Q&A: Creating a market for unwanted produce

This week we meet Richard Tourino who launched Good & Fugly in 2020 to make saving the planet affordable, convenient, and tasty. Working directly with farmers, Good & Fugly curates weekly produce boxes out of fruit and vegetables that are deemed cosmetically unsuitable for supermarkets and delivers them directly to consumers.

ISB: What was the inspiration behind you founding Good & Fugly?

RT: After years spent growing a leading sustainability brand [GoGet], I wanted my next move to be into an area where I could have maximum positive impact. In early 2020, my mind was blown when I learned that 25 per cent of produce never leaves the farm in Australia and this has really significant consequences for farmers, consumers and the environment.  The more I looked into it, the more I became convinced that we needed to launch something like Good & Fugly. I also learned that business models similar to Good & Fugly’s had done extremely well overseas and believed based on my experience that this model could do even better in Australia.

ISB: And how does the business model work in practice?

RT: We curate boxes of fresh, fugly fruit and veg boxes and deliver them direct to people’s doors. Here’s how it works: farmers let us know what produce they have, people choose their box (including the size, type and frequency), we curate the box and deliver it directly to them. By paying farmers a fair price for produce that would otherwise be wasted, we incentivise them to incur the costs of packing and transport that they usually can’t justify. The fight against food waste is built into every box, so the consumer knows that when they buy from us they are doing something that is good for them, good for farmers and good for the planet.

ISB: What was the biggest challenge you faced in getting the enterprise off the ground, and how did you overcome it?

RT: The biggest challenge was having to learn the pain points that growers and almost everyone in the food system, including consumers, face when it comes to fresh fruit and veg. We bootstrapped Good & Fugly and in the early days were packing boxes in my living room and later in a Kennard’s storage unit. The whole time we were learning. One of the learnings, for a business to have any impact on the environment, its products or services must be as affordable or convenient as the alternative.

ISB: How has the business fared in terms of gaining traction in what is such a competitive market, “taking on the supermarkets?

RT: We’re growing fast, with over $1 million in annual revenue in only our second year, which is 2400 per cent growth. Since Good & Fugly launched, we have delivered over 200,000 kilos of perfectly good fruit and veg. We’ve been overwhelmed by the response and inspired by how our customers have told us that the boxes and the awareness that comes with them have changed their lives.

ISB: I understand you recently launched a crowdfunding campaign: firstly, how will that extra investment see the business grow and develop in the near future?

RT: There are two main reasons we turned to the crowd to fund this fight against food waste. First, we are focused on growing the movement and we realised that this was a great opportunity to get the word out about food waste and rapidly increase awareness. And second, the strong reception to the concept and the Good & Fugly brand means that we see a clear path to growing nationally with funding at a much faster rate than we could without funding. We are planning on doing a lot of exciting things, supporting partnerships, discovering more ways to add value to our boxes and fight food waste, and have been inspired by the outpouring of support to the crowdfund.

ISB: And, secondly, how do you plan to “reward” those who do invest?

RT: We want those who join the journey to be rewarded in a way that can help grow the movement and amplify the positive impact in the fight against food waste. We’ll be giving away up to a year’s subscription to Good & Fugly, access to food waste workshop webinars, and copies of Use It All – The Cornersmith Guide To a More Sustainable Kitchen. We also intend to be actively engaged with our community of investors, tapping their knowledge and enthusiasm to help accelerate the impact on food waste nationwide.