Richard Tourino – Good & Fugly – Ep 18
Richard Tourino, CEO at Good & Fugly
In this episode of “Let’s Talk Farm to Fork”, we’re joined by Richard Tourino, from Good & Fugly, who we will be talking to about how their rescued food box service is working towards reducing the amount of annual food loss within the fresh produce industry. One box at a time.
[00:00:00] Mitchell Denton: Hi there and welcome to let’s talk farm to fork, the PostHarvest podcast that interviews people of interest across the food supply chain within the fresh produce sector.
Today on our show, I’m joined by Richard Tourino from Good & Fugly. Who I’ll be talking to about how their rescued food box service is working towards reducing the amount of annual food loss one box at a time.
So with no further delays, let’s get started.
Hi, Richard. Thanks, for joining me. How are you?
[00:00:26] Richard Tourino: Yeah, good thanks, Mitch. Thanks for having me on.
[00:00:29] Mitchell Denton: Before we get into it, I just wanted to give you the opportunity to tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. And while you’re at it, maybe just a fun fact about yourself that most people don’t know.
[00:00:39] Richard Tourino: Okay. Um, well I’m the founder of Good & Fugly, so up to 25% of fruit and veg never leave the farm because it’s not pretty enough. Um, Good & Fugly is on a mission to change that by rescuing some of the produce and delivering seasonal, fresh, local fruit and veg to people’s homes.
Um, an interesting fact. I’m not sure how interesting it is. But, um, something that I hadn’t actually thought about for years um, until after I’d started up Good & Fugly and was kind of thinking about the origin of it, is I grew up in kind of inner city Sydney and my dad had a fruit and veg patch up everywhere there was a bit of grass and then out the front on the front lawn.
And every few months as I was coming home from school, I could tell that he’d been out there putting chicken manure down, because you could smell it from like about a kilometre away. Um, and I remember, I was a bit embarrassed about it to be honest, and kind of wish he didn’t do it.
And here I am now selling fruit and veg and the thing is if it was entirely up to me I’d be a farmer. But my partner who’s a city girl is like, “No way!” So this is as close as I’m going to get to being a farmer.
[00:01:48] Mitchell Denton: Yeah. Yeah wow. It’s funny how things kind of come full circle.
[00:01:52] Richard Tourino: Yeah.
[00:01:52] Mitchell Denton: On that note, let’s talk farm to fork. So continuing on from you telling us what you do, would you mind telling us a little bit more about how Good and Fugly’s day-to-day operations run as a supplier of imperfect fruits and vegetables?
[00:02:06] Richard Tourino: Yeah, sure. Um, so we have kind of a network of growers, mainly local growers, who we speak to every week, few times a week. And so you’re going to get delivered. You’ll have your box delivered on the Wednesday. We’ll speak to our growers on the Tuesday, find out kind of what they’ve got.
Um, what’s fresh, what’s good, you know, what’s been damaged by rain for example, and more importantly, find out what kind of Fuglies they’ve got. Um, We place our orders and they’ll deliver to us on the Wednesday morning and we then pack curated boxes and then deliver them to you by the afternoon.
So we don’t hold sort of any stock at all so its super fresh. So a big chunk of what’s in your box could have been like literally harvested the day before.
[00:02:57] Mitchell Denton: Yeah. No that’s genius. What, what would you say separates? Good and Fugly from other food box services?
[00:03:04] Richard Tourino: Um, look, I was getting a lot of Fruit and Veg boxes for, for awhile, and then when the pandemic hit even more. And I think the difference between ours and the others is we really curate our box, we really want it to be an experience. Where, you know, you open it up. You’ve got a recipe there and maybe a Veg you haven’t used before it could be Kohlrabi or Romanesco.
And it’s all about experience. So when you open it up, it looks beautiful. It might be a bit wonky, have a few marks on it, but the actual experience is beautiful. And we also curate it so that its, depending on the size, a couple can get three to four meals for the week.
And the reason we do it that way is, what I found was when I was getting boxes, they were just jam packed with produce and I could see the suppliers, what they’re trying to do is give you as much value as possible. But what we found, my family found was that we were throwing out half of it.
Because we just couldn’t get through it. And so, you know, the whole mission of Good & Fugly is to reduce waste. So we really make sure that we’re not doing that.
And you know, there are some people who might be used to getting a box jam packed, and it’s a little bit of a behaviour change for them when they get introduced to our boxes.
[00:04:21] Mitchell Denton: Yeah. No definitely, I, I might be again a little bit ahead of myself, So I’ll take it back to the start. What led to Good & Fugly being created in the first place. What was the catalyst and the journey that led to here?
[00:04:35] Richard Tourino: Yeah. So I used to work at GoGet car share, Australia’s leading cost your company. And I was there for 12 years I was the marketing director and head of customer experience. And I left there just as the pandemic hit and I was taking my long service leave and was having a bit of a break, and kind of work out what was I going to do next?
And, around that time I came across the podcast from, um, Pat Brown whose set up Impossible Foods, the a plant-based meat, um, company. That’s something just launched here through Grill’d I believe. And he was talking about how, like what led him to Impossible Foods. And his previous life was as an academic.
Left that career and was trying to work out what was going to be next. And he was looking at what is it that he could do next that would have the biggest, most positive impact on the planet. and I thought that was a fantastic way of looking at it. And so I kind of tried, which would be a bit of an exercise, trying to do the same thing as, “What could I do that’s going to have the best, most positive impact?”
And around the same time is when I came across a stat, that 25% of produce that never leaves the farm because it’s not pretty enough. And that a third of all, food grown globally is either waste to loss, which just kind of blew me away.
And I felt this is something that I could do. And then in doing my research, found this is already being done overseas. In the US there’s a couple of really big, popular businesses and also in the UK, uh, this isn’t a completely original idea. But basically I had a model there to kind of emulate to do that here.
[00:06:13] Mitchell Denton: Yeah, perfect. Continuing on this train of thought. What’s the biggest discovery you’ve found with bypassing the food value chain and working directly with suppliers?
[00:06:23] Richard Tourino: I guess the surprise was at the beginning, that it was a bit of a hard sell with farmers with the growers. But the first time I rocked up at Sydney Markets. And just started, I didn’t have much of a plan, I just thought I’d start talking to some growers.
And, um, I guess like half a dozen that I first spoke to kind of, they weren’t interested to give me the time of day, you know its in a working markets so everyone is super busy. Um, and here’s this kind of naive guy, just walking around asking silly questions. And some of them were like, “What do you mean you wanna buy the imperfect stuff? Look at this, this is perfect, its beautiful and it’s super cheap. Buy this.
[00:07:03] Mitchell Denton: Yeah.
[00:07:04] Richard Tourino: And then eventually found someone who kind of understood what I was saying and listening to me and yeah, I guess the first time I got a call it was a, ” Hey, I’ve got some, you know, they call number twos and stuff. Would you, do you want them?”
That was pretty exciting. And then now we get calls from up in Queensland. Um, actually we’ve bought some fugly ginger from up near Queensland and also just got a call the other day from garlic growers out west. So, you know, a lots changed, but that surprised me that it took a bit of convincing with growers. And what we’re trying to do, I guess, is and what a lot of them are realising now is this is just another channel for them to market.
Um, and instead of all, that stuff going to waste that they can get paid for it and we don’t. We’re not pushing our farmers to give us the cheapest price possible. We’re happy to pay a fair price. Um, and yeah, and that’s, what’s bringing the farmers to us as well.
[00:07:59] Mitchell Denton: Yeah, fantastic. So currently supplying a variety of box options to the Sydney area, with plans to go nationwide. What are some of the challenges that lay ahead for you and the team with the goal of making a nationwide impact on food loss?
[00:08:16] Richard Tourino: Yeah look, I think for us, it’s you’ve got the usual kind of challenges of scaling any business. Um, and that’s, you know, making sure our standards don’t slip that everything’s super fresh and the quality is great. But then for us as well, it’s we really want to move to customisation. So to have the biggest impact, you know our product fantastic for a lot of people.
Um, a lot of people love, uh, getting a surprise and they’re excited about what they’re getting in their box each week. Because they’re not a hundred percent sure what’s going to be in it, whereas, for many people, they want certainty. You’ve either got young kids that are fussy eaters or whatever it is that you need that certainty.
And, so we know that for us to have the biggest impact on reducing food waste, we need to give people that certainty. So that’s what we’re working on.
[00:09:08] Mitchell Denton: Sure, sure. So following that train of thought, What would you identify as being one of the biggest pain points or blind spots in the industry? What, what practical measures do you think could combat this?
[00:09:21] Richard Tourino: I guess the biggest, biggest pain points from our point of view is that people have been conditioned about projects looking a certain way, that it’s got to look a certain way. Um, and many cases people kind of foregone flavour and quality for looks.
Anyway, we’re doing our part to address that, um, you know, the with curating our boxes and introducing people to real looking food. Um, but I think the biggest way, the most practical thing that can be done to combat kind of the waste is for supermarkets to get on board and to like really get on board and not take the, the fuglies, the imperfects out of the plastic and separate from the other produce and actually put them in together with everything else.
Um, I think that would have the biggest impact.
[00:10:01] Mitchell Denton: Mm. Hmm. Yeah. This question might be a, kind of hard to answer seeing as the company has been formulated during COVID, but has there been any interesting or noteworthy shopping trends from customers during COVID?
[00:10:15] Richard Tourino: Yeah look, I think, um, look, obviously we’ve done a lot of research and reading about the industry and economy-wide trends. Um, and we’ve seen it in our own business is the kind of the big increase in online shopping obviously, but also, um, the big increase in online shopping for fresh food.
Which is I guess the wave we’re riding, um, and Australia is behind a lot of the world. So before the pandemic, we’re like 3% of fresh food was bought online. Um, whereas in the UK and the US it’s like above 30%.
Yeah. So I think while a lot of people are going to go back to how they used to do it. I think there’s going to be many. And that’s what we’re finding. Uh, lots of people. Um, who tried it for the first time during lockdown are sticking with it.
[00:11:08] Mitchell Denton: So when it comes to food loss, food security and sustainability, what’s the biggest area of interest for you? Or to put it in another way, what are some of the things that you and your team are researching the most, right now?
[00:11:21] Richard Tourino: Yeah. Um, look, to be honest, with just kind of focused on our core product, um, you know, it’s very early days and we’re still learning and making sure it’s as convenient as possible. And again, we’re really focused on giving our customers the chance to be able to customise their boxes. That’s what we’re focused on.
[00:11:44] Mitchell Denton: Mmm, sure, sure. So on the backend of that question, is there a particular group or innovation within the industry that you’re excitedly keeping a watchful eye on?
[00:11:54] Richard Tourino: Look, to be honest I don’t know about excitedly, but this new, these new guys who are the groceries in 10 minutes, that you can get your groceries delivered within 10 minutes, which I know it’s big in the US and the UK. Um, and here it’s just starting out but look, keeping an eye on them for obvious reasons, but also I think convenience absolutely get the convenience.
Um, but I’m worried that it’s just going to accelerate waste. That’s just kind of feeding into kind of mentality of, you know, just like fast fashion, you know, it’s like fast food. Um,
I think at least even going to the supermarket, you gotta be a little bit more thoughtful or mindful. Um, but yeah, maybe I’m wrong. Um, but yeah I’m keeping an eye on it.
[00:12:43] Mitchell Denton: I can see what you’re saying though. It really could go either way. I think from the top of my head, there’s about like four or five of those services that have all kind of popped up overnight. Um, and, uh, Yeah it could be that thing of kind of making purchases without really thinking about it too much.
And then evidently having waste, or it might be a thing of buying things with purpose and buying specifics. So Yeah, it really could go either way, but, um, but, but I am, I am quite interested to see what kind of happens in that space.
All that to be said, what’s one thing you wish you had known when you first began this journey of delivering rescued, fresh produce?
[00:13:25] Richard Tourino: So my background is customer experience and marketing. So, um, fruit and veg is, uh, Kind of a massive learning curve for me. The one thing I wish I’d known about before starting was the cold chain, um, which is a concept I didn’t know about. So when we first started, I was, so after each day we ended up with excess produce.
And I obviously I don’t want that to go to waste. And so I donated it to a charity, um, small charity, local charity. So it was basically at the end of the day, grab whatever produce was left, shove it in a fridge, or fridges, and then, take it to them the next day or sometimes even two days later.
And, it was great, produce looked great, they were really happy. And then after a while, maybe it was like a month or two, they kind of came back to me and said, “Oh, look, we’re gonna have to stop for a little while, but thanks for getting back to you.” Probably something about logistics or something and then they were going to come back to me.
And then around the same time, I had a conversation with the guy. I won’t say who he worked for, but, his title was head of vegetables and so he knew a thing or two about produce. And gave me a couple of hours of his time and just download all this information. Um, and that’s when I discovered the whole concept of the cold-chain.
Um, and so what I suspect is the produce I was giving these guys. All the way to get to me. And then I spent a day putting it in boxes, whatever, and then shoving it in the fridge for a couple of days and taking it back out, that after the day or two, with the end-user of the produce that it was rotting.
[00:15:04] Mitchell Denton: Yeah.
[00:15:05] Richard Tourino: And yeah, so that’s, we obviously changed our processes now. And I guess the, some ways a good thing is it led me to, to OzHarvest, who we donate all our excess produce to now. Um, but yeah, it would’ve been good if I’d known it to start with.
[00:15:19] Mitchell Denton: Yeah. Yeah. No, it’s funny the cold chain, with the, uh, right conditions. I mean, they can hold onto certain produce items for anywhere up to 18 to 24 months.
And so it’s kind of, it’s kind of mind-blowing when you first get that revelation. But yeah. I mean, you’ve learnt now.
[00:15:36] Richard Tourino: Yeah.
[00:15:36] Mitchell Denton: So the future looks bright. But as we come to a close, I just want to ask you, what is the Number one takeaway you really want the listeners to absolve from this episode?
[00:15:48] Richard Tourino: Well I guess, number one takeaway for people to think about it, is that. I think people need to think about that a third of all food produced around the world goes to waste. Um, that’s all that land, water fuel all for nothing.
Not to mention the people around the world that are hungry. And one way that you can make a difference is by seeking out and buying imperfect produce. That’s pretty easy.
And if your listeners what to try us, if they use promo code Fugly20, they can get 20% off their first box.
[00:16:17] Mitchell Denton: Perfect. Might have to give that a try. Well, that’s all for today’s episode of “Let’s Talk Farm to Fork”. Thanks for listening and thank you, Richard, for joining me today.
[00:16:26] Richard Tourino: Thanks, Mitch. Really appreciate it.
[00:16:28] Mitchell Denton: If you would like to know more about Richard and Good and Fugly, check out the link in the description of this episode.
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