Giving wonky fruit a chance
A pair of young entrepreneurs in Cardiff have set up a natural juice business in order to tackle what they see as the growing problem of waste and inefficiency in food and drink production.
The aptly named Get Wonky produce a variety of juices that are exclusively made from hand-picked fruit, regardless of its shape or size, and is receiving support from the Welsh Government’s Big Ideas Wales programme.
The duo were inspired to start Get Wonky due to the fact that naturally grown fruit is often discarded due to its frequently misshapen nature. Irregularly shaped fruit does not usually conform to the high aesthetic standards food and drink providers set for the products, resulting in large amounts of waste.
The company’s founders, Maciek Kacprzyk, 24, and Karina Sudenyte, 21, who are originally from Poland and Lithuania respectively, both attended the University of South Wales, and say lack of food recycling is a major problem around the world. They feel many consumers care about food waste enough to source their food and drink from a sustainable source.
At present Get Wonky juices are predominantly available as catering options for events – arriving in 5 litre boxes that reduce waste by 70% compared to plastic bottles. However, the enterprising pair also have plans to branch out into retail, with high hopes of seeing their products stocked on supermarket shelves in the near future, with premium outlets Waitrose, Selfridges and Whole Foods Market being their principal targets.
Flavours include Strawberry & Apple, Blackcurrant & Apple and Carrot & Apple among others. All juices are 100% natural, free from powders, oils, acids or GMOs, and are also gluten-free.
Maciek, a recent law graduate, said: “Get Wonky was born out of a desire to combat the massive problem of food waste in Europe. Recycling waste is one of the biggest challenges of our time, and we want to change that reality.”
“And clearly, many people agree. We recently ran a crowd-funding campaign that raised just under £3,000 to help get our stock going, which led to further interest from investors. Orders have started coming in and we’ve been approached by the university and several other organisations to have a more permanent presence with them.”
Karina, an Associate Management student, added: “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.”
“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.”
Get Wonky has also been supported by Big Ideas Wales – 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.
Maciek and Karina recently attended the Big Ideas Wales Bootcamp for Business event, where they, along with 50 budding young entrepreneurs, spent a weekend partaking in workshops and tutorials and learning from Big Ideas Wales role models – successful Welsh entrepreneurs who now assist the Welsh Government’s youth entrepreneurship programme to foster the next generation of commercial talent.
Maciek said: “Bootcamp was incredibly valuable to us. We took part in a pitching competition which gave us a lot of confidence in our business idea, and met with real social media and marketing gurus who told us how to get our idea on the map. We’ll be keeping in touch with all our mentors and fellow entrepreneurs from the weekend going forward.”
The pair are also looking for 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. If the pair can secure the necessary investment, they will be Wales’ first all-natural, recycled and carbon-neutral drinks provider.
The Get Wonky range can be viewed at www.wonkydrinks.co.uk, and for more information on Big Ideas Wales, visit www.bigideaswales.com.