Eliminating Food Waste With Delicious Products featuring Jenny Costa

Nearly one-third of all food produced globally goes to waste. That staggering statistic begs the question: is there a better way to utilize the food on our planet?

How about delicious fruit and vegetable chutneys? Rubies in the Rubble gathers produce that’s rejected from traditional markets for a funny shape, under or over-ripeness, or other minor defects. Instead of throwing them in the bin, they’re blended into tasty spreads like Apple & Cranberry Chutney, Pear & Fig Relish, and Banana Ketchup. Due to their efforts, Rubies in the Rubble have saved 351,600 kilograms of fruits and vegetables.

In this episode of the Gooder Podcast, Diana Fryc is joined by Jenny Costa, Founder and CEO of Rubies in the Rubble, to discuss her creative solution for eliminating food waste. Jenny shares how growing up on a farm taught her life-long lessons about sustainability, the journey to scale her dream from startup to major operation, and how both people and the planet benefit from eliminating food waste.

In this episode we learn: 

  • Jenny Costa shares the history of Rubies in the Rubble
  • How Jenny developed delicious chutneys from perfectly good produce that would have otherwise been wasted
  • What’s the process of scaling a small business into a major operation?
  • Never put out a product with your branding that you don’t absolutely love
  • Why Jenny loves the phrase “do gooder”
  • Simplifying your brand’s message
  • The broken food system that generates massive amounts of food waste
  • How the banana ketchup came to life
  • Jenny gives a shout-out to fellow inspiring female entrepreneurs
Gooder Podcast

Eliminating Food Waste With Delicious Products featuring Jenny Costa

apple
spotify
googke podcast
tunein
Deezer
partner-share-lg

About Jenny Costa: 

Jenny Costa is the Founder and CEO of Rubies in the Rubble, the UK’s leading anti-food-waste brand. Rubies in the Rubble make great-tasting condiments using ingredients that would otherwise go to waste. Jenny made her first batch of relishes from surplus vegetables and fruits in 2011 in her small kitchen. Now, she works with farmers and producers across the country to put surplus fruits and vegetables to good use.

Jenny received an MA in Mathematics and Economics from the University of Edinburgh. She worked in Institutional Sales at Odey Asset Management for a year and a half before starting Rubies in the Rubble. Since then, she’s won numerous awards including Investec Food and Drink Award Entrepreneur (2014), Marie Claire’s Women at the Top Award (2014), and Good Housekeeping’s Food Hero Award (2013).

Guests Social Media Links: 

LinkedIn Jenny Costa: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenny-costa-685b474a/

Website: https://rubiesintherubble.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rubiesintherubble/

Show Resources: 

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Retail Voodoo

Retail Voodoo has been building beloved and dominant brands in the food, wellness, beverage, and fitness CPG industries for over 30 years. They’ve served multinational companies like PepsiCo. and Starbucks, startups like High Key, and everything in between. 

Their proven process guides hundreds of mission-driven consumer brands to attract a broad and passionate fan base, crush their categories through growth and innovation, and magnify their social and environmental impact. 

So, if you are ready to find a partner that will help your business create a high-impact strategy that gives your brand an advantage, Retail Voodoo is here to help.

Visit retail-voodoo.com or email info@retail-voodoo.com to learn more.

Transcript:

Intro 0:05

Welcome to the Gooder Podcast where we talk with powerhouse women in CPG about their journeys to success. This episode is sponsored by Retail Voodoo. A brand development firm guiding mission driven consumer brands to attract new and passionate consumer base crush their categories through growth and innovation and magnify their social and environmental impact. If your brand is in need of brand positioning, package design or marketing activation, we are here to help. You can find more information at www.retail-voodoo.com.

Diana Fryc 0:43

Hi, Diana Fryc here. I’m the host of the Gooder Podcast where I get to talk with the powerhouse women in the food and beverage and wellness categories about their journeys to success and their insights on the industry. Thanks for joining us today. This episode is brought to you by Retail Voodoo. Retail Voodoo is a brand development firm. Our clients include Starbucks kind, Rei, PepsiCo, highkey, and many other market leaders. We provide strategic brand and design services for those leading brands in food wellness and beverage. If your goal is to increase market, share, drive growth or disrupt the marketplace with new and innovative ideas, give us a call. You can find out more about Retail Voodoo at retail-voodoo.com.

Diana Fryc 1:30

Well, thanks for joining us today. I’m very, very excited. And I’ll tell you and you’ll hear why in just a moment to introduce our guest today. Miss Jenny Costa did I say your last name correctly? Costa?

Jenny Costa 1:41

Nailed it. Yes, perfect.

Diana Fryc 1:43

Okay, great. Jenny is the CEO and founder of Rubies in the Rubble those of you in the states may not know this brand yet, but you will hear in the moment you’re gonna love them. Rubies in the Rubble is UK is leading anti food waste brand known for making great tasting condiments using ingredients that would otherwise have gone to waste. Jenny started making her first batches of relishes from surplus vegetables and fruit correct. And 2011. And since then, has been working with farmers and producers across the country to put surplus fruits and vegetables to good use. For those of you in the US, like I said earlier that may not have heard about this brand. Yet. You will and I guaranteed it will be fun. The best part of me connecting with Jenny was their tagline, their. Their strap line that I’ve been seeing all over social media and I had to reach out, which is around their brand being good or condiments but good or great tasting good finding ways. Good or brilliant. I just knew I had found a kindred sister. So I was so grateful that you that you decided to connect with me, Jenny. So very nice to have you on today.

Jenny Costa 2:59

Oh, no. Great. Great to be on. Thank you very much.

Diana Fryc 3:03

Of course. And for those of us well, all of us I Everybody always asked where are you located today?

Jenny Costa 3:11

I’m in London. I’m in our office in the heart of London. We’ve actually been in office for most of the pandemic. It’s really amazing for a small business. Yeah, we’ve we’ve been super on it with our sort of processes on trying to keep each other safe. But as a small business, it’s been Yeah, it’s been wonderful when you’re firefighting the whole time. Yes, holding to be in the same room is such a joy.

Diana Fryc 3:38

Agreed, agreed. Uh, we are here in Washington state, our number of the businesses are starting to cut come more aggressively online and big organizations are kind of struggling around the ethics of bringing everybody in not bringing everybody in. And so I get it’s more challenging when you’re large organized, once you’re smaller, you can kind of have those fierce conversations with your whole entire team and, and come to some agreements that you can’t

Jenny Costa 4:10

Yeah, I mean, we’re pretty flexible. Most people are in the office two to three days. So I’m very aware, lifestyles have changed that door, right. We’ve done a tiny bit. But I think everyone just loves being together. And so really, really sort of charities that times.

Diana Fryc 4:30

I love it. Well, let’s talk a little bit about Rubies in the Rubble. Why don’t you can you give us a history? How did it start and why does it exist?

Jenny Costa 4:41

Yeah, I’ll go right back. So this is my background. I was brought up on a small farm on the west coast of Scotland in the least densely populated area in Britain. Very close to my family. My mother’s An artist, my dad is a farmer. And we had a very like sustainability was the heart of my upbringing. We have water from a well that came off the hills and Scotland. We have wind turbines for electricity. My mother was a very keen gardener and would pride herself on the fact that, even in Scotland repeat sort of feed ourselves from her garden throughout the whole year. And she’d always be preserving freezing puree and fruit and veg and anything that we hadn’t abundant to turn into a catcher, chutney or anything like that. And anyway, that was my childhood. And then went off to university, I studied mathematics, I went to the city in London. And very soon after I realized I didn’t want to be there. Like it wasn’t not that I actually really enjoyed my time there. But I wasn’t passionate about it in any way. Get to making if I’m here by the time I’m 40 I’ve been in this industry for the cash rather than being passionate, calm, I was living for my weekends. And I wanted to do something that I was like, really excited to go into. So I was already exploring things, looking at new ideas. And and then one night, I read an article about been divers and talking about people trying to break into the back of supermarket bins and taking food that was a house that sell by date, but perfectly good still. And I remember going home that night and I just kept on thinking about why was the this imbalance that why were we throwing away lots of food that was perfectly, perfectly like perfectly good. And then thinking about food in general, it’s perishable, it’s unpredictable. The supply of it, you know, farmers don’t know what the weather’s going to be like it’s gone and on the weather. And then on the other side of it, we have humans that we decided that 4pm What we want to eat that night and supermarket and we want it in this abundance and beautiful presentation. And with it being perishable when supply and demand didn’t add up what happens. And so that really got me thinking about it. And then I started researching food waste. And this was back in 2010. Where especially in the UK, it was a really hippie notion food waste it was. So they’d been overthinking a hippie, hippie freeganism. But no one was really talking about it from the environmental point of view. And when you sort of when I was realizing that agriculture is the single largest impact that we as humans have on our planet from deforestation, water usage, and the carbon footprint of it. And we have plans to double our food supply by 2050 to feed expected 9 billion on the planet. But yet currently, we’re wasting a third of all food that we produce. Why is someone talking about it and I, the more research more read about it, I couldn’t believe that no one was talking about it. And if food waste and just the waste of it was a country, the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases globally so it’s it’s a huge problem. And so I then started going along and visiting wholesale veg markets visiting large farmers and seeing fruit and veg being wasted on scale. And it was that moment and I remember it’s a 4am and a fruit and veg market and seeing Munch two Beans coming in from Kenya beautifully packaged and they were destined for the tick and I put massive in my rucksack I was going home and I feel like this is just like my mum’s special garden. It’s like you know, there’s there’s just too much and proven that it’s it might those beings might not have a shelf life to sit in a warehouse to go to a supermarket, sit on the supermarket shelf and into my house. But I know I can take a recipe I can I can take these beans and tournaments, something tomorrow the next day that will preserve them extend the shelf life and add value. So I took some of my mom’s old recipes, relishes and chutneys. And, and some men started selling it I called it Rubies in the Rubble sort of play on Diamonds in the Dust and seeing it as something so precious that was being thrown away. And so I just want to create a fun brand that raises awareness of this need to value food again and see it as a precious resource. But also one that is a practical solution to foodways

Diana Fryc 9:18

now, I say I love this beginning especially I always find it interesting. I’m seeing sensing a theme here. I’ve met a lot of founder owners that are math mathematicians, econ major finance moving in here like your use your superpower, and are looking at it from a different perspective. I just absolutely love that. I believe did I hear a term called freeganism? Did you say that?

Jenny Costa 9:51

Yeah.

Diana Fryc 9:51

Is that is that a term that is common? I love them. I’m gonna I’m gonna socialize it now.

Jenny Costa 10:00

is a UK term I used to hang out when I was looking into it. I started reaching out to groups of freeganism who would weigh Yeah, they’d live off of off of what was wasted or dealing waste, and they tried to not consume. And it was amazing to see their values and understand why they were doing as well.

Diana Fryc 10:23

I that’s like, my day can be done. Now, I learned something so big today. So when you were when you’re in the very beginning there, and then you started socializing your idea? Were you in farmers markets to begin with? Or what were those early days, like?

Jenny Costa 10:44

Yes, um, so I was 25. At the time, I knew I got into something that I was super passionate about. And I, you know, had this dream already, if I want this brand to be something that resonates with people, and I’d love to get on supermarket shelves. I’ve been brought up on chutneys relishes, we never really had catch UPS when we were all growing up or mainstream condiments. For me, it was really normal to have a fruit chutney that on the table that would go with all salads and pies and a thing that we had made sort of every day. And then, so I sort of initially made a load of batches, bought a very cheap market store, just started selling and just getting an idea of if people actually liked it, I was collected different sized jars from the back of restaurants, and got materials from from different fashion houses as the as the labels. So the whole thing I wanted to be from what would otherwise be discarded. Very soon, I used to sell them buy on the buy, wait on the Market stores. And then soon as you start to find something, it’s bigger retailers had to scrap that and try and standardize it, make sure they were stackable. But that Yeah, I had a lot of fun with just getting into the markets while getting people’s feedback, seeing what people thought, especially at that time, I realized, first and foremost, this product is something people consume, and it’s got to stand up for its tastes. I don’t I don’t believe that. You can have all the will in the world or the biggest purpose. But if you don’t perform on the main need that the consumer wants, you are not you haven’t got a sustainable business. So that’s why they’re buying into it. And hopefully, it’s the sort of cherry on the top that they fall in love with what you do. So I used to never tell the story on the back, I had one line that was just sort of waste not want not. And then and then just made sure that people loved it. And then slowly started introducing our story. And, and especially at that time, there was a lot of raised eyebrows, because people just assumed it was from the back like from the back and feelings or they couldn’t really understand the concept food waste. It’s been amazing being on this journey. And especially in the UK, it’s become a very mainstream, I think it’s now the main concern for a consumer buying the main food when they think about the food waste and the waste. So yeah, it’s been great being on that journey and just the educational side coming through. But it did also mean from an educational point of view is we we pivoted from just being chutneys and relishes, which is a very small market to moving into catch ups and mayonnaise is sort of more mainstream products, we realized, if we can sell the more mainstream products, you’re gonna have a bigger market share and make more impact from the fruit and veg sales as well.

Diana Fryc 13:43

Absolutely. What I find interesting that I’m hearing from you is your your Genesis was when you were talking when you were thinking about food waste from a food and veg standpoint, and you started packaging it up. You extended that idea conceptually to packaging by pulling recycled containers from everywhere. So it’s like so incredibly embedded in your DNA. When you transitioned and you needed to standardize for retail. Talk about that conversation. Was there consternation there did you have to find the right suppliers. How did you remedy that for yourself?

Jenny Costa 14:26

Yeah, it was a hard transition. So I at the time I used to start in my own kitchen and then very quickly I wanted to be on the fruit and veg market. I was done with sort of getting up at four in the morning and first see what there was. So I managed to get an old they used to Sell Burgers. I think it was like a burger kitchen trailer. A porter cabin and I managed to get one of those and put it onto the fruit and veg market. I converted it into medical chutney factory and was based there and at the time I had a girl sitting on my sofa who was part of a soup kitchen that had been volunteering. And so she was my first employee. And then she got some of her friends from the charity that she was part of which was a homeless charity. And they all started coming and working in the kitchen. And we had this incredible Jamaica, Jamaicans and Hungarians and just this unbelievable mix in the kitchen. And it was a really hard decision going from, from the small startup days selling in Market stores. And we had a little white van that we drive and drop off to all of our delis around London. And then suddenly, foodways started to hit the headlines. And we got asked to come into Waitrose, which one of the UK supermarkets and and pitch your products to them. And we also had Jamie Oliver, who, UK chef who asked us to make a pick a movie for us restaurants. And so we suddenly got this this demand. And I realized in our little kitchen, I mean, on a good day, we be like, we got 150 jars out, and we need to be able to really ramp up production. And it was really hard for all of whether we kept the model we had, which was so beautiful or always scaled up. And I think when I pulled it all apart, there were so many bits of it that I loved. But right at the heart of it, my passion was around the food waste and raising awareness of that. And I wanted to make a huge impact. And then so from that point of view, as long as that was the one thing that we always held on to the rest of it, I didn’t really mind as long as it was done in the right, ethical way, how we grew. So from that moment on, we then found third party manufacturers, we’ve worked with them for years now, seven years, and they make our recipes. We’ve expanded our different ranges to all sorts of different things with various manufacturers as well. So our role as a business really now is sourcing ingredients, we then process it into a format that a manufacturer will wanted to it’s it’s an easy ingredient to accept into the manufacturing line. And then and then on the sales and this is the brand side of things.

Diana Fryc 17:21

Did you know you were headed in the right direction? Was it a moment? Or was it just a period of time?

Jenny Costa 17:29

I did it. I mean, I I think I think I assumed I think most entrepreneurs probably do that. It’s a quick journey. You hear a brand new normally, by the time you’ve heard of them, they’ve done 10 years of building, right and you think it’s a brand new thing? So I think it’s I think it’s pretty good that as a founder, you feel like you know, I’m on the cusp of it the whole time. Otherwise, you might not keep on ticking. But there’s never been a moment where it’s like, oh, I’m really onto things. I do remember the first time getting a supermarket call and thinking wow, this is amazing that people love what we’re doing and are coming to us. And I think that’s the been the wonderful thing with having a business that is led with purpose that people really want to be a part of it. And they want to be part of the story. And as long as the products again are like, you know, taste amazing and stand up in the flavor and do everything else that a food product should do. There’s a real interest for people to get behind it. And to be part of that. So yeah, I’ve never had their real eureka moment. But I feel like we’re still on that journey. Surely when we hit the US?

Diana Fryc 18:42

Well, let’s see if this is a really nice intro. Hey, I on the flip side, and I always think these are the most powerful parts of the business, of course, being a business owner myself. When I think back to those moments where something really went wrong, but it ended up being something that actually changed the trajectory of our business for the better. Do you have something like that, that you can share that you’re like, Yes, I look back at this, or this decision shows up in on a regular basis in my team. Now we know how to do it. Anything like that?

Jenny Costa 19:20

Oh, yeah, we probably got some I remember really in the early days. We got an order for out of banana ketchup, or is it banana chutney at that time, but it was always made it just at home to consume. And it was I loved it. And we were pitching to a customer who was global that they wanted a Christmas gift to send around to all their clients. And we were pitching our normal range but in my back one bag I had this banana, this banana chutney and I am at the end of the meeting. I was like, you know we also have you know, I make this as well and it’s hide it. And they all fell in love with it. And they were like, This is so cool and so different. And it was on the 14th of December, they wanted it by the summer, I’d never scaled the product and never tried it in the kitchen. And I said yes to it, went back the kitchen, tried to scale it, and I just couldn’t sell it. It was an absolute disaster. And anyway, by the time the 18th of December, I knew the product was awful. But I felt the pressure of the captain emailing and wanting it for all their Christmas presents, and that and I packaged it up and sent it out. And I remember the whole time just thinking over Christmas, it was the most stressful Christmas and imagining all these people around the globe opening up this awful, awful journey. And I rang them on Boxing Day. And I said I’m so sorry that people opened it anyway, it was a complete disaster. But it’s been a huge lesson, I think it will be the year from that time, we had another customer and we were struggling to get something perfect. And instead of sending them something, something normal with our branding all over it. And potentially the first time someone’s ever interacted with your brand, that being a terrible experience. We’ve we then said I’m so sorry, we need we need to extend the date. And they were so like they loved it. They were just like, Ah, great. I love how you’re committed to making sure this is great. So that was a huge learning just like never put something out that you’re not you’re not in love with, with your branding all over it because it’s detrimental. And then the other things I think I think I mean, I don’t think anyone can say that. They haven’t had learnings from this last few years. We have had I think we were 80% of the business was focused on restaurants pre COVID. And so we had the awful beautiful sort of dreaded first summer of business just closing off overnight. And but it’s been amazing that I was always very hesitant of really going into retail properly. I’ve always thought it was quite a scary place. I also think the bigger the retail is you get your tiny brand on this huge big aisle and fundamentalism. Yeah, radio dial, it’s dead. And you’re what tool jars hidden amongst the sea of red. I just I can’t go there until the brands bigger. But it’s forced us to go in there. We pivoted, we changed manufacturers, we’ve gone to the right format. And so far it’s been it’s been amazing success of jumping into a lot of the bigger supermarkets in the UK. It’s forced us as a brand to grow up. And it’s accelerated a lot of our growth. So but yeah, there’s definitely been some things where I was like, Why was I holding back? The long rates is the good? Yeah.

Diana Fryc 22:54

Agreed. What is that where this whole gooder component came from? Is it baked out of this last year? Did you just go okay, to hell with it, we’re gonna double down on this and go big.

Jenny Costa 23:09

Yeah, I think, um, I’ve never, we’ve never really had a line that as a company felt tasty and appealing to the consumer. And something that you could get across quickly what we do, in in a couple of words, especially with yourself like food race people like us. Right, like, and as well, I think as we looked at the brand, and the more we do in the more things that we want to go into, there’s just a sense of like, not settling for. I think when I first started, I was like the food industry and the food systems kind of broken. And let’s not settle for that. Like, let’s look for not just being a brand that creates nice products. But that goes above and beyond. So yeah, we joined you as a condenser. Amazing term. Good.

Diana Fryc 24:00

Did you get any grief on it? Using that using the term in proper English?

Jenny Costa 24:06

No, I I was the first person to be like, not even a word. I was quite sort of. I couldn’t get my head around it. And then my parents definitely were just like, good. Oh, it’s just like, what is that? And they’re the more we can like we did a big billboard campaign across London. Summer. And the more we’ve had it out there, I think, as you will know, just resonate and love it and there’s always going to be haters. Yeah. I think that’s a good thing. In a way it makes people question it or maybe even remember it.

Diana Fryc 24:40

Mm hmm. That that’s what I ran into I when I first started the gooder podcast, it’s been a year and a half now. I’ve remember one person for whatever reason, just felt like they needed to, you know, correct me and I said, well, our expertise is in brand positioning and I know that words can be sticky when strategically used. And the word gooder is has an intrinsic meaning there’s no confusion as to what gooder is it’s, of course, bad language, bad grammar. And yet when you hear it, there’s no confusion. Yeah, this person just kept wanting to argue with me. And I was just, I finally was like, Okay, I’m done with that. It’s fun. It’s a fun word. It’s playful. I think in juxtaposition with the work that you’re doing, it really makes the work that you’re doing, as you said, not quite so serious. And earnest, because there is an earnestness to the work that you’re doing. But when you can, you’ve got the earnestness of your work, and then you’ve got Rubies in the Rubble and gooder, like you now create this beautiful ecosystem that people can opt into. They don’t feel weird about it, it feels like a little bit of a discovery. It’s all very nicely done.

Jenny Costa 26:00

Thank you. Yeah, I think and I think you’re right, that sort of the move into retail, forced us to think when you’re on the show against everyone else, like what is one word that can make you stand out for what you stand for, rather than history or quality? Or whatever it is? I love it.

Diana Fryc 26:25

So do you have? I’m curious? It seems like a lot of people that I’ve talked to a lot of entrepreneurs that actually leaders in general, regardless, this last year, seems to be filled with actually some moments of pride things that would not have happened, have the pandemic not shown its ugly head, do you have a moment where you’re like, This is great. I’m so excited. Just a proudful moment.

Jenny Costa 26:56

Yeah, I mean, for us the definitely the pivot, so much work in the manufacturing side of things, pivoting when no one wants to speak to COVID. I think the realization as well that from a team, we can still say so close, whenever I was going through things. I think that was that’s probably the proudest that, you know, our team is incredibly close. And COVID definitely brought us closer, just in terms of the caring side of each other. And, and as everyone will have found, it brings your home life in, especially if you’re doing stuff from home. So yeah, it’s been it’s been very good for you from a team side. I think our customers as well, right at the beginning of COVID, we are reaching out to everyone, when a lot of the chefs and restaurant groups had nothing to do and just missing what we can do to help out they have a lot of free products and just getting our our relationships really strong and joining each other in this crazy, horrible time. So yeah, there was nothing, nothing huge. That was sort of like that moment. But there’s definitely a lot of learning from this time.

Diana Fryc 28:09

Now, there were a couple of things that we talked about when we were preparing for this phone call. One of them. One of the things that we talked about was the use of buzzwords in our industry, and a complicated decision journey, I think probably for brands but primarily for customers. And you were really intent on wanting to simplify that. And I in my notes, I don’t have the exact details. But perhaps you can share your thoughts on that a little bit further, if you might remember.

Jenny Costa 28:43

I think I think I just I’m trying to remember what it was that I think there’s so I think from a consumer, it’s very confusing to know what you’re buying into, I think so many brands and us included, you’re shaking so many different messages. There’s so many accreditations that you can get as well. We’re talking about the difference between Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance and you see these symbols and you assume rainforest loans, that that must mean that the farmers get a good price from this cocoa and actually, you don’t really know the you know, the there’s so many stamps and things that are very confusing. Yeah, I agree. And I think we’re taking probably definitely about B Corp and her yeah, they’re they’re one body that has definitely tried in this mess to, to highlight and together a new standard of the way businesses should run on and put their structure onto it sits across the equal. Look at five different areas of the business and they give a standard of reasoning the practices that you should be doing to be a business with profit and purpose aligned. And I think they’re doing a really good job. I think it’s just as long It’s really governed that continues to be really governed very well for the consumer to trust it and be able to buy into. But yet it’s a crowded world of lots of lots of different communication methods and lots of shouting, going out there that it’s, it’s hard. I think social media has been amazing the opening that up a little bit and those two brands, but but when you’re, you’re quick, and you don’t have much time, it is very difficult just to really know what a brand does or stands for.

Diana Fryc 30:36

Another thing that we well, I absolutely agree with that our organization or our firm Retail Voodoo is also a B Corp. and I’m getting more involved with some of the leadership opportunities with the organization. And I would say, the largest thing for me that I would love to see B Corp do and I wonder what your thoughts are on this is somehow gets a message out to consumers, because I feel still feel like B Corp is very b2b centric. And I feel in order for B Corp to really make the impact that it wants to make there needs to be a specialization at that consumer level. And yet, just like you’re saying, there’s 43 certifications out there already. I don’t know I’m making that number up. Right. But how do we simplify that? How do we make it easy? Can they all play along? I’m not quite sure what that solution is?

Jenny Costa 31:29

Yeah, it’s a really, I mean, in the UK, we’ve now got supermarkets which will promote B Corp, which, which has sort of only a handful of them, but it is a it is a help in the way that people will understand a B Corp. I think the other hard thing of B Corp is probably that. You know, all sorts of businesses can become a B Corp. Right from the outside, they might not look like they’re, you know, purposeful, or they’re that’s at the heart of everything. But I think that’s probably why it’s quite hard for consumers really understand that. And so there’s probably a lot of work needed, just just getting out there getting more and more brands to sign up. And the more brands do sign up, the more people will recognize it against the fight in the noise of everything else around.

Diana Fryc 32:21

Yeah, it would be great if B Corp could be table stakes, as I like to say it like that’s just the cost of entry of B being a business. And, and not needing the certification, but kind of an ethical, ethical set of standards approach. But I think we’re in a ways off from that sort of agreement across the globe. Another item that we talked about was was food waste related. And I find this timing kind of interesting, I just released an episode with Regina Anderson of the Food Recovery Network here out of the United States, she’s in Washington, DC, I don’t know if you’ve met them, or worked with them. And she’s talked about, she talked about how much food is rich, how much food her organization recovers from the network to give to those that are in need. It’s a complicated conversation, because I believe one of the things that you had mentioned to me was the cost, you know, how much we spend on groceries now compared to before, has allowed us to be able to buy anything and have this instant demand that you were talking about. And then on the flip side, we have so many in this world that go without. And

Jenny Costa 33:43

and

Diana Fryc 33:44

I believe that you said it would be great if we could put a little bit more, make groceries feel have a little bit more value cost a little bit more. But then if we do that, how many more people do we displace? How do we handle that tension? How do we handle that tension of doing good for the planet? And doing good for everybody? Not just those that can afford it?

Jenny Costa 34:06

Yeah, I think I think that’s why anyone passionate and looking into food waste especially or the food system, it does feel incredibly broken, that we are wasting such a vast amount of it that so many people are going without in this generation. It’s crazy to think that when we’re talking about we’re so tech heavy, but yet some people have the the lack of the most basic things and how we allowed that to happen in very developed cities and countries like like my own and yours. And then there is this sort of huge divide in that. And I think that’s why when we look at this, it’s got to be attacked and addressed from so many different areas and charities but a place to play. And I think the food waste is such a huge issue that there’s a lot of food that should go direct to charities and be distributed. But right at the very heart of The problem of why are we wait, why is there this food that’s wasted? already? Why can’t people get food at the right price? And I think I think a lot of it is linked into poverty is obviously one thing education on like how to cook facilities of how to cook, do you have enough gas in your home to be able to turn the oven on? Have you been taught to cook from your generator? Yeah. Or are you like reliant on fast foods, or there’s so many parts of it that are quite parts of the puzzle that I think, I think from recharges point of view, from the poverty side and the lack of food, I think there’s a lot of things that need to be addressed from education, housing facilities, even having time like, if you’re a single mother, and you’re working hard, and trying to have the time to actually cook the meal from scratch, which rate pension is more, it’s cheaper, potentially better for you as well, and then buying something ready made or from a fast food joint. But then you don’t know if your child’s gonna eat it. And so the safety of where you put your pound down, it’s probably easier to buy fast food or so I think there’s, I think there’s a whole, I mean, I’m being very generalistic, of course, a huge thing, the part that needs to be addressed. And and I think the area that we look at where a lot of our customers are very wasteful in their own homes of their they’re affluent enough to be able to waste and fishers lost this value. It’s come it’s natural it’s come from, there’s been so much energy people involved in getting that idea, the brand and only two generations ago, and more times where people would never wasted, you know, you utilize your leftover, never chicken, and you then make a secondary meal and you make soup and it go on and you utilize every part of it. And part of that was probably had more time in our hands. And the whole household typically didn’t work. And we spent more money, like more portion of our income was spent on on food. And so I think I think we’re at a huge challenge. And we see it in the UK, UK, compared to America, the relative cost of food is much cheaper than it is in America. And really, yeah, I think things are about to change with subsidies, brain subsidies changing for farmers, but essentially, the government have been paying for us to eat for for for years. And and farmers can’t exist without that, that cash. Because cost of food is too low. And so I think, yeah, it’s a really complex puzzle. And I don’t think any organization or any one person has got an answer, but it’d be hit and attack from so many different areas. But I think where, where where I sit with a lot of our customers, I want them to get the value of food. And yeah, I feel like a lot of that is that perhaps if if we were paying the right price for good food, from from farms and things, yeah, we would we would we would value a little bit more. Like I get flyers through my door for Domino’s Pizza, and it’s two pizzas for 20 pounds. Yeah. And you think that’s a really good deal. But then buying a chicken that was 20 pounds. You think that’s really expensive. But chicken, if you utilize it, right, you’re not just having one meal on a Saturday night you’re having your meal. And also that chicken? It’s an animal, it’s taken a long time to grow. Yeah. And so yeah, that I think that that value on food is just really warped, in our opinion in our

Diana Fryc 38:50

mindsets. And it might be that even that it’s systemic. There’s a systemic approach to this. When I think about I believe that you said that. Back in war time, it was it was pretty common for people to spend anywhere upwards of 40% of their income on food. And now we’re down to around 10%. Is that right? Something that Yeah, yeah. And so I’m, as I’m listening to you talk, I’m also thinking, Well, what if we were to increase it and everybody was to spend 40%? Because that was the actual cost of the food, perhaps there wouldn’t be as many people who were needing assistance then because we would be paying livable wages. So perhaps that’s another way to look at that scenario is if we were Yeah, you know, because back then people could live on one income and the incomes were pretty hardy. And now it requires two incomes because everything’s so cheap. And subsequently that cost needs to be pushed on to somewhere it just doesn’t evaporate, the need doesn’t evaporate. So Maybe there’s a little Yeah,

Jenny Costa 40:01

hey, yeah, that’s a really, really tough one. I think I mean, I think going as much as sort of a backup to 40% would be a real,

Diana Fryc 40:10

that’d be a shock to

Jenny Costa 40:13

the system. And this, this is an amazing thing is that food becoming so affordable has allowed us to, you know, we have people travel a lot more with more income, technology and all sorts of things. But it, I think, I think more and more humans are losing their connection with food. And I find that quite scary. I mean, food is the one thing that goes into your body, what you eat, you are what you eat. And you renounces food and white supermarkets and packages and you you have a complete disconnection there that was once grown on farm. Wheat, and it’s been turned into a pizza. Yeah, and packaged and on your doorstep. And so I think this sort of, I think for fruit, I mean, without sounding too crazy, but for your soul as well to like, try and connect with nature. Again, it is almost our one connection in many places. Yeah. And to try and open that up, again, is something that I’m Yeah, I think is really important.

Diana Fryc 41:21

Awesome. Well, so much to unpack here. Just I love that your brand can inspire these kinds of conversations. And I’m hoping that even if there’s a one moment of thought in the consumers mind, they could be thinking about this, and that the impact goes beyond just this amazing product, and what you’re able to produce through the system. But if we can have these incremental changes, every time there’s an engagement with your product, how great would that be? That would be wonderful.

Jenny Costa 41:58

Awesome. Yeah, I actually think it’s probably the most powerful part of our brand, hopefully, is the message that we hold with the products that I think is a little reminder in your in your home. And yes, it’s awesome that we’re sort of reducing food waste from from that side. But there’s so many other organizations that do and, and lots of amazing new practices as well to reduce food waste in the first place. But yeah, that’s the bit that I get very excited about.

Diana Fryc 42:27

Well, so tell us what’s next for Rubies in the Rubble.

Jenny Costa 42:31

So we having been, I mean, I’m always getting told that I’ve got to concentrate I was we have done pasta, sauces, soups for a bit with smoothies for a little bit. And everyone’s like, Nick, you’ve got you’ve know, we’ve now spent a year and a half developing a ketchup that we’re incredibly proud of. We do blind taste test against the nation, we sort of make sure that it tastes amazing, but it’s got half a sugar, it’s got pears. So we made a pair concentrate that goes in, you wouldn’t know it, I don’t think and we always challenge people to try and taste the secret ingredient. But but our main focus is just to get that into as many people’s households and make a real impact on that. So we’re sort of saying watch out watch Big guys that we really feel like that area has never it hasn’t been challenged for a long time. We’d love to come in and do something really my focus is for that ketchup.

Diana Fryc 43:27

Jenny, I’m really I’m really enjoying our conversation. We’re kind of getting close to the end and there’s a few questions that I like to ask everybody so I’m gonna move on to those. I love it when my guests share some sort of interesting fact or story about their category or their brand. I call it a happy hour tidbit something I can take to my girlfriends and go teach you know that I wonder if you have something like that you can share with our listeners today.

Jenny Costa 43:58

But the brand simply

Diana Fryc 44:01

could be about your products or or the industry how many tomatoes you use a year or something fun like that?

Jenny Costa 44:12

Yes, I think I think thinking back to us of a banana ketchup that we we were terrible at when we first launched affected it over the years. That that product for us is a really fun and interesting one bananas are the most thrown away products and fruit. Yeah, they’re the most wasted fruit because I think people are very particular whether they want ripe or saucy or whatever. And also they come very far to get to the UK especially the gas normally when they come over in the ships and then when they arrive they sort of self ripen and for us as well. Bananas have a very bad when they decompose. They A lot of methane gas as well. So the not very bad for the environment. And they’re very hard to get rid of digression. And yes, that was the main reason why we were like, we have to do something with bananas. And our play on that was to take the classic mango chutney and to have a have a playful spin on something that could be used with a curry or an Indian. And actually now see a lot of people using the Caribbean style. And we’ve we’ve created our banana ketchup that yeah, that’s been a really interesting product. And I think it’s been a really good one from our side and the learnings as our brand. Because we always say, we’ve got two challenges. Where’s the demand for what are people going to buy? And also, what can we utilize that wouldn’t what is wasted in volume? So yes, that’s our funny, sort of our quirky odd products that was really a brain child of wanting to reduce banana waste.

Diana Fryc 46:02

That is absolutely fascinating. I’m going to guess that avocados are right behind bananas.

Jenny Costa 46:07

I just avocados are very good. Yeah, I think I think actually, a lot of the time they they’re, they pitch so unripe that than the rock on the way there.

Diana Fryc 46:18

I’m sure of it, I’m sure of it. Although I’ll tell you if you get a chance. And I’m not sure if you would because this would come from very far away. Hawaii started producing avocados completely different than what we’ve been able to get from Mexico, Central and South America that have a longer shelf life, they stay in that sweet spot that ripe sweet spot for almost a week if not a little bit longer. And they’re, they’re huge. So they’re quite expensive. They’re two to three times the size of a smaller avocado, but you get twice as much flesh and you don’t waste as much you buy one and you use one instead of buying three and choosing one. So I think it’s amazing. are so good. The fat content is so it’s so good. If I find it’s literally it’s a Hawaiian branded avocado, there’s only one if you get a chance. You’ve got to try it. It’s really good to find it. Yes. And they and they only because they only grow in Hawaii. They have about four months on the shelf starting in spring. So that’s that’s the only time you can get them. Yeah. Okay, so quickly. I’m so sorry. I get excited about my avocados. Okay, are there any other? Are there any other women or rising stars out there in the industry or not that you would like to elevate or admire for the work that they’re doing right now?

Jenny Costa 47:48

Um, I think as somebody that I think is doing a great job, and Celia Poole, who runs a company called DAME, she does is a reusable tampon. Oh, whoa. Yeah. And it’s, it’s very, it’s amazing to see what they’re doing in that space. But they’re also reusable applicator for sure understand that of having to have the plastic plastic around it. And with an organic tampon, they’re also doing reusable, sanitary pads. And I just think they’re doing it in a really interesting way. That’s very open, engaging, really good comms around it. But yeah, definitely put my hat to her.

Diana Fryc 48:35

And what brands or food trends do you have your eye on? And why?

Jenny Costa 48:43

food trends? I am very excited about ferment fermentation, because I think it’s really hit us and then the UK, we’re still a bit behind. So yeah, that would be the thing that if I could, I’d have my eye on to really try and ramp up that area in the UK. It’s really dead areas versus talking really legs, pickled vegetables. And yeah, I’d love to do some really funky flavors and be very playful in those areas from a health point of view, but also from a fermentation and preserving point of view as

Diana Fryc 49:20

well. I love it fermentation. There’s a several brands that are starting to get some traction out here in the US that are playing with with vegetables, but it’s very they’re the types of products are the number of products, I should say the skews that they have there are growing exponentially. So it’s becoming I think with the influence that here in the US have, we’re getting a larger interest in wider palates. The US is finally now starting to gain interest in north central and southern African cuisines and some of the outskirts of the Asian kind of recipes that go beyond this kind of standard American fare, so to speak. Yeah, and all of those, including I want to even say the French tend to use a lot in Central Europe uses a lot of the brined and those types of products. So it’s interesting to see how the US is only just now exploring these types of products. And I would say for the UK to from a proximity standpoint, your your drive from some of the countries that use these products on a regular basis in their recipe. So it’ll be interesting to see where the shift goes. And but I’ll be part of your team and say, okay, Jenny, can stay focused, stay focused.

Jenny Costa 50:50

You’re right, you’re right.

Diana Fryc 50:54

Oh, well, hobby.

Well, we have been speaking with Miss Jenny Costa, the founder and CEO of Rubies in the Rubble, Jenny, if people want to learn more about you or your brand, how would you like it? Where can they find you?

Jenny Costa 51:09

Please check out our website RubiesintheRubble.com. We’re also on Instagram, on Twitter, as Rubies in the Rubble as well. But yeah, we’d love to hear from you.

Diana Fryc 51:19

Wonderful, Jenny. Well, I want to thank you so much for your time today. And thank you for what you’re doing for the industry and for consumers as really like a challenger brand. And you are a challenger brand in the big picture and that you’re challenging the way things exist, not just simply a product on shelf. So thank you for doing that work and sticking to your guns and I’m excited to see what you tackle next. I’ll be now that we’re, we’re officially sisters. I’m just gonna have say that exactly. So I’ll be checking in on you every once in a while and seeing what’s new. Please do. So thank you so much for your time. And I wish you a good evening because I know it’s coming on that time for you and everybody else. Thanks for listening and we’ll catch you next time.

Outro 52:09

We hope you enjoyed this episode. And if you haven’t already, be sure to click subscribe and share with your network. Until next time, be well and do Gooder.

View Transcript
Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

Connect with Diana