The start-up, named Get Wonky, produces juices made exclusively from hand-picked fruit and veg, regardless of its shape or size. It is receiving support from the Welsh government’s Big Ideas Wales programme, which supports up-and-coming entrepreneurs.
The company’s founders, Maciek Kacprzyk and Karina Sudenyte, who studied at the University of South Wales, were driven to set up the business by the large quantities of fruit discarded because it does not meet retailers’ size or shape specifications.
“Recycling waste is one of the biggest challenges of our time, and we want to change that reality. 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.”
The 24-year-old Kacprzyk and 21-year-old Sudenyte, from Poland and Lithuania respectively, are confident that many consumers care about food waste enough to source their food and drink from a sustainable source.
Kacprzyk said: “Recycling waste is one of the biggest challenges of our time, and we want to change that reality. 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 [of South Wales] and several other organisations to have a more permanent presence with them.”
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 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.
The pair achieved a crowdfunded success by raising almost £2,500 to save “300 tonnes of unloved fruit by April ’17 and create social enterprise run by students for students.”
The enterprise also offers farmers a 70% return on their unfortunately shaped fruit and vegetables. “This is a huge improvement to their previous option,” it says, “putting a portion of their livelihood straight back into the ground. These out-dated systems have contributed to growing waste, and disadvataged farmers for years. We are determined to put a stop to these injustices to the agriculture sector.”
At present Get Wonky juices are mainly available as catering options for events, supplied in 5-litre boxes to reduce waste by 70% compared to plastic bottles. The pair also hopes to branch out into retail – with premium outlets Waitrose, Selfridges and Whole Foods Market the principal targets – as well as making the drinks 100% carbon-neutral.
At present, the cups and containers used to carry the juices are made from at least 50% recycled materials, but Get Wonky hopes to use entirely reprocessed containers in the near future. If the entrepreneurs can secure the necessary investment, they will become Wales’ first all-natural, recycled and carbon-neutral drinks provider.
Flavours include strawberry and apple, blackcurrant and apple, and carrot and apple. All the juices are 100% natural, meaning they are free from powders, oils, acids and GMOs.