Sriya Jonnadula, 15, Laylah Corsino, 16, and Taylor Severn, 15, of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, are competitors in this year’s i.Invest National Youth Business Competition. Their company, Grown Offbeat, is a start-up seeking to make food waste a thing of the past.
Tell us about your business.
Grown Offbeat is a service that aims to sell “ugly” produce to restaurants and food production facilities. The term ugly produce is commonly used to refer to physically deformed fruits and vegetables. This produce is often unfairly discarded even though it has the same nutritional value and taste as regular produce and is a major contributor to food waste. Grown Offbeat sells this produce, that would otherwise be thrown away, to restaurants and food production facilities for a fraction of the cost of regular produce. This means that our customers would have reduced operating costs, giving them a major incentive to buy produce from us. Ugly produce is also a major driver of global food waste, and Grown Offbeat addresses this issue by giving purpose to blemished produce that would otherwise be unjustly wasted.
What inspired the creation of Grown Offbeat?
Grown Offbeat was inspired by the immense amount of food waste that is currently present in our culture. Food waste has been highlighted in the media and “ugly” produce makes up a large part of this food waste. In America, over 20 billion pounds of produce is wasted every year, and this is not only ridiculous because there are people starving in our country, but it has an adverse effect on the environment as well. The fresh water supply is being wasted as it is used for crops that are never consumed, and uneaten produce makes up a large portion of the waste found in ever increasing landfills. Grown Offbeat plans to capitalize on a currently unused resource to the advantage of our customers and the environment.
How will Grown Offbeat impact the world?
Grown Offbeat makes a positive impact on one of the most pressing predicaments of our time—food waste. This service will sell ugly produce, one of the precipitators of food waste, to restaurants and food production facilities. By making use of produce that would otherwise contribute to food waste, we can reduce the number of fruits and vegetables that are being thrown away. The company understands the massive magnitude of the food waste issue and is aware that Grown Offbeat alone cannot solve the problem, but they wholeheartedly believe that any step in the right direction can make a difference.
What are the next steps for Grown Offbeat?
Grown Offbeat will join the local Chamber of Commerce to market to other businesses. They also plan to hold events in multiple cities where local restaurants are invited to use their blemished produce to prepare food with for the general public to taste. They see this as a great method to get businesses and the public excited about sustainability and reduce food waste. These events would bring awareness to the problems surrounding ugly produce and will help a plethora of people learn about Grown Offbeat. Social media will be utilized in a variety of forms to advertise their services since it is an extremely cost-effective and efficient marketing avenue. After establishing themselves in the industry by working with restaurants, they plan to use their experience to expand their focus to food production facilities. The company will begin selling produce directly from a future operational facility to customers, but hopes to ultimately automate the process with a website. Grown Offbeat also aims to have a promotional website for potential customers and the general public to learn more about the service and connect with the company.
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