14 July 2023

It's what's on the inside that counts: Strange-shaped veggies could be the solution to rising living costs

| Keeli Royle
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Solh Peltier-Powell with box of Odd Prod produce.

Solh Peltier-Powell delivers rescued produce to the Illawarra at a reduced price. Photo: Odd Prod.

If you don’t mind a curly cucumber, a chunky carrot or a contorted capsicum, a new subscription service in the Illawarra that delivers quirky fruit and vegetables straight to your door could be just what you need to help cut costs and reduce waste.

Odd Prod was created by 21-year-old Solh Peltier-Powell as a small business out of his garage five months ago, and now it’s so large that he needs a warehouse.

“The idea stemmed from my parents originally being in a veggie co-op within the community and also researching about food waste and all that kind of stuff,” Solh said. “I found a way to rescue rejected or odd produce and deliver it to people at a discounted price.”

He said customers can save up to 40 per cent by subscribing to the service, which provides boxes filled with fresh produce.

The singles box, couples box or families box is delivered on either a weekly or fortnightly basis and contains a mixture of rescued and bought produce, depending on what’s available.

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And Sohl said while some of the shapes might be a bit strange, many aren’t even noticeably deformed, and they all are good on the inside.

“A lot of the produce isn’t obviously odd, sometimes it might just be a carrot that is too big or too small, just things that supermarkets can’t stock because they have certain size limitations.”

Demand grew for the affordable service across the state and Sohl decided to expand his delivery to the Illawarra.

“It’s also just good for people to have another easy alternative to supermarket shopping because the supermarkets really control a lot of what customers see,” he said.

“A lot of people don’t know any better than what they would see in the supermarket so for us to come in and to show them another alternative it’s beneficial as well.”

Prices for daily necessities continue to rise – according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the cost of goods and services has increased 5.6 per cent in the past year.

“Food prices have gone up a lot, and not just food prices, prices of pretty much everything, so I think it’s very important that people have a cheaper option for food,” Sohl said. “And because it’s all odd produce we’re able to give people that cheaper option.”

But there is some hope that prices are starting to ease, as the increase in the consumer price index over the 12 months to May was slightly less than that of April and March.

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Dairy products increased by more than 15 per cent, but the cost of fruit and vegetables only rose by 2.7 per cent.

And while fuel was recorded as being 8 per cent cheaper than the same time in the previous year, the volatile cost does vary greatly from month to month, and had just recorded an increase of 9.5 per cent in April.

As costs continue to steadily grow, Sohl said he actually hopes to reduce his prices as the business gets larger.

“The more the subscriber count grows, the more produce we’ll be getting each week, which will mean the prices will come down and we’ll be able to lower the cost for customers.”

To subscribe or learn more visit the Odd Prod website.

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