Perfectly imperfect: How the Odd Bunch initiative is tackling food waste in Aotearoa

The old adage 'don't judge a book by its cover' applies to many things - people, property, books (obviously). But you probably haven't thought a lot about it applying to the produce you eat.

Enter Countdown's Odd Bunch initiative: Bagged up, perfectly imperfect fruit and vegetables ready for cooking at lower prices.

The Odd Bunch is like any other fruit and vegetable apart from that it looks a bit odd, but it tastes the same. The Odd Bunch is offered at a cheaper price which helps to cut food waste, takes more produce from growers and helps make healthy food more affordable.

Behind the scenes, a lot of fruit and vegetables weren’t making the cut. Much of the food grown on farms and orchards around the country can be misshapen or hail damaged.

This is an issue - especially when as a nation, we're chucking out around 157,389 tonnes of food a year, about half of it edible.

Odd Bunch launched in 2017, experimentally selling some hail-damaged plums and bags of misshapen carrots for cheap.

Perfectly imperfect: How the Odd Bunch initiative is tackling food waste in Aotearoa
Photo credit: Countdown

According Countdown, by 2019 customers had bought more than 15 million apples, over a million kilos of kumara and more than six million capsicums, all from the Odd Bunch range.

Despite being perfectly edible this produce would have been dumped by growers in the past due to having blemishes or an ‘odd’ shape.

Shoppers in turn appreciate the environmental aspect of minimising food waste, and others are just happy to snap up a bargain.

Once your odd veggies are sliced, stewed, and sauteed, I'll challenge you to spot the difference.

We've put together a recipe for a winter-friendly salad you can easily use any Odd Bunch vegetables in - the veggies are chopped, roasted and smothered in delicious pesto and feta so they look as good on the outside as they are on the inside.

Take it to dinner parties or prep it for work lunches - it's a total crowd pleaser and nobody will ever know the veggies started out a little ugly!

Winter warming salad:


Odd Bunch veggies (whatever is in season - carrots, potatoes, kumara, capsicum)

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tsp runny honey

Herbs (oregano, rosemary, thyme)

2 Tbsp pesto

Feta cheese


Chop up all the Odd Bunch vegetables into small chunks. Drizzle with olive oil, honey, and toss with herbs.

Place in a preheated oven at 200°C for five minutes, before lowering to 180°C for 30 minutes (or until golden and crunchy).

While still hot, place in a bowl and toss with pesto and crumbled feta, and a little more olive oil if needed.

Refrigerate until needed or serve while warm.

Winter warming salad with delicious Odd Bunch vegetables
Winter warming salad with delicious Odd Bunch vegetables

This recipe was sourced by Newshub lifestyle editor Sarah Templeton. You can find plenty more recipes on the Countdown Food Hub.

This article is created for Countdown