What Does Costco Do with Unsold Fruit? For One Woman, It Means 800+ Lbs. of Feed for Her Animals (Exclusive)

Costco's bulk-food business model allows Stefanie Scott access to hundreds of pounds of fruit that is often "completely fine"

<p>mama2harper/TikTok</p> Cows eating fruit (left), Costco unsold fruit


Cows eating fruit (left), Costco unsold fruit

A woman is going viral on TikTok after sharing how she receives free bins of unsold fruit from Costco — and uses it to feed the animals on her farm.

Stefanie Scott tells PEOPLE that she first found out about Costco's unsold food program "by chance," about three years ago.

"My dad knew a guy whose wife worked at our local Costco, and they actually already had a farmer that was picking up the [unsold] produce, but he was going to be stopping and we honestly got lucky and we were able to take over those pickups," says Scott, who lives in Enumclaw, Washington.

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Now, she and her husband pick up around eight bins or pallets of unsold fruit — each measuring around three feet tall and four feet wide — every two weeks.

"The Costco employees will load the pallets onto our trailer with a forklift and we take them home to unload them," says Scott, 35, who adds that the couple brings he empty pallets back to Costco when they're done.

The fruit is much-needed at Scott's family farm, which is home to 18 cows who go through one full bin of fruit per day (and within about 30 minutes, she says).

"We sometimes give fruit to our chickens (they love grapes) or our pigs, but mostly just to the cows because they eat the most," Scott adds.

<p>mama2harper/TikTok</p> unsold fruit delivery


unsold fruit delivery

The condition of the unsold fruit varies, though.

"Some items are visibly moldy, some look like they have been dropped, some look completely fine," she says.

She is able to access so much high-quality fruit, she adds, because of Costco's bulk-sale business model. "Because of how Costco sells in bulk and everything has to be a specific weight, if a bundle of bananas has one that is damaged, they have to toss the whole bundle, unlike a grocery store that could rip off the bad one and sell the rest," she says.

Because of that, she says her farm gets "a lot of bananas."

"Similarly, if a package of strawberries has one moldy one, it becomes a food safety issue and they have to toss out the whole container," she says. "So it's common for us to get one moldy strawberry in with a bunch that look completely fine."

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While she refers to the fruit as "unsold" in her TikTok videos, Scott points out that most of it likely hasn't hit the shelves to begin with, saying, "really it's fruit they would otherwise have thrown away because it doesn't meet food safety standards for people."

Scott adds that other unsold Costco items — bread and processed items, for instance — are donated to food banks and shelters. When asked to confirm how their unsold food is distributed, a member of the Costco press team directed PEOPLE to the company's sustainability commitment,

According to the company's pledge to reduce food waste, Costco takes "a variety of steps to keep food out of landfills, whether it’s by creating a new product, donating it to needy people or feeding it to animals."

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