Friday, 13 October 2023 08:25

'Ugly' vegetables company on a steady path

Written by  Leo Argent
Wonky Box founders Angus Simms and Katie Jackson. Wonky Box founders Angus Simms and Katie Jackson.

With more Kiwis tightening their belts as necessities such as fruit and vegetables becoming harder to source at an affordable price, food delivery service Wonky Box has announced a massive expansion across the North Island.

Wonky Box was founded in 2021 by Wellington farmers Angus Simms and Katie Jackson in response to a large amount of food waste faced by local growers as the result of supermarkets’ cosmetic standards. The two visited growers in Wellington’s outskirts, picking up produce unwanted by supermarkets but still perfectly edible and distributing it via a renovated camper van to needy rural addresses.

The company has rescued over 100,000 kilograms of produce which would have otherwise gone to waste, while simultaneously providing an extra stream of revenue to growers.

“The price of fruit and veg in the supermarkets makes us real angry, it’s not affordable, it’s not sustainable for households in New Zealand,” Jackson says. “There’s very limited competition among the supermarkets. Fresh produce being the most expensive item in the grocery stores, we figured there’s got to be a better solution here.”

Simms and Jackson say that recent weather events causing high rates of crop damage, coupled with the cost of living crisis have caused unprecedented stress among local growers and consumers.

As people become more conscious about sustainability and where they spend their money, Simms says Wonky Box is receiving more and more requests from around the country asking when they would be expanding their delivery services.

With the help of NZ Post’s extensive delivery network and service for perishable items, the company started delivering rescued fruit and vegetables to non-rural addresses across the North Island on July 17.

“It’s comforting to know we can now deliver healthy food options to people in smaller regional towns,” Jackson says. “We’ll now be able to reduce even more food waste, support more local growers, and provide fresh produce to even more households.”

Wonky Box is now available to non-rural addresses in Auckland, Gisborne, Hamilton, Napier/Hastings, New Plymouth, Manawatū, Taupō, Tauranga, Thames, Waikato, Wellington, Whakatāne, Whanganui and Whangārei.

It’s estimated that one-third of all produced food is wasted each year globally and around 4% of New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions are from food and organic waste. New Zealand throws away an estimated 122,547 tonnes of food each year.

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