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‘It’s a big problem’: Natural Choice Foods tackling food waste crisis

Posted at 7:38 PM, May 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-03 20:01:08-04

MARNE, Mich. — According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 81.4 billion pounds of food was wasted in 2017. It was about the same for 2020.

“It’s a big problem,” said Brian Jones, COO of Natural Choice Foods. “About a third of the food does not get eaten in this country.”

So, Natural Choice Foods is helping to curb that.

“We work with the largest food companies in the world and take their problems,” Jones said during an interview on Monday at their facility in Marne. “They produce too much or they make something that’s slightly out of specifications. They change packaging. Anything where they have a problem and they can’t sell it in a normal retail market, they call us and we’ll try to take care of that for them.”

Jones said when large companies have extra food they’ll put out a bid that comes with guidelines on where and how to sell it. If Natural Choice Foods picks it up, their goal is to make sure that none of it gets wasted.

But, first it’s checked on-site by a USDA inspector, he said.

“Last week we repackaged about 150,000 pounds,” Jones said. “Now that’s a smaller part of our business. We move about 100,000 cases a week as a general rule.”

From its repackaging facility, which is USDA and FDA certified, it goes to smaller retailers like Amish stores or to one of their own Daily Deals Food Outlets — in Comstock Park, Greenville, Wyoming, Allendale and Muskegon — and then ultimately into people’s homes.

“Anytime we open up a store we’re looking to save that community a million dollars,” Jones said. “So, we try to sell everything anywhere from 30 to even 50 percent off. That’s our motto is to get it out into the community.”