The growing popularity of the company throughout the North Island, particularly amid the cost of living crisis, has long led to an influx of messages calling on the initiative to venture south, the firm says.
Working alongside South Island growers, the team at Wonky Box say they have now been able to make this happen, employing a staff of 17 southerners, including an on-the-ground grower liaison responsible for building and maintaining strong relationships with growers throughout the South Island.
The business had already gained 1400 new South Island customers, many of whom are opting for medium-to-large-size boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables, it said.
“Our core mission is to reduce waste, make fresh produce accessible and affordable, and provide our local growers with the support they deserve,” co-founder Angus Simms said.
“Local growers have been hard hit with severe weather events and inflationary costs.
“We partner with them to help both reduce their waste and provide them with an extra revenue stream.”
Globally, an estimated one-third of fruits and vegetables are wasted annually, and 4 percent of New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions result from food and organic waste, according to Ministry for the Environment data from July.
Wonky Box said last year alone it diverted 2 million kg of produce from waste, while simultaneously providing some relief to local growers and providing quality produce to households.
Co-founder Katie Jackson said the operational costs for growing fruit and vegetables remained the same, regardless of their appearance.
She said any produce rejected by larger retailers resulted in a loss to growers.
“It was really important to us that we pay a fair rate for the fruit and vegetables we purchase from growers.”
Jackson said Wonky Box had a unique business model in place that was both sustainable and economically viable.
“By partnering with us, growers not only reduce their waste costs significantly, but also recoup lost profits by having a buyer for the produce they wouldn’t typically sell.
“It’s beneficial for businesses, the planet, and for Kiwis at home needing an affordable alternative to fresh produce without skimping on quality.”