A simple cut carrot convenience range has saved more than 2.5-million kilograms of Aussie carrots from going waste.
Just Veg., sold exclusively through Woolworths Supermarkets, was developed by the wives of Queensland carrot farmers to solve the weighty issue of wonky carrots.
The range launched in late September 2015 via 250 Woolworths Stores is now available in 750 stores and is consistently among the top sellers in the fresh cuts section.
The farmers’ wives waged their own #waronwaste, convincing their husbands to invest in a high-care, multi-million dollar facility to capitalise on demand from Australian shoppers for healthy convenience food.
Woolworths Supermarkets backed the Just Veg. team from Queensland farming company Kalfresh Vegetables, and the range is now available via stores in Queensland, NSW, Victoria, South Australia, and the ACT and Northern Territory.
“This was a totally new direction for our business, which until three years ago was focused on growing and selling commodity vegetable products,” explains Gen Windley, farmer’s wife, and Just Veg. team member.
“But we knew from our own experiences that modern life is getting busier and Australian shoppers – us included – are looking for quick and easy ways to keep a healthy diet.
Healthy Made Easy
“A bag of carrot sticks may not seem like rocket science but our customers have told us that taking a bag of ready-to-go carrot sticks to work means they stay away from the office vending machine. Nurses on nightshift say carrot sticks have solved the challenge of midnight munchies. Ambos who are on the road tell us they keep a packet of carrot sticks on hand for snacking on the run.
“Working mums say their kids are more likely to munch on our carrot sticks because they come in a fun, lunch-box ready pack.
“We have also heard from customers who have arthritis or are mobility impaired and do not have the strength to cut their own vegetables. They say being able to buy a pre-cut vegetable product makes it easy to eat healthy.”
Just Veg. has also been great news for farmers, who have been able to save a massive 2.5-million kilograms of carrots from the waste bin since launch.
Good news for farmers
“That’s a huge win for us,” says Kalfresh Vegetables CEO Richard Gorman.
“That’s 2.5million kg of carrots which would otherwise have gone to feed cattle in our back paddock, which is a really low-return use for our otherwise delicious carrots. Not only are we reducing food waste but we’re also making better on-farm returns for more of the crop.
“The carrots which end up in Just Veg. might be misshapen but they’re still fresh, nutritious and sweet-tasting.
“Our goal is to find a high value home to 100 per cent of every crop we grow because this makes our farming business more sustainable and viable into the long-term.
“As growers the Just Veg. project has taught us the power of thinking like the end-users. It’s not enough to say, ‘Our job stops at the farm gate.’
“Through our Customer Focus Team of professional women, who just happen to be our wives, we’ve been able to tap into a whole new skill set and the results have been amazing.”
Only in Woolworths
The Just Veg. team has collaborated with popular nutritionist and recipe developer Melanie Lionello to create quick and easy recipe inspiration utilising the carrots, including Loaded Carrot Stick Fries, a Cheese and Carrot toastie and Hidden Veg Mac & Cheese.
Just Veg. gives new life to the ‘wonky but tasty’ carrots, reducing food waste and helping busy people stay healthy.