Eat Me Chutneys

Eat Me Chutneys: Epic Chutneys Tackling Food Wastage

Sydney, AustraliaAustralia
Year Founded:
2014
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
Growth
Budget: 
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Just like humans, fruits and vegetables come in all shapes and sizes. We at Eat Me Chutneys have set out to promote self-esteem amongst wonky yet gorgeous produce. We rescue wonky, bruised and unsold organic/chemical free produce and convert it into epic chutneys that we call rescued chutneys.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if a jar of rescued chutney can taste epic whilst protesting, organizing and transforming the current food system to a more transparent and just one?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

In Australia, approx. $8 billion worth of edible food is wasted annually and fresh fruits and vegetables are approx. 40-50% of these food losses. Wasted food is also wasted inputs (labour, energy, water and fertilisers) and some 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gases are emitted in the production side alone. Food rescue charities target supermarkets that source from large (monoculture reliant) farms. Small to medium-scale farms that produce approx. 25% of Australian fruits and vegetables get left out. More specifically, we at Eat Me Chutneys are targeting small-scale producers that support agroecology and farming systems that are diversified, because climate change is nailing monoculture. By being able to diversify crops, we’re seeing more small-scale farmers managing pests through agroecological means and not pesticides. Excess or produce that does not meet overly strict cosmetic standards produced by these farms is what we rescue.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Our solution is simple - rescue wonky, bruised, unsold or excess produce and convert it into chutneys. Chutneys are condiments made from fruits/veg, vinegar, spices and sugar. Bit like jams, they’re more entertaining. We have a network of small-scale farmers that apply organic/chemical free practices and supply to us their wonky, bruised or excess produce at a fair price – the model is not based on donations or goodwill (the very premise that food charities/banks rely on) but centred around a financial transaction. To date we’ve rescued 1.23 tons of produce, converted it into approx. 9000 jars of chutneys. In doing so we’ve prevented 3.4 tons of CO2 emissions. Furthermore, we run rescued chutney classes to 1/ educate consumers on the issue and 2/ show a practical solution that they can apply to ultimately change their perception of acceptable produce. To date, we’ve run classes for approx. 1500 individuals.

Awards

/ Only company in Australia and New Zealand to be Fairtrade certified for chutneys / Get’s one better, 1 of 2 globally with such a certification / A certified BCorporation, Eat Me Chutneys is Australia's one and only company with both Fairtrade (products
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Field to Feast grows chemical free produce on their small farm outside Sydney. After discussing our approach with them, we are now on their direct dial. “We have 30kgs of unsold eggplants this week, the yield was much higher than we expected”, is a typical phone call. To date we’ve rescued 125kgs of produce from this farm. Mahbrook Organics grows tomatoes in poly-tunnels however is often faced with the situation of small tomatoes. Their first harvest for the season of Sylviana tomatoes had approx. 55kgs of tomatoes that were less than the size of a fist and “no one wants small tomatoes”. We purchased these tomatoes to convert to 247 jars of chutneys. With our approach, suddenly there is a market for ALL produce a farmer grows.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

To date we’ve rescued 1.23 tons of organic and chemical free produce from small-scale farms across Sydney and beyond. This has been converted to approx. 9000 jars of chutneys sold at 120+ farmers’ markets. In doing so we have prevented 3.4 tons of CO2 emissions. Additionally, the chutneys use Fairtrade certified spices (food co-operative in Kerala, India) and sugar (food co-operative in Uruguay) that attract a premium payment to relevant Fairtrade co-operatives. These premiums have resulted in 5 wheelbarrows being bought for its farmers. Why stop here – our first employee is from the Sydney Asylum Seeker Centre (we provide employment to disadvantaged female job seekers in the community and train them in hospitality practices). In 2016 we aim to grow from rescuing 1.2 to 10 tons of produce.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

2016 With our network of farmers in place and organic wholesalers identified, first step is to build capacity to consume upto 10 tons of produce. We set out to raise $25,000 in our recent crowdfunding campaign (startsomegood.com/eatmechutneys) for equipment and van; we raised just over $30,000. The campaign helped stabilise our short-term cash flow as well as created awareness (approx. 10,000 views of our crowdfunding video and national media coverage). SHORT TERM (1-3 yrs) / Setup manufacturing shop in Sydney and extend to jams / Expand sales presence Australia wide and onto Asia Pacific / Setup YouTube video classes for using bruised and excess produce / Build social franchising model for DEVELOPED cities LONG TERM (3+ yrs) / Expand sales presence in Europe and Americas / Roll out social franchising model / Investigate container-kit model for DEVELOPING nations
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Chutney, a tangible product it has a high shelf life (12 months) and can be exported beyond Australian shores. Revenue streams – / Sales of chutney jars at farmers’ markets, shop and cafes Australia wide / Food service chutney jars for cafés and catering companies / Online sales at our website www.eatmechutneys.com.au / Government departments looking at social procurement / Chutney education classes / Collaboration with gift hamper companies / Social franchising model to replicate globally

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Australia - not for profits OzHarvest and SecondBite rescue excess food (not just produce) and re-distribute to homeless shelters etc – this model relies on food donations. Initial discussions to partner resulted in a no go as we are a for profit company. With their focus being supermarkets, we target smaller farms. Other for-profit chutney players source conventional produce however have a good distribution base. We are the only enterprise that 1/ does not rely on donations 2/ focuses on organic/chemical free, wonky and excess produce 3/ employs disadvantaged women job seekers and 4/ holds both Fairtrade and BCorporation certifications. Globally – players such as Rubies in the Rubble (UK) and Soup (Netherlands) have emerged. We’ll first establish ourselves in Australia prior to any collaboration internationally.
Team

Founding Story

The ‘aha’ moment has been 34 years in the making; let’s connect the dots – / As a kid, Ankit saw his Dad grow carrots with two legs. When he migrated to New Zealand, Ankit saw perfect looking carrots, weird he thought? / Ankit completed multiple Oxfam Cycle Challenges and got introduced to Fairtrade practices / He trained as a chef in Michelin starred restaurant amongst all the food glamour / He worked in multiple soup kitchens in London / Once upon a time Ankit visited a farm to pickup 10 bunches of rhubarb. Upon leaving the farm he spotted frail and unsold rhubarb sitting in the corner. I wonder if all farmers’ end up with such produce, he thought? The next phase of life saw all things he was passionate about come together – social consciousness, creativity and cooking. Boom, Eat Me Chutneys was born.

Team

Co-Founder , Chutney Queen - Jaya Chopra A primary school teacher, with Bachelors and Masters degrees in Philosophy as well as a Bachelor of Education she has taught for over 25 years mainly with refugee children. She provides heirloom recipes for chutneys and runs the back of house - chutney-ing. Co-Founder , Annoying Chef Son - Ankit Chopra A Computer Science graduate, Ankit started out as an I.T. consultant. He then switched tracks in life to being a chef and trained at Le Cordon Bleu and 3 starred Michelin restaurant L’Astrance (both in Paris). He works on recipe ideation and looks at front of house – sales and market development.
Background
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

Friend

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Role is Co-Founder and title is Annoying Chef Son

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Climate Action.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

Upon returning to Australia (after my chef stint in France), his sense of adventure saw Ankit run his first restaurant at age 26 (mystery dinner of 8 courses for upto 8 guests set in his parent’s garage) called Jaune (www.jaune.com.au). This became part of the Sydney International Food Festival 2010 and 2011 and the weekend only bookings were full within hours of being released each month. The business venture failed however; passion without business acumen is only ever short lived. Awesome learning!

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

We have an established team of mavericks that we tap into for guidance –
/ Ms Vanisa Dhiru – Executive Director at 2020 Trust (New Zealand)
/ Mr Tony Kalm – Board of Directors at One Acre Fund (USA)
/ Ms Uma Subramanium – Founder and Director at Aarambh (India)
/ Ms Karen Lateo – food critic (Australia)
/ Ms Rebecca Lim – Head at Our Better World (Singapore)
/ Ms Anisha Rajapakse – International Development Specialist at Ka Tutandike Trust (UK)