Tree Top, Pop-Tarts and the beauty of ugly fruit in tackling food waste

Originally published on April 15th, 2020 for GreenBiz.

Using “imperfect” or “ugly” fruit in downstream food products such as purees, canned foods or frozen fruit has been the practice of farmers for almost half a century. But only recently has ugly fruit become an obsession for the sustainability movement, as consumer awareness of the practice grows. 

“We have been saving ugly fruit for decades, and now it’s the new buzzword,” said Jeannie Swedberg, director of business development for the ingredient division of Tree Top. “It’s trying to communicate with the world that we are trying to reduce waste and utilize all the resources available to us. [The companies] are trying to show that to their consumers.”

Tree Top is one of the biggest suppliers of ugly fruit in the United States. It started as a farming cooperative in 1960 to help farmers sell their damaged or even just slightly less beautiful apples, and now provides all kinds of ugly fruit to manufacturers across the nation to transform into everything from dried fruit snacks to frozen berries. 

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