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Beyond Beauty: The Opportunities and Challenges of Cosmetically Imperfect Produce

A deep look at the commercial market for cosmetically imperfect fruit and vegetables.

Project Description

Through the Beyond Beauty initiative, JoAnne Berkenkamp at Tomorrow’s Table and The Real Food Challenge explored the potential to develop commercial markets for cosmetically imperfect fruits and vegetables – in particular, collegiate foodservice markets.  Their research in Minnesota included in-depth analysis with fresh-market farmers, fresh-cut processors, produce distributors and leading foodservice management companies.
Their analysis was aimed at clarifying how different players in the supply chain view imperfects and triangulating among them to identify the “sweet spots” (and products) where imperfects could potentially work for all players. 
Below you’ll find a summary of key findings, Beyond Beauty reports on each part of the supply chain, and a webinar focused on the results of their work with produce growers.  JoAnne Berkenkamp can be reached at




Webinar Description

In this webinar, JoAnne Berkenkamp shares the results of Beyond Beauty research specifically with fresh market fruit and vegetable growers in Minnesota including causes and rates of imperfection, existing uses of imperfect product, growers' aspirations for new markets for their imperfects and barriers to sale. Then we turn our attention to some blue sky thinking about the market potential for imperfects... and some possible unintended consequences.  The webinar concludes with strategies that farmers have identified for bringing imperfects to market most efficiently, and additional policy recommendations.



Download the slides (PDF)


Presenter Bio

JoAnne Berkenkamp

JoAnne BerkenkampJoAnne Berkenkamp leads Tomorrow’s Table LLC, a consulting firm working across the country to build more sustainable food systems.  As part of her consulting practice, JoAnne developed the Beyond Beauty initiative in partnership with the Real Food Challenge to explore the opportunities and challenges of imperfect produce in collegiate foodservice markets.

JoAnne is also on the staff of the Natural Resources Defense Council as a Senior Advocate in NRDC's Food & Agriculture program.  Her work at NRDC is focused on reducing the amount of food that goes to waste through food waste prevention, recovery and recycling on a national basis.

JoAnne has nearly two decades of experience working in regional food systems development, consumer education, policy advocacy and food supply chain research and development.  Her work has been featured on National Public Radio,, the San Francisco Chronicle, Al-Jazeera and The Daily Beast.  Based in Minneapolis, JoAnne holds a Masters degree in Public Policy from Harvard University.

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