A highly successful French campaign against food waste will soon be hitting markets in several other countries, including the United States. Les Gueules cassées (which translates as “broken faces.” For the English-language campaign, it will be called “Ugly Mugs”) promotes buying ugly – but perfectly edible and just as tasty – food products that probably would end up being thrown out and wasted otherwise.
The campaign gives discounts of around 30% on products that consumers might for some reason deem “ugly.” An apple that has an odd shape, a pear that’s slightly discolored or a strawberry that’s too large or small have a much better chance of being sold instead of getting thrown in the trash under this program.
Started less than a year ago, the initiative has had a stunning success and is now featured in more than 1,500 grocery stores across France. The discounts help consumers save money and prevent waste. Additionally, 1% of every purchase is donated to charity.
The campaign’s stickers – which feature a grinning apple missing quite a few of its teeth – have also started showing up on products that are approaching their expiration or best-use-by date, something supermarkets in the past normally end up having to throw away for lack of consumer interest.
And in France the initiative has expanded beyond just fresh produce. Boxes of cereal that were downgraded for a tiny technicality are being sold for 99 cents, Camembert cheese that couldn’t carry the official label because the cheese wasn’t the right shape are being sold at a discount, and sausages that were considered too plump are being sold rather than thrown out.
The program plans to launch in the US in December in around 300 stores before taking off in Germany in January. 21 other countries have expressed interest in the popular French initiative as well, and the founder, Nicolas Chabanne, plans to present the plan to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in the coming weeks.