The ‘Fugly’ E-Com Startup Turning Food Trash to Treasure

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By Published On: September 14, 20220 Comments

With a history of building sustainability brands already behind him, when it came time for Good & Fugly founder Richard Tourino to search for his next challenge, he did so with a guiding principle of seeking to find where he could have the most impact. What he might not have known, at least initially, is that the attractive challenge that he was searching for would come in such an ugly package.

But when Tourino discovered that 25 percent of Australian produce never even leaves the farms, he was astounded, and the idea behind Good & Fugly was born. 

“Good & Fugly is a social enterprise on a mission to fight food waste by rescuing imperfect and surplus produce rejected by supermarkets, usually as a result of their impossible aesthetic standards,” Tourino tells Power Retail, “We deliver this produce in curated, seasonal boxes to consumers’ doors.” 

“Our values are to stand with the farmer and the consumer to unlock the freshness, deliciousness and promise of the vast amount of perfectly good fugly fruit and veg that goes to waste everyday.”

Far from a blind venture, however, Tourino turned his attention overseas to recognise the opportunity and potential for such an enterprise seeking to establish itself in an increasingly competitive e-commerce space through the successes of similar models abroad.

“Our rapid growth and the incredibly positive response of thousands of Australians is confirming this,” Tourino offers. Sure enough, the rapid successes of Good & Fugly do confirm this, with the enterprise having now delivered more than 200,000 kilograms of ‘quirky’ fruit and vegetables to customers since its 2020 launch in Sydney. And while some might snicker at the choice of name for the brand, and wonder if referring to your own products as ‘fugly’ is such a good idea, Tourino is clear that the brand’s sense of humour is actually yet another reason that Australian consumers have been so quick to embrace it.

“We wanted a name that would represent the business well. We wanted something fun and irreverent and something that people would remember. Good & Fugly does the trick!” says Tourino, “And while we’re the first to call imperfect, unwanted fruit and veg “fugly”, people get we mean it with love!”

“We also have a PG version! I have a 6 year old son and when he asked me one day what does ‘Fugly’ mean, off the top of my head I said ‘fun and ugly’.”

Now, the success of Good & Fugly has allowed it to expand to offer deliveries in Melbourne, finally answering the call of Victorians calling for opportunities to get their hands on ‘fugly’, fresh fruit and vegetable options delivered straight to their doors.

“It’s very exciting, because we know the more we grow, the bigger impact we can have on food waste. Almost from our first day, we have been hearing from Melburnians who want to fight food waste the Fugly way,” Tourino says, adding that it was always his plan to expand Good & Fugly to offer its services to Melbourne’s consumers, “But it was the support of our growing community of customers, supporters and crowdfund investors who accelerated the expansion.”

That support took the appearance of over half a million dollars contributed to a crowdfund for the brand, directly allowing for its expansion further south and paving the way to extend delivery options to customers living in and around Melbourne.

All the while, Tourino hasn’t lost sight of the guiding principle that initially led him to Good & Fugly’s founding, saying, ““The cosmetic standards of supermarkets mean an astounding amount of great food never reaches our plates. In fact, 30% of all the world’s farmland is used to produce wasted food. We’re on a mission to make saving the planet affordable, convenient, and delicious.”

“We are focusing on making the box experience as delicious, convenient and affordable as possible. This means learning what people want so we can make the experience of fighting food waste so appealing that it really moves the needle on how we approach fugly and surplus food. It’s only by doing this that we’ll change behaviour, help our farmers and the planet.”

As a part of its expansion to Melbourne, Good & Fugly hopes to connect and partner with local Victorian farmers who have “cosmetically challenged” produce or surplus stock they need cleared, seeking to offer farmers a fair price for produce that would otherwise be thrown away and offer these ugly ducklings to a welcoming home. 

Interested farmers are invited to contact Good & Fugly’s Farmer’s Hotline on 13-000-FUGLY to join the fight against food waste.

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