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Reinventing surplus fruit and veg

It’s estimated that a third of all produce never reaches our plates. Around 170 million tonnes of CO2 are emitted in the EU each year from the food we waste, Food producers are finding innovative ways to repurpose food that would have ended up in the bin, helping us to treasure our food and waste less of it.

At our summer customer event we wanted to showcase sustainable food and drinks for our guests to try. All the beer served was Toast Ale, made from surplus bread, and lunch included locally sourced British produce. We also served Rubies in the Rubble condiments to go with leftover potato skins, which were an instant hit with our guests. I caught up with the lovely Alicia, Director of Rubies, to find out a bit more.

‘The reason for our existence is to tackle food waste. When we throw away food, it’s not just the food that gets wasted, but all the resources that went into producing too.’

Rubies in the Rubble started life as a stall at Borough Market, after founder Jenny saw the amount of discarded produce at fruit and veg markets across London. It got her thinking about what could be done with all this surplus food, et voila! – Rubies in the Rubble was born.

‘We use the brand as both a practical way to utilise food that would have been wasted, but also as a platform to encourage people to think more and see food as a precious resource to celebrate and treasure.... we wanted to create high-quality products to enjoy in a positive way, rather than negative messages about stop wasting. Instead start enjoying and valuing.’ 

Their range of high-quality relishes, ketchups and mayos use a range of ingredients that would have otherwise gone to waste. I asked where such waste comes from:

‘Primarily we work directly with farms. We source fresh produce from our solid network of growers and then have to do an intermediary process such as peeling or chopping to get them ready to be made into the products.’

Surplus fruit and veg usually arises as a result of our aesthetic preferences; perhaps a carrot isn’t the perfect shape, size or colour. In many cases it is us, the consumers, dictating what the farmers have to throw away.

I wanted to know how people reacted to their concept, were consumers put off by the word ‘food waste’ or did they embrace it?

‘At first we were unsure how people would react to the concept. So, we established ourselves in top-end outlets like Fortnum and Masons and Harrods and had little mention of ‘food waste’. We then pushed the idea that products made from waste could actually be better quality than those already in the market. Over time, people just got the concept and we can now be bold with our messages such as our tagline – ‘we fight food waste with relish’.

Innovators like Rubies are changing the way we think about food, finding beauty in waste through their circular products. We admire the work they are doing to combat food waste and their contribution to the circular economy, and we are looking forward to trying more of their delicious range.

Keep your eyes peeled for their latest invention – Tomato Ketchup, which they are currently launching in food service outlets. They have replaced the water and sugar with fruit puree from pears and apples which would have gone to waste. With half the added sugar and the same (if not better) taste as other household brands- what’s not to love!

To find out more check out their website: https://rubiesintherubble.com/

Jessica Parrilla

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