My Favorite CSR Campaign: Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables
Updated: Nov 12
By: Natalie Iammarino, Account Executive
In 2014, French supermarket chain Intermarchè launched their “Inglorious Fruit and Vegetable” corporate social responsibility campaign, which aimed to reduce food waste by selling “imperfect” produce. Through tongue-in-cheek TV commercials and print ads, as well as in-store promotions, Intermarchè was able to turn “the grotesque apple” and “the disfigured eggplant” into highly sought-after products. Not only was Intermarchè’s campaign successful, but it also prompted similar campaigns across the world. By following the seven pillars of corporate social responsibility, Intermarchè was able to produce a robust and effective corporate social responsibility campaign.
This campaign launched in March of 2014, the year declared by the European Union as the “Year Against Food Waste.” This designation was in response to a briefing by the European Parliamentary Research Service that indicated, “a staggering 89 million tonnes of food waste is generated in the European Union (EU) each year.” This stunning amount had negative implications on both the environment and on the economy, as the European Union found that the majority of “food is discarded while it is still suitable for human consumption and can be attributed to urbanisation, consumption habits and changes to diets.” Seeing an opportunity to reduce food waste as well as make profit, Intermarchè, “bought up the lumpy and bumpy stuff that would have gotten discarded and gave it its own aisle in the supermarket, selling it at a 30 percent discount”. This corporate social responsibility campaign was perfectly integrated with the firm, as it allowed them to increase profits by selling inventory that would have been wasted.
Throughout the campaign, Intermarchè satisfied stakeholders at every level. The European Union was pleased with the effort, as it benefited their mission to end food waste in its member countries. Stockholders and management of Intermarchè profited from the campaign, as the grocery store’s sales of fruits and vegetables increased by 10 percent. This increase can be attributed to a 35 percent increase in store traffic as well as an impressive advertising campaign that reached 13 million people in France. Vendors of the deformed fruits and vegetables benefited from the initiative, as they were able to sell their products rather than discard them. Another stakeholder group that benefited was customers, as they were able to purchase perfectly good produce for a 30 percent discount. Also, in stores, customers were treated to soups and smoothies made from the produce to prove that they were just as delicious as the unmangled ones.
After researching this campaign, it quickly became my favorite. I admire the philanthropic aspect of the campaign as well as the creative side of it, as the ads that showcased the personified fruits and vegetables were hilarious. They implored me to participate in buying the “inglorious” products, as it is for a good cause as well as for a good price. This campaign inspired various supermarkets across the globe to run programs similar to Intermarchè's and even laid the groundwork for companies such as Oakland-based startup Imperfect Foods. This is an exemplary corporate social responsibility campaign, as it not only raised awareness of a detrimental issue, but also raised profitability and notoriety of the brand.