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College entrepreneurs get their product stocked in Selfridges

Wonky fruit snacks proving a tasty way to reduce food waste

‘Wonky’ apple crisps created by alumni from Barking & Dagenham College are being stocked in Selfridges and munched by guests during London Fashion Week at an Adidas event this month. Born amidst the turmoil of the pandemic, Güsto Snacks’ sales has more than quadrupled this year.

Güsto makes air-dried snacks using ‘wonky fruit’ that would otherwise end up in landfill, rejected by retailers for not being the right shape, size or colour.

Roughly a third of the food produced in the world for human consumption is lost or wasted* and wonky fruit and veg, discarded for simply not looking attractive enough, is a big part of the problem. The issue has been compounded by recent heatwaves and drought conditions across the UK and Europe, resulting in wonky-shaped crops.

The company was started in December 2020 by Barking & Dagenham College alumni Giuseppe Baidoo, who studied product design, and Claudio Owusu who studied business. During his final year of college, Giuseppe started to think about innovative ways to reduce food waste after being encouraged by his teachers to enter a sustainable businesses competition.

Güsto utilises so-called ‘wonky’ food that would otherwise be thrown away and is an air-dried fruit crisp product. Giuseppe explains how its USP is the added flavour:

“Potato crisps have lots of flavour, whereas other dried fruit crisps are quite boring. I wanted to mimic the exciting flavour combinations of crisps, making a crunchy, tasty and healthy snack. Ours is the only one to use unique flavour combinations by adding other ingredients such as chocolate & salted caramel to the fruit crisps.”

Being air-dried, they are also healthy and low in calorie (less than 80 kcals per 100g). Add to that the product’s contribution to reducing food waste and it’s no wonder they are proving popular.

This summer, Güsto launched two new flavours to add to the two it launched in 2021, chocolate and salted caramel and mango and passionfruit. The flavours have gone down well with retail buyers as evident by the recent success with stockists including Selfridges. In June, Virgin selected Güsto Snacks as one of 2022’s Most Exciting Sustainable Start-Ups, bagging the founders free mentoring and advice. This month, Adidas is collaborating with Güsto during its London Fashion Week (16-20 September) activities at its flagship London store. They are also sponsoring the London Fashion Week with their sustainable snacks.

The duo’s full range of healthy and ecologically friendly snacks are now stocked in Selfridges as well as other well-known retailers including Budgens and Costcutter.

Giuseppe credits his time at Barking & Dagenham College as a key driver in his path to business success:

“What I learnt at college has really helped me to get my ideas on paper and put my imagination down into something that I can then pitch as a business idea. The foundation degree was so good, we were encouraged to take part in business competitions and were taught high-level presentation skills which are, of course so vital when you are looking to pitch your business ideas to investors!”

Their first product was a juice made from wonky fruits and in 2017 they won the Shell LiveWIRE sustainable competition. Co-founder Claudio explains, “Giuseppe and I met at college and our focus at the time was on studies, little did we know that we would eventually form an award-winning business 3 years later.

My exposure to entrepreneurship started while studying for a BTEC in Business. We were tasked by our tutor to come up with a business idea and were encouraged to put it forward for a national competition, giving us a taste of what is possible.”

Giuseppe’s former tutor, Bella Parenti says:

“During Giuseppe’s studies at the college, he had an amazing opportunity to enter a prestigious student design competition at the Royal Society of Arts. Although he did not win the competition, it was at this point the business idea was born and he has since worked extremely hard to develop a successful business and brand which is going from strength to strength.”

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