How Richard Tourino is fighting food waste with Good & Fugly


When the idea for Good & Fugly came to me, it seemed logical. Rescue ‘ugly’ fruit and veg from landfill and redistribute them to consumers. In fact, it seemed so logical that I couldn’t quite understand why we weren’t doing this more readily as a country. The more I looked into the concept, the more evidence I gathered that this was something Australians not only could be doing but should be doing.  But what I quickly learned was that there was a hurdle. The roadblock had nothin

hing to do with rescuing the produce from farmers. Nor was it with the distribution. The hurdle was giving consumers the opportunity to experience how good ‘ugly’ produce was so that they could benefit themselves, help farmers and the planet. 

The challenge was to communicate that fruit and vegetables that look a little different are not only fresher and more delicious but also help fight Australia’s growing food waste problem. It soon became apparent there was only one way. We needed to build a recognisable brand that went beyond spouting the benefits of the product, and that communicated its purpose. A brand that demonstrated how invested we are in every stage of the process. A brand that was driven by the community and a brand that showed how interconnected we are with our responsibility to the environment. 

What’s the problem?

Food waste in Australia is multi-layered, and where fruit and vegetables are concerned, to be quite honest, it’s mind-boggling. With 25 per cent of produce never leaving the farm, purely due to cosmetic reasons, it’s safe to say something is wrong. Why are we allowing so much produce to go to waste? Why are we knowingly contributing to the production of methane, water usage, increased transportation and use of landfill space? It doesn’t make sense. 

The more I dug into this issue, the clearer the problem became. Supermarkets are pushing unrealistic fruit and veg standards for no reason other than cosmetic appearance. So, I started talking to farmers and asking about the process, their insights and challenges. Again and again, I was told that the produce was perfectly fine to eat. In fact, it was often fresher than what people were buying in supermarkets. But it was ‘ugly’ – a little wonky, a small blemish, too big or small. 

How did we end up in a society where we are wasting so much food based on appearance? The only answer I found to that question is ‘that’s what consumers want.’ 

But is it? 

Creating a consumer-driven business 

Wherever the problem has come from, the answer is clear. Perceptions need to change. Consumers need to know the truth about the amount of waste that is occurring across our farms – much of it being driven by supermarkets. 

From the beginning, we recognised that the only way Good & Fugly would be successful was by ensuring the consumers were driving the brand. From the get-go, we have had an open dialogue with the community about what their needs are, how they feel about food waste, how they want to help make long-lasting changes in the environment and how they can be better informed about how they spend their dollars. 

Two years in, every decision we make is being led by consumers and their needs for convenience and affordability. Not only is this ensuring we are fulfilling the needs of the consumer, but it’s enabling our customers to learn about Australia’s food waste problem and feel empowered to do something about it. 

An example of this is the recent launch of our mini box. We provide boxes of a variety of sizes, but when we had some feedback that single households wanted a smaller portion of fruit and veg, we listened. This isn’t just about adding more to our offering but bringing all consumers on the journey with us. Why? Because the more consumers realise fugly fruit and veg is a great option, the faster outdated perceptions about how produce should look will change.

Who is coming along for the ride?

From my experience in business, I know the power of collaboration. Finding other brands to partner with has been a rewarding process. We understand that every alliance is pivotal in being able to magnify our message and offering. What’s even more important is that the partnership is aligned and that we share the same vision and values. 

Joining forces with reputable organisations such as OzHarvet – which collects any unused produce and redistributes it to those who need it most – has enabled us to fill gaps within our production process that is in keeping in line with our mission to fight food waste.

Other key partnerships have been our resident nutritionist, Cailie Ford and Cornersmith – a café and cooking school that promotes ‘using it all’ with their produce. Each partnership is part of the brand, amplifying our purpose and reaching more people. 

What’s becoming more apparent is that building and maintaining a purpose-built brand comes down to creating opportunities for our community to connect with each other and us. Being able to talk directly with our customers through our newsletters, social media, and other online events is how we continue to listen and respond. We know that fighting food waste isn’t something that will happen overnight, it’s a process. However, we have created a space in the market for people to come have a look, a conversation and even try it out, and realise that this is another way of consuming fruit and veg.


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