Wuh-oh! Expensive Christmas? Here’s how to triage your budget for January 2023

By Evlin DuBose ·  · 4 min read

Read it straight from Mozo here.

After the combined tidal wave of Black Friday and holiday shopping, many Aussie bank balances may be cringe-inducing. And the cost of living this year looks like it won’t be much better.

So, whether you’re recovering from a spending spree, embracing a New Years’ resolution, or just want a bit of cushion, here’s how to revamp your emergency budget for January 2023.

Download a budgeting app ASAP

Firstly, to know how to revamp your budget, you need to know where you’re leaking money. But if creating a spreadsheet fills you with existential horror, let an AI do the work for you with a smart budgeting app.

Link it up to your bank account (don’t worry, they take privacy seriously) and let the bots trawl through all your data. Once the app creates a report, you can see where your expenses are going, how much they’re eating into your paycheck, and what you can do about them.

Remember, budgets aren’t there to hinder your spending and make you poor – it’s the other way around. They empower you to spend wisely and buffer your finances.

Cut back on grocery shopping and dining out

Grocery prices have been eye-watering lately, so it’s essential to lean into the summer season and shop smarter down the aisle. Buy locally and seasonally where you can: now’s the time to be a bit adventurous with the cheaper produce on sale. Learn a new recipe or two!

Meal-prep and take food to work so you’re not tempted to buy from a cafe. Ask your mates if you can do a potluck picnic instead of brunch (which can add a little sunny magic to your weekend hangouts). 

Subscribing to a meal-kit service can reduce the amount of planning and shopping you have to do and control your weekly spending. You can even order cheap, fresh fruit and vegetables through services like Farmers Pick.

Rethink your streaming services

Keeping up with the endless stream of content can be exhausting – and expensive. So if you’ve subscribed to everything under the sun, decide which services you use the most and cut the rest loose for now. Most providers will let you pick up where you left off if you change your mind later.

Need help determining which streaming sites to pick? Here’s what’s new on each of the major platforms.

HOT TIP: Your local library will usually let you borrow or stream some movies for free through Kanopy, and ABC iView is free for everyone with an account.

Compare energy providers

Summer can be hellish for your energy bills, especially if you’re running the aircon to cope. 

Power down the price surges by switching off non-essentials during the day. Invest in automatic timers to switch off non-essential devices while you’re away at work (or at night when you’re asleep). Stopping little bits of ghosted power can add to savings in the long run.

Next, triage how you cool down your place. Fans use less electricity than an aircon, and opening your windows for the evening breeze is free. Avoid turning on the oven (that’ll make your home even hotter), and opt for chilled, fridge-based fresh meals instead. Crisp, cold tomato and ham sandwich, anyone?

Lastly, compare energy providers to ensure you get the best deal for your area.

Revamp your savings account

All the extra cash won’t do you any good if it’s parked in the wrong place. Have a look at your savings account and make sure you’re meeting any terms and conditions to get the top bonus rate. If you’re unhappy with it, compare savings accounts to see if switching could nab you a better deal. 

Alternatively, you can remove the temptation to spend leftover cash by locking it away in a short-lived term deposit. Many 6 to 12-month interest rates have sharpened thanks to the RBA rate rises, so at least savers can take advantage of what’s happening in Australia’s monetary policy.

Take a look at your home loan

Lastly, if you have a home loan, you’re likely reeling from all the rate rises in 2023 (totalling 3.00% worth of hikes from the RBA alone).

The big banks predict we’ll likely see another 0.50% – 0.75% worth of hikes by May 2023, so there’s still a way left to go.

If you have an offset account, funnel as much of your savings into it as possible to cut down on the amount of payable interest on your mortgage. Consider making extra repayments if you can, too, since this also saves on your interest repayments later. Now’s also a good time to call your lender and see if you can negotiate a better rate.

Still not happy? Consider refinancing your mortgage in 2023: a little headache now could save you a lot of heartache later.



Why we throw away tonnes of perfectly fine but ‘unaesthetic’ produce

By Ash Cant · 

Read it straight from The New Daily here.

An inquiry in NSW had several recommendations to help combat food waste in the state. Photo: Getty

Did you know that making a frittata could help the planet? One NSW MP thinks so.

Independent member for Sydney Alex Greenwich recently chaired an inquiry into food production, supply and waste in NSW.

Speaking to The New Daily, Mr Greenwich revealed the best “hack” he had from the inquiry made sure he used every vegetable left in his fridge by the end of the week.

He throws them all together and whips up a frittata.

“Just by that simple action, people will have a meaningful impact in reducing waste and therefore reducing emissions,” he said.

While the state government is expected to respond to the inquiry in May, there were some big take aways from the report.

Not only is food waste bad for the environment, it’s also a shocking waste that 312kg of food per person per year is thrown out –  while people go hungry.

One-third of food waste in NSW comes from the home, and it exists at every part of the supply chain, which is why the report details several sweeping recommendations to combat it.

Aesthetic standards cause waste

One of the recommendations made was limiting the ability of major retailers to impose aesthetic standards on produce.

NSW Farmers told the inquiry that flexibility with product specifications relating to “aesthetic concerns as opposed to food safety” could reduce food waste across the supply chain.

NSW Farmers explained that retailers and processors have specifications for fresh produce, which play a part in ensuring that food is fit for consumption,” the report says.

“However, they noted that imposing largely cosmetic specifications, such as product weight, shape, size and imperfections, contributes substantially to food waste in the supply chain.”

It also noted that aesthetic standards led to a “significant” amount of edible produce being “ploughed back into the paddock”.

“This is a waste of farmers’ resources and reduces their incomes,” the report states.

“We recommend that supermarkets’ ability to require aesthetic standards for produce should be limited so that less produce is wasted.”

Farmers say retailers reject produce purely for aesthetic reasons. Photo: Getty

Farmers Pick was born after co-founders Josh Ball and Josh Brooks-Duncan noticed the produce at their local farmers market was different to that on the shelves at a supermarket.

The company rescues non-aesthetic produce and delivers it to customers.

“Often when it comes to the produce we source from farms, it looks exactly the same as what you’d see at the supermarket, however it is still rejected due to unrealistic standards,” the co-founders told The New Daily.

They said they have witnessed produce being too big, but usually it is because of minor superficial blemishes.

Mr Greenwich said he believes it should be up to the supermarket to take care of any food they don’t want.

“It shouldn’t be up to the farmer to have to deal with the waste cost and impacts, and the increased cost of that then leads to fruit and veg in our supermarkets,” he said.

What are supermarkets doing?

A Coles spokesperson said the supermarket works with suppliers to increase overall crop yields by using produce that would not typically be sold in stores.

Coles Kitchen Zucchini Noodles, sweet potato noodles, sweet potato chips, and broccoli and cauliflower rice are all made from such products.

“Coles works closely with industry partners, suppliers and customers to reduce as much food waste as possible,” the spokesperson said.

A Woolworths spokesperson said it works closely with growers to ensure it is putting out the “right volume of fresh fruit and vegetables” to sustainably meet consumers’ demand.

“Our produce requirements are adaptable and respond to the quantity and availability of fruit and vegetables in the market, which is affected by seasonality, supply and weather,” the spokesperson said.

“This allows us to work with growers to meet customer demand, while also reducing food waste from unsold fruit and veg in our stores – and avoiding unnecessary food miles and emissions associated with transporting it.”

Both supermarkets have ranges where people can buy less than perfect produce, with Coles’ ‘I’m Perfect’ range and Woolworths’ ‘Odd Bunch’.

Coles donates unsold, edible food to food rescue organisations like Secondbite and FoodBank, while Woolworths partners with FoodBank, OzHarvest and Fare Share.

Coles and Woolworths say there are measures in place to reduce food waste. Photo: Getty

What can we do?

Just because a fruit or vegetable doesn’t look good, that doesn’t mean it is inedible.

“There is absolutely nothing wrong with food that isn’t aesthetic – it might be funny-looking produce with different shapes and sizes, but that does not affect the freshness and flavour,”  Mr Ball said.

“It tastes and cooks up exactly the same as any other fruit and vegetable would.”

The NSW inquiry recommended the Department of Planning and Environment develop and implement a “comprehensive consumer education campaign”.

The campaign should be designed to encourage households to reduce and prevent food waste.

Because children and young people can positively influence their families to change their habits, the report also recommended campaigning on social media and implementing school-based education programs.

The state government can also do more regarding food waste and food insecurity.

“NSW has no central food policy, so there’s no ownership of the issue of food – making sure people in need are getting safe, nutritious food, and making sure that you know that we’re growing food in a sustainable way that we’re supporting our farmers through it,” Mr Greenwich said.

“And most importantly, that perfectly good food is not going to waste.”

Mr Ball and Mr Brooks-Duncan also noted this isn’t an issue specific to NSW, but all of Australia.

“This is a national issue and there are initiatives in place across Australia,” they said.

“Food waste accounts for approximately 3 per cent of Australia’s annual greenhouse gas emissions.”




Farmers Pick  were so excited to be invited to partner with The Bicycle Network at this year’s “United Energy Around the Bay 2022”!

They are a fantastic organisation that not only promotes exercise, but also supports their brilliant charity partner The Smith Family, who help kids in need keep up at school and break the cycle of disadvantage.

We were ecstatic to know that not only the CEO was a Farmers Pick customer, but the whole Bicycle Network team are as passionate about the food waste issue, as our directors are about cycling, a perfect collaboration indeed!

On behalf of our team at Farmers Pick and our banana farmers we want to thank the Bicycle Network for purchasing over 10,000 bananas as a post event gift to nourish their riders which in turn saved them from going to waste on the farm.

It’s really exciting for us to see more organisations adopt more of an eco friendly mindset over the last couple of years!

If you were a rider on the day or are passionate about saving perfectly “imperfect” produce, get in touch with us at Farmers Pick and you too can rescue perfectly imperfect produce which is otherwise destined for landfill. The great thing is, you can directly make a positive change on the Australian food system while saving up to 30% less than what you would spend on supermarket produce, so it really is a win win for all!



Ugly veggies subscription service Farmers Pick rules off capital raise

By Anthony Macdonald, Sarah Thompson & Kanika Sood· 

Read it straight from the Financial Review here.

Melbourne’s Farmers Pick, which sells fruits and vegetables deemed not pretty enough for supermarket shelves, has ruled off a capital raise to invest in its operations.

Josh Ball co-founded Farmers Pick with his friend Josh Brooks-Duncan.

The two-year-old startup works with farms to buy fresh produce that wouldn’t make the cut for bigger grocery retailer on aesthetic grounds like size and colour. Think carrots with two legs, cauliflowers with small spots or zucchini with blemishes.

It sells these to environmentally-conscious households in New South Wales and Victoria via subscription boxes, with a chef whipping up weekly recipes around what’s in stock.

The company has raised just under $900,000 via a crowdfunding round that closed on Thursday evening.

Co-founder Joshua Ball said the money would help Farmers Pick build on its team of 30 people, in areas like operations (pick packers and warehouse staff) and sales and marketing. It also wants to invest in its plant and machinery as sales grow.

Ball’s previously worked in tech companies like Xero, with a focus on marketing and sales. His co-founder, Joshua Brookes-Duncan’s background is in FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) supply chain roles.


The duos plan

The duo plan to put a Series A to fund managers down the line. Which could be well-received given the business model tees in with global efforts to reduce 40 per cent of the world’s food that is wasted each year and contributes to greenhouse emissions.

It’s already on some bigger investors’ radar, who reckon Farmers Pick’s been smart about staying away from last-mile delivery model. Which would add complexity, and from venture capital money, which would dilute the register pretty early. They also reckon the startup’s logistics versus grocery focus is the right fit.

Farmers Pick says it has saved 700,000 kilograms of fresh-but-ugly produce from hitting the landfills. It also reckons its supply chain is shorter than traditional supermarkets and customers receive fresher fruits and vegetables.

The business did $120,000 million revenue in the 2021 financial year and has grown steadily. As Australian households become more aware of the $37 billion worth of food that the country wastes annually of the $1 trillion global total.

Farmers Pick’s revenue was $2.75 million in the 2022 financial year, and is travelling at $7 million odd for 2023.

Ball said the startup had been profitable for the past six months.



The Ethical Investor: Farmers Pick and these ASX stocks tackle the growing problem of food waste

By  · 

Read it straight from Stockhead here.

  • The UN has warned that the world could be facing a hunger catastrophe in 2023
  • The issue has brought focus on food wastage
  • Stockhead reaches out to Farmers Pick co-founder Josh Ball to get his insights on what we can do

The head of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, has warned that the world faces an imminent “catastrophe” as a result of a global food shortage.

The UN Secretary-General said the war in Ukraine has added to the disruptions already caused by the Covid pandemic, risking the possibility of an “unprecedented global hunger crisis”.

“There is a real risk that multiple famines will be declared in 2022,” Guterres told a forum in Berlin via video conference.

He added that this year’s food access issues could become next year’s global food shortage.

“No country will be immune to the social and economic repercussions of such a catastrophe. And 2023 could be even worse,” he said.

His warning came as people all over the world face rising food and energy prices as a result of spiralling inflation.

Food waste in the spotlight

The worsening situation has put the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Goal Number 12, which addresses Food Wastage, under an increasing spotlight.

The official goals of UN SDG Number 12 state:

“By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.”

And.. “By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse.”

Sadly, the world is not on track to meet these goals.

According to Ethical Parters, a staggering 14% of food is still lost between harvest and retail annually, while an estimated 17% of total global food production is wasted.

That equates to $1 trillion per year in economic losses, and 25% of all food related GHG (greenhouse gases) emissions.

The picture in Australia is similarly grim as we waste more than 7.6 million tonnes of food per year, equating to around 300kg per person annually.

ASX stocks that focus on tackling food waste

On the ASX, a company that focuses purely on solving Australia’s food waste problem is Delorean Corporation (ASX:DEL).

Delorean collects food and organic waste from industrial and agricultural streams in local markets, and processes it for energy production through a natural biological process called anaerobic digestion.

This process produces clean biogas to fuel conventional heat and power generators, and can also be upgraded to mains-grade renewable natural gas for use in the existing gas network.

Cleanaway Waste Management (ASX:CWY), meanwhile, helps businesses recover food waste through its organics recycling technology.

CWY’s EPA-approved organics recovery facilities help cafes, shopping malls, kitchens, bakeries and other food and beverage businesses turn food waste into high-grade compost and fertilisers.

For bulk food manufacturers and supermarkets, CWY’s food de-packaging technology takes large volumes of food or liquid packaged in aluminium, plastic, liquid paperboard or cardboard, and separates the organic material to be recycled.

Meanwhile Earthpower, a non-listed company which was formerly owned by Cleanaway, also turns food waste into green energy.

Earthpower processes over 52,500 tonnes per annum of food organics and at full capacity,  is capable of producing enough green electricity to power over 3,000 homes. 

Saving food from the landfill

Fortunately, the solution to food waste is multi-faceted and it’s not all about recycling and turning food scraps into useful products.

A Melbourne-based startup called Farmers Pick is taking a different angle by salvaging food before it hits the landfills.

According to the company, over 30% (or around 2.4 billion kg) of produce never leaves the farm.

This means that if a vegetable has a small mark or is a “non-standard” shape or size, the supermarkets and other retailers reject them, causing it to be dumped in landfill.

In Australia, 1.7 million tonnes of produce are lost every year because of that very reason.

In the past two years, Farmers Pick says that it has saved almost 700,000kg of fresh fruits and veggies from landfill by saving those that were rejected by the supermarkets.

Farmers Pick delivers those unwanted produce directly to consumers’ doors for cheaper than they could buy in the supermarkets.

The startup was co-founded by Josh Ball and Josh Brookes-Duncan, who met at university and started the project after a walk through a farmers market during the Covid lockdown in 2020.

The company’s mission is big and ambitious, and these guys are determined to deliver on their mission to halve Australian food waste by 2025.


Interview with Farmers Pick co-founder, Josh Ball

How big is the food waste problem here in Australia?

“As a macro and a micro economic problem, food waste is costing Australia $36.6 billion per annum. And that’s across the full supply chains, not only on farms, but also in households,” Ball told Stockhead.

“When you nail that down, it’s costing about $50 a week from throwing out veggies and other food as well.

“So there is a genuine financial impact, especially at the moment where you’ve got an inflationary pressures and rising cost of living.

“I think the best way to help with the problem is for people to save some money on their groceries, and then make sure they use it all up.”

How did we ever get to this situation?

“I think what we’ve seen over the past decades is a loss of respect for food at a really fundamental level, because food is just so abundant and available,” said Ball.

“That’s how we’ve landed ourselves here where we just have such an absurd amount of food waste, like 7.6 million tonnes in Australia. Around 1.7 million tonnes of that never even leave the farm.

“We saw that as a massive problem, but also an opportunity to start talking to people and to consumers in order to change that narrative.”

Why does so much produce get rejected by supermarkets?

“It’s not about nutrition, supply, or availability. It’s also not because they’re rotting or old,” Ball explained.

“At a really fundamental level, it’s about aesthetics.

“It’s all come from the specification that’s been set over the past 30 or 40 years by the major chains to determine how a product should look when it arrives on their doorstep.

“We’re all visual creatures, and we do tend to look for the more red tomato.

“If you’ve got 100 tomatoes to choose from, you’re going to choose the one that looks the best, even though there’s no difference between that one and the one that’s got a bit of a blemish on it.”

How does Farmers Pick work?

“We work directly with farmers, talking to them almost every day and trying to understand all the different challenges they’re facing around growing supply,” Ball said.

“Farmers Pick will essentially buy from farmers what’s rejected by supermarkets because of those aesthetic reasons.

“We will then supply that in a seasonal box to customers across Victoria and New South Wales in either a weekly or fortnightly subscription.

“There’s obviously less demand for this ugly produce and because of that, we’re able to supply customers up to 30% cheaper than the supermarkets, delivered to the doorstep.

“There’s that cost savings element, but there’s also a freshness element because we’re getting it in direct from the farmers.”

Is this a capital intensive business, and what are your growth plans?

“With our subscription model, we’re effectively paid upfront so there’s no capital squeeze,” said Ball.

“And on the flip side, when we’re buying produce, we’re rarely holding it for more than a day or two so we’ve effectively pre-sold everything we buy.

“Since we started two years ago, we’ve rescued and redistributed nearly 700 tonnes of produce, so we’re currently moving about 25 tonnes a week.

“But we’re at the point now where we’re set to grow.

“We’ve now got the capacity warehouse-wise and also staffing, so we’re ready to grow five or six times almost immediately.

“We are looking to scale pretty quickly because we understand it’s an urgent challenge, and we need to move fast,” Ball said.



Food waste tackled by uni friends sourcing imperfect produce from farms to sell to consumers

By Eden Hynninen · 

Read it straight from ABC here.

Did you know that Australia wastes $20 billion worth of food each year?

A large chunk of that is in agriculture and post-harvest, according to the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

That’s what friends Josh Ball and Josh Brookes-Duncan from business Farmers Pick are trying to help reduce.

Two-legged carrots

The pair spend their days visiting farmers sourcing misshapen cherries or two-legged carrots to resell and educate consumers on the misconceptions of edible produce.

“About 2.4 million tonnes of food is never taken off the farm, and is simply ploughed back in or fed to cattle,” Mr Ball said.

“Often our visits are met with confusion, because for decades so many growers across Australia have been told what good is.

“Good has always been about aesthetics, how big and round and red and juicy things are, not necessarily the taste and nutrition, which is really what food is about.”

Mr Ball sources misshapen vegetables from about 50 farms around the country, and as long as the produce is fresh, he will sell it.

“In terms of aesthetic and colour, we don’t really have any criteria,” he said.

“And the response has been overwhelmingly positive, usually customers have a good laugh, when the carrot has three legs or the broccoli is really small.

“It’s all a bit of fun.”

30pc not suitable for larger chains

Catherine Velisha, a farmer in Werribee South, on the outskirts of Melbourne, said about 20 to 30 per cent of her vegetable crop is not considered suitable for the larger chains.

“The input costs are all exactly the same,” Ms Velisha said.

“It’s really great that consumers also get to see that other than its appearance, it’s exactly the same as what is seen as a more superior product.”

Ms Velisha said the blame also lay with the consumer.

“If we, as consumers, are leaving things that are a bit smaller behind … that obviously drives what the next product brought in looks like,” she said.

“So we’ve got a lot of power as consumers.

“I think maybe … we feel like the ‘odd bunch’ let’s the conversation down a little bit – why are they odd and who’s decided what’s perfect?”