Ugly chips are all the rage in fight against food waste in America

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Dieffenbach's Uglies Kettle Chips are made with cosmetically imperfect potatoes that would have otherwise been rejected. Pic: Diffenbach's Potato Chips
Dieffenbach's Uglies Kettle Chips are made with cosmetically imperfect potatoes that would have otherwise been rejected. Pic: Diffenbach's Potato Chips

Related tags Potato chips Potato

Dieffenbach’s Potato Chips has launched “It’s Good to be Ugly” campaign aimed at reducing waste and fighting hunger, following the introduction of Uglies Kettle Chips last year.

Uglies are made with potatoes that have slight cosmetic imperfections and may otherwise be discarded. 

“Not all potatoes meet our high standards and get to become a Dieffenbach’s Kettle Chip,”​ said the company. “Some are too large or too small; some are blemished and some are just surplus. Until now, these orphaned potatoes were destined to become waste.

“Working with regional farmers, Dieffenbach’s is now purchasing and processing these surplus potatoes, as well as those with slight imperfections.”

Cosmetic imperfections

Grade standards were devised in 1945 by the US Department of Agriculture to provide growers and buyers with a common language for evaluating produce and mediating disputes.

Although these standards are voluntary, produce that do not meet these standards get rejected.

Each year, six billion pounds of produce goes unharvested or unsold for aesthetic reasons.

Lost en route

The impact of ugly snacks

According to the Pennsylvania-based potato chip producer, the company has saved more than 350,000 pounds of potatoes from going to waste since the launch of Uglies Kettle Chips last year.

Nevin Dieffenbach, owner and CEO of Dieffenbach’s Potato Chips, 40% of food produced in the US goes uneaten, despite the fact that more than 15 million households were effected by food insecurity last year.

“We hope to impact that percentage by using potatoes that farmers would likely be throwing away due to minor imperfections. Snacking should be enjoyable and we’re proud that with Uglies, it has an even larger impact,”​ he said.

“Because of this, we're able to pass on the savings to our customers, and everyone feels like they've done some good.”

Uglies are cooked in small batches, following the same recipe as the company’s other kettle chips. They are also gluten-free Kosher certified and fried in non-GMO cooking oil.

Available in three flavors: Original Sea Salt, Mesquite BBQ and Salt & Vinegar, retailing at $2.49 per 170g packet.

Renewed purpose

Dieffenbach’s Potato Chips was opened in 1964 and has grown by more than 150% in the last three years.

good to be ugly campaign

“The growth of our Uglies brand is proof that doing things for the right reasons will get results,”​ said Mike Marlowe, COO of Dieffenbach’s, noting the brand combines two key foundations of the business: creating enjoying snacks and giving back to those in need.

“The Uglies brand has given us a renewed purpose in the work we do.”

The third generation, family-owned business plans to open a new facility this year, to increase production of its popular proprietary brands, including Dieffenbach’s, One Potato Two Potato and Uglies.

The company also produces private label kettle potato chips, sweet potato chips and root vegetable medleys for US retailers.

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