Stories and Viewpoints

Saving the Planet, One Ugly Fruit at a Time

By Jennifer C. Yates


Wooden crates were set in long lines around the room as masked volunteers walked each row, adding boxes of small red strawberries, oversized heads of broccoli, misshapen melons and bunches of leafy greens to each one. The colorful produce was from local farmers and, once packed into the crates, would be loaded into a van and sold to families nearby.


The effort is part of the Fruta Feia, or “Ugly Fruit,” project, a cooperative which aims to eliminate food waste by selling fruits or vegetables that farmers are unable to sell commercially because they are not up to aesthetic standards. Ensuring consumers can access these healthy foods also has various other positive effects, such as promoting good health and wellbeing and reducing the intensity of fresh produce environmental impacts by reducing the overall waste of food. All of these aspects of the “Ugly Fruit” project align with our mission to empower people worldwide to live healthier at every stage of life.


Colleagues from Viatris volunteered at the program as part of Grace, a nonprofit group made up of companies committed to promoting corporate social responsibility. Viatris’ team in Portugal became a member of Grace this year.


“A simple act in our daily lives can contribute to improving the wellbeing of someone in our community. Therefore, I try to help when I know I can make a difference,” said Carla Cruz, assistant to the Viatris Portugal country manager.


As a signatory to the UN Global Compact, Viatris is dedicated to progressing the UN’s sustainable development in goals. In Portugal, the team identified three goals in particular where they wanted to make an impact: quality health, sustainable production and consumption, and partnerships for the implementation of objectives.


The team established a local Social Responsibility Committee, which is charged with identifying opportunities and developing various corporate social responsibility activities within the company’s Portugal business. So far, they have organized several volunteer opportunities for employees.


Susanna Castilho, a Communications coordinator, said she was raised with the belief that giving back was important and immediately decided to participate in the Grace program when Viatris signed on.


She and other volunteers said they most enjoyed the opportunity to learn from other people and work as a team while making a difference.


“Volunteering should be within all of us to contribute to helping create a better world, and is always a unique and rewarding experience,” said Dina Marques, a Viatris sales assistant. “When we give a little of ourselves, we receive twice as much in return.”

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