Ugly but nutritious: How HeroGo is changing consumer mindset towards “odd shaped” fruits & veggies

September 15, 2023 | By Rupkatha B

Changing the consumer mindset towards odd-shaped fruits & veggies: The HeroGo commitment

At a time when 1/3 of the world’s food is wasted, a UAE-based start-up HeroGo is making a difference. Here’s how:

  • Avoided 300,000 kg of food waste.
  • Committed to supporting 50% food waste reduction plan in the UAE by 2030.
  • Provided 100,000+ nutritious, healthy meals to people from low-income communities.

From fighting food waste to saving resources, collaborating with local growers to providing meals for the hungry, HeroGo is doing all of this. Yet, one thing that stands out is HeroGo’s efforts to change the consumer mindset around “odd shaped” or “ugly” fruits and vegetables.

Co-founded by Daniel Solomon and Donna Glasper, HeroGo works with farmers and importers to rescue these odd-shaped goods and excess produce, offering perfectly nutritious foodstuffs to customers at discounted prices.

Launched a couple of years ago, HeroGo has achieved quite a few milestones, “We’ve signed memoranda of understanding with Ne’Ma and the UAE Food Bank to support the 50% food waste reduction target, coupled with investing in partnerships with food producers such as Emirates Bio Farm, Pure Harvest, Costa and more to fight food waste. We’ve launched our B2B programme partnering with key sustainably focused HoReCa brands by supplying sustainable produce to their consumers. In addition, we’ve launched our ‘Office Fruit Basket’ product line also aimed to fight food waste with sustainable fruit delivery options with carbon reduction reports on impact made,” Glasper said.

HeroGo has certainly brought about a shift in consumer mindset towards food products that aren’t perfect to look at but are nutritious.

In this context, Glasper highlighted the power of social media in raising awareness about food waste and changing perception as well as removing barriers to purchase unattractive or excess produce. “We’ve leveraged social media to create the ‘Sustainable Food Movement’ through innovative marketing and communications, myth busting what food waste actually looks like and the benefits of putting imperfect produce on the table.”

So far so good. But how does the brand plan to continue making an impact in the foreseeable future?

“Our mission is to make food affordable and accessible by fighting the food waste problem with technology at the centre. We’re embarking on new steps to prioritise affordable sustainability by launching new food categories including dairy, meat, pantry staples and more. This will help in finding value in all food categories that would have gone to waste. Food inflation is on the rise and the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization’s recent report states an increase of 42% of people unable to afford healthy food. We’re committed to reducing the cost of food whilst finding more sustainable sourcing solutions. As such, we’ll launch the option for customers to customise their boxes being able to choose items at the risk of waste at reduced prices.”

Asked if more action through policymaking is needed to bring about a meaningful change to reduce food wastage in the region, Glasper opined, “Roughly one-third of food grown is wasted costing $3 billion alone in the UAE. To achieve the ambitious target of reducing food waste by 50% by 2030, the UAE has launched the National Food Loss and Waste Initiative, Ne’ma. I think it’s a shared responsibility to shift societal behaviours beyond just policymaking. Various sectors have initiatives to reduce food waste, and I think more sectors could be supported with challenges they face on food waste and find ways to collectively reduce it through practices and awareness activities. For instance, encouraging corporations to sign up to a pledge with publicly reported impact. Other countries have seen success with incentives on reducing waste, recycling, nation-wide initiatives to divert from landfill, therein ensuring a circular economy with consumer and business level solutions.”

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