Two young entrepreneurs are transforming wonky and unwanted fruit into natural bottled juice as part of their food waste focused business model.
Get Wonky founders, Maciek Kacprzyk, 24, and Karina Sudenyte, 21, are about to launch their natural juice business following a crowdfunding campaign and securing funding from the Welsh Government’s Big Ideas Wales programme.
Inspired by the fact that huge volumes of fruit are often discarded due to perceived imperfections that do not conform to high aesthetic standards for retail and other providers, Kacprzy and Sudenyte wanted to get involved with “one of the biggest challenges of our time.”
Speaking to PBUK, Kacprzy explains the logistics of the Get Wonky operation and how the bottled juice is to be launched imminently, starting with small independent retailers.
“We source fruit directly from growers and wholesalers at around 70% of market value. If the likes of Get Wonky didn’t utilise it, the misshapen fruit could only be donated to food banks or discarded,” he says.
“All chokeberries and some strawberries have to be sourced from the EU due to lack of UK availability so these are currently the most challenging.
“Fruit goes directly from growers and wholesalers to a third party juicing plant who liquefy and bottle it. Then it gets delivered to Get Wonky.”
Current flavours include strawberry & apple, blackcurrant & apple and carrot & apple among others and the Get Wonky juices are predominantly available as catering options for events in five litre boxes that reduce waste by 70% compared to plastic bottles.
All juices are 100% natural, free from powders, oils, acids or GMOs, and are also gluten-free.
The entrepreneurs say the business is evolving at such a rapid pace, the amount of fruit being sourced is constantly rising and there are plans to branch out into retail soon.
They have high hopes of seeing Get Wonky products stocked on supermarket shelves in the near future, with premium outlets Waitrose, Selfridges and Whole Foods Market and Selfridges Food Hall being principal targets.
“Often, fruit orchards can’t shift their produce if fruit is the wrong size or shape. We pay as much as 70% of the market price for produce that would be wasted. As a result, we help reduce fruit waste and help growers,” adds Sudenyte.
“A big consumer trend emerging across Europe is a movement towards better recycling practices and minimising waste. Due to the public interest in these issues, Wales has been a great place for us to start our business, and has afforded us more opportunities than we would have had in Poland or Lithuania.”
Big Ideas Wales is part of the Welsh Government’s Youth Entrepreneurship Service. Part funded by the European Regional Development Fund it supports young people aged between 5 and 25 in developing entrepreneurial skills.
The pair are also looking at their next challenge, making their drinks entirely carbon-neutral. Presently, cups and containers used to carry the juices are all made from at least 50% recycled materials, but they are striving to make entirely reprocessed containers a reality in the near future.