The Creative World’s Newest Social Good Trend? Food Waste


Food is having its moment in the spotlight. Yes, millennials are dining out more (and taking photos every step of the way) and chefs are treated as celebrities, but a new topic has also entered the food zeitgeist — food waste.

An intersection of numerous issues, food waste confronts environmental, financial and social concerns, and the creative world has taken notice.

Walmart was one of the first major U.S. brands to join the food waste conversation when earlier this year it released “Spuglies,” a line of imperfect but perfectly edible potatoes, after farmers endured a tough growing season.

The big box store continued its crusade against food waste with a similar product launch this summer: a line of apples, entitled “I’m Perfect.” Three hundred Walmart stores are now carrying these cosmetically “flawed” apples.

“Creative marketing can play a catalytic role in shifting consumer views about what product attributes are not only acceptable but, in fact, desirable,” JoAnne Berkenkamp, senior advocate in the food and agriculture program at Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) told Fast Company. “Innovative marketers are finding new ways to make a virtue out of imperfection. As people try out these products, I think they’ll find that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.”


The NRDC also partnered with the AdCouncil this spring to launch a national public service campaign combatting food waste. “Save the Food,” created by SapientNitro, calls attention to the staggering 40 percent of food — or $162 billion — that is wasted in the U.S. every year and highlights its impact on everything from the environment to national hunger to labor issues.

“The new creative addresses a basic disconnect in our homes. No one likes to waste but the vast majority of Americans don’t think about food waste as a problem,” said SapientNitro North America CCO Gary Koepke in a press release. “The Save the Food campaign not only highlights the amount of food we waste in America, but also the effort and resources it takes to bring food into our homes. Ultimately the campaign will help change our social norms and behaviors around food waste.”

Watch the “Save the Food” TV spot below.


The most recent creative entrant into the discussion is San Francisco agency School of Thought with its “Real Foodies Compost” campaign for the San Francisco environmental department. The campaign plays off foodie culture and the wildly popular farm-to-table movement that originated in the Bay Area by encouraging consumers to adopt “table-to-bin” practices. It educates viewers how to properly compost to reduce the city’s landfill use and put any food waste to good environmental use.

Check out the campaign here.


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