South Africa faces a staggering 10 million tonnes of annual food loss, with a significant amount ending up in landfills. The apple industry has been hit hard by hailstorms, including those in November 2022 and February this year. In response, Dutoit Agri, Good Hope Fruit, and Pick n Pay have partnered for an inspiring campaign.
The “Hail to Heroes” campaign addresses food waste and aims to guarantee a consistent apple supply in Pick n Pay stores. By challenging the perception of cosmetic imperfections, we celebrate visually flawed fruits as heroes, recognising their true value and nutritional benefits.
This partnership takes a proactive stance against food waste, urging consumers to choose cosmetically blemished produce and contribute to a sustainable food system.
Nutritious and delicious
Apples have the ability to repair themselves after suffering superficial indentation caused by the impact of a hard piece of ice. According to Jaco Jordaan, Technical Manager at Good Hope Fruit, hail generally only causes cosmetic damage.
“The fruit quality and taste of these apples remain perfectly intact, with the exact same nutritional value and delicious taste as those that are not damaged,” he says.
“While our human scars do not define us, the natural scars from hail do not define what lies beneath the skin of the fruit. The wonderful eating experience remains intact – nutritious and delicious, just the same as our wholesome spirits as humans,” says Linde du Toit, Head of Technical at Dutoit.
Don’t judge an apple by its cover
The challenge is that when consumers buy fresh produce, they tend to buy with their eyes. An incorrect perception exists that only perfect looking fruit will be delicious and nutritious. The truth when it comes to hail damaged fruit is that, although there might be a blemish or slight bruising on the skin, the inside of the apple is unaffected.
Unlike fruit that is rotten or moldy, hail damaged produce has prominent scar tissue which means the fruit has been able to heal itself. Consumers are used to buying fresh produce based on how it looks. This campaign is a unique opportunity to educate and inform consumers and change this perception over the long term.
Mitigating risks and supporting farmers
Given the increasing electricity, cooling and packing costs, the Fruit industry cannot afford further losses, especially when these hail damaged apples are crunchy, juicy and full of flavour. Keeping the supply and the price of apples consistent is helping to mitigate the already overwhelming challenges faced by the Farming community while also reducing food waste.
Hail to Heroes also creates jobs up and down the supply chain, positively impacts the economy and uplifts the local communities.
“We saw an opportunity to partner with Pick n Pay on this campaign and get this perfectly good fruit to market while minimising the risk of job and volume losses,” says Johan Du Toit, Business Manager SADC at Good Hope Fruit and Karien Bassett, Business Manager at Dutoit.
While unique to South Africa, this campaign mimics similar sentiment taking place globally. Various campaigns have been launched in Europe to market ‘ugly’ fruit and vegetables, with a focus on the fact that the nutritional value remains the same, even if the carrot is skew. This has further reduced the need to process and dump fresh produce.
Pick Dutoit “Without partners involved namely Du Toit Agri, Good Hope Fruit, and Pick n Pay, this campaign would not be possible and most of the produce would lead to loses,” says Johan and Karien. “This is an innovative partnership within the agricultural and retail sectors. We have to help each other as much as possible for the greater good of the producers, labour force and consumers.”
Getting to the core of food wastage
“Following hail events, thorough assessments are carried out to determine the most optimal outcome for the orchard. With early damage such as what was experienced over the last year, we are still able to hand thin each and every tree to remove the worst affected fruit and give the remaining fruit the best chance to reach their full nutritional potential,” Linde says.
“Hail damaged fruit in no way implies less dedication to the handling and marketing of the fruit. In fact, perhaps even more care is taken to ensure the longevity of fruit,” he says. With climate change expected to increase the severity and frequency of hail in the Western Cape, Hail to Heroes encourages consumers to look beyond the external appearance and give these hail damaged apples a chance.
“Hail to Heroes not only honours the fruit that braved the storm and reached the retailer’s shelves, but also the farmers and farm workers who have continued to nurture the fruit. Thank you to another hero, Pick ‘n Pay, for stepping up to sell unique looking apples that are perfectly nutritious and delicious,” continues Linde.
Shoppers can show their love for the fruit that braved the storm, and Hail to the Heroes that feed our nation by looking out for specific Hail to Hero stickers attached to selected bags of apples in Pick n Pay stores. Available in store from 26 July 2023, each sticker also has a code that consumers can use to access more information.
For more details about this campaign, go to https://hailheroes.co.za
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