THEY may be odd-shaped and unattractive but they are certainly in demand these days.
These are Grade B vegetables, and can be priced up to 50% cheaper than market prices. In fact, these veggies are much sought after by consumers who are struggling with high cost of living.
“The vegetables are rejected by retailers because they do not meet certain criteria. Some are considered oversized while others are undersized.
“Some are out of shape or do not look fresh, ” said Clara Wan from Graze Market which specialises in Grade B vegetables.
Wan, 32, and her 33-year-old business partner Shirley Chan, 33, see their venture as more than a business.
“We also want to promote zero food wastage. These vegetables may be rejects but they are still good for consumption. The leftovers are also turned into compost and distributed free to the people, ” said Wan.
She said making Grade B vegetables easily available also helped encourage people to consume more greens.
Their target are the low- and middle-income groups living or working nearby their shop in Sunwaymas Commercial Centre in Petaling Jaya.
Some eateries also buy Grade B vegetables.
While business is about making sales, Chan said they would not encourage customers to buy a lot at one go.
“Buy what you plan to cook and not stock up so much. This will avoid food wastage, ” said Chan, adding that they offered the RM20 vegetable box.
There is a variety of vegetables in the box, she said, depending on what was available at the shop.
The shop which opened for business last month sells over 40 items, of which most are fresh produce.
Wan said they also came up with food recipes to help customers to decide what to buy.
Wan said she got the idea of selling Grade B vegetables two years ago while helping her husband deliver vegetables to retailers.
“They (retailers) reject vegetables that do not meet their criteria.
“Some of them only want ladies’ fingers of a certain length and shape for instance, and anything longer than that or crooked are rejected.
“There were times we ended up with so many rejects that there were still leftovers after donating to temples and charity organisations, ” said Wan.
Graze Market, which operates from a 120sq ft outlet, has six suppliers from Cameron Highlands, Selayang, Kepong and Bidor.
Edward Chai who supplies ladies’ fingers, turnips and sweet potatoes to Graze Market, said the zero food wastage concept was good.
The 32-year-old farmer from Bidor said between 2% and 5% of the harvest for ladies’ fingers for instance, were Grade B when the plant was young, and it could go up to 30% for older plants.
He said Grade B ladies’ fingers were usually bent or curly in shape, making it less appealing compared to those of the higher grade.
A customer at Graze Market who introduced herself as Mai said some of her friends would ask her to buy vegetables for them.
The 38-year-old cleaner from Indonesia who lives with her husband in Sungai Kayu Ara said she goes to the shop frequently to check what greens were available.
“I cook my meals to keep costs low, ” she said.
Wan and Chan are upbeat on their venture, saying they have plans to introduce fresh vegetable juice at the shop.
Chan, who hails from Bentong, has a chemical engineering degree from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia while Wan is a finance, accounting and management graduate from University of Nottingham.
The two, who met while working in a multinational company dealing in consumer goods, call themselves socio-entrepreneurs.