from environmentally responsible producers.

The Midwestern grocery store chain – which has more than 230 stores in eight states – set the goal in 2011 to procure 100 percent of its seafood from environmentally sustainable sources by 2015. As of December of 2015, “100% of Hy-Vee’s fresh and private label frozen seafood met the goal of being responsibly sourced.”

For this initiative, Hy-Vee partnered with FishWise, an environmental nonprofit that promotes the health and recovery of ocean ecosystems and the people that depend on them through environmentally and socially responsible business practices. Together the two entities have transitioned nearly 5 million pounds of seafood to responsible sources.

Seafood purchased is rated as Green ‘Best Choice’ or a Yellow ‘Good Alternative’ according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program.

Responsible sourcing of seafood is just part of Hy-Vee’s commitment to sustainability which also includes efficient store design, energy and resources conservation, and waste reduction and recycling efforts.

Hy-Vee was founded in Beaconsfield, Iowa in 1930. Today the employee-owned company is headquartered in West Des Moines and has more than 140 stores across the Hawkeye State.


On the Radio: Iowa City businesses use composting to reduce waste

Compost pile. Photo by bunchofpants, Flickr.
Compost pile. Photo by bunchofpants, Flickr.

Listen to this week’s radio segment here or read the transcript below. This week’s segment discusses the efforts of Iowa City businesses to reduce waste through composting.

Businesses in and around Iowa City are using composting to reduce their impact on the environment.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Continue reading

Iowa City businesses help the environment through composting

Photo by Plan for Opportunity, Flickr.
Photo by Plan for Opportunity, Flickr.

Some Iowa City businesses are composting to reduce their impact on the environment.

The Bluebird Diner, New Pioneer Co-op and four Iowa City-area Hy-Vee stores all have composting programs.

Composting helps the environment by producing healthier soil and by keeping food waste out of landfills. As food decomposes in landfills, it releases the greenhouse gas methane.

Read more about the environmental efforts of Iowa City businesses here.

Cedar Rapids issues sustainability challenge to residents

Photo by Adam Franco, Flickr.

Cedar Rapids City Manager, Jeff Pomeranz, is asking residents to help clean up their City.

Pomeranz is challenging all Cedar Rapids residents to collect at least one bag of litter this year. Residents can pick up a free bag and pair of gloves at Hy-Vee’s Cedar Rapids locations (1843 Johnson Ave., 5050 Edgewood Road, 279 Collins Road NE).

After collecting a bag of litter, residents are encouraged to share their story at www.CleanUpCR.com.

Read more about the challenge in The Gazette’s article here.

Find out more about Cedar Rapids’ sustainability initiatives here.

Reusable bag use on the rise

Photo by MD Anderson's Focuse on Health, Flickr

Iowans are using reusable bags more than ever before, but some U.S. cities are showing Iowa that there’s room for considerable improvement. The Press-Citizen reported yesterday that, based on non-quantified information, more people in our state more people bring reusable bags to grocery stores than ever before. Additionally, some grocers are creating incentives to encourage customers to bring these reusable bags: Continue reading