After Shark Tank Success, Company That Sells Ugly Produce Coming to Philly
UPDATE, January 27th: CEO Evan Lutz tells us that there was enough demand to start deliveries in Center City this weekend, and pick-up locations outside of Center City will be coming soon.
ORIGINAL: Saving ugly produce from a doomed fate somewhere at the bottom of a dumpster has become a trend of sorts lately: Back in 2014, French supermarket Intermarché got tons of attention for giving ugly produce its own aisle and selling it at a 30 percent discount. And in the past year or so, companies saving ugly fruits and vegetables and selling them to veggie lovers who aren’t afraid of an oddly shaped carrot have been popping up around the country. And now, one of them, a Maryland-based company called Hungry Harvest, is coming to Philly.
If you’re a fan of the show Shark Tank, like pretty much everyone everyone else on the planet, then you might already recognize the name. The CEO and co-founder, Evan Lutz, was on the show on January 8th, and he managed to score the company a $100,000 deal with Robert Herjavek. So, what exactly do they do? Well, it’s pretty cool: The company, started in 2014 by two recent graduates of University of Maryland, recovers fruits and vegetables that would usually be thrown away by farmers and wholesalers due to aesthetic imperfections and delivers them to customers in weekly boxes, like a CSA, with the smallest of their boxes ringing in at $15 per week.
Since they started rescuing reject produce, the company has recovered over 300,000 pounds (!!) of fruits and veggies that otherwise would’ve been dumped. And along with working to reduce food waste, they also donate a lot of produce. They put on free farmers’ markets in underserved neighborhoods in the cities where they deliver (Lutz tells me they’ll have them in Philly, too), where they give away around 5,000 pounds of produce each time. Plus, for every box they deliver, they donate a meal to a needy family. “Our mission is to feed hungry families and reduce food waste as much as possible,” Lutz says. We can dig it.
As Lutz tells us, the company will be expanding to Philly, hopefully getting all sorts of ugly produce to us by the end of January, or the first week of February at the latest. The bummer is, unlike their service in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, they won’t be doing home delivery to start. They’re going to kick off their service with weekly pick-up locations, which Lutz says will most likely be in Wynnewood, King of Prussia, Willow Grove, at Drexel and somewhere in Center City. Then, they might begin home delivery somewhere down the line, depending on demand.
They don’t plan on stopping in Philly, either. As Lutz says of the company’s goals, “We hope to be the largest home-produce-delivery service in the United States.” To stay in the know about exactly when you’ll be able to get your hands on some funky-shaped — but perfectly edible! — squash or apples or whatever else floats your boat from Hungry Harvest here in Philly, follow their Facebook page here.
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