Food waste and rising food costs are two interconnected industry issues that have spawned startups like Too Good to Go and Flashfood in Canada. Peko Produce, which recovers “peculiar” fruit and vegetables and packages them in “mystery boxes” for home delivery at 40% off grocery store prices, is another solution gaining traction.
Sang Lê and Arielle Lok founded the company while they were university students in British Columbia. They launched the business in 2021 in Metro Vancouver, and now two years later, Peko is bringing its first mystery boxes to another city, Calgary.
Having been acquired earlier this year by Fresh Prep, a sustainable meal kit delivery service based in Calgary, Lê says Alberta’s largest city is a natural choice for Peko’s first foray outside Vancouver.
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“Our plan is to eventually expand Peko across Canada,” says Lê, noting Fresh Prep also delivers meal kits to more than 20 other cities in Alberta and British Columbia. “But it makes sense for us to test the waters in Calgary first.”
Made up of about 12 pounds of surplus produce, representing at least nine different vegetables and fruits, each Peko mystery box retails for $26.69 for subscribers (weekly, biweekly or monthly) – that’s 10% off the $32.99 cost for a one-time purchase of a single box.
In Vancouver, the produce has so far been mostly sourced from wholesalers and farmers, who face difficulty selling misshapen, bruised or overly ripe produce to grocers.
“Some stores, for instance, have a policy of only accepting green bananas at point of arrival, knowing they turn yellow quickly,” explains Lê. “But all the food in our mystery boxes is totally edible and also healthy.”
Most of Peko’s fruit and vegetable supply in the Calgary market will come from Fresh Prep.