Parker Hughes ’20, co-founder of BRÜZD Foods. Courtesy photo
Emerson junior Parker Hughes recently was recognized by BostInno in this year’s 25 Rising Entrepreneurs and Technologists Under the Age of 25 for co-founding BRÜZD Foods, a company that rescues “ugly” but edible produce from the landfill and distributes it to subscribers.
“That [recognition] felt a little lucky, but I view luck as hard work over time, so that definitely was good exposure,” said Hughes, a Marketing Communication major with a focus on consumer psychology and a minor in digital media. “It was really helpful for the morale of our team to know what we’re doing is making an impact, and it’s establishing a presence in the community.”
Hughes, who hails from the corn farmland of central New Jersey, said his attraction to entrepreneurship dates back to a childhood full of yard sale side hustles and selling smoothies out of the trunk of his car in high school.
“I realized there was a sustainable business model in beverages, and when I came to Emerson I knew I was interested in sustainability. I took a food and nutrition course from a teacher who talked a lot about food waste,” Hughes said.
“I think Emerson definitely helped me figure out the power of my own voice and also provided me with a great network of people to bounce ideas off of.”
Last year, Hughes got involved with the student-run organization, InnovateEDU, which connects entrepreneurial students around Boston via business venture competitions. His group’s venture centered on turning food byproducts into processed, finished goods. After the competition ended, Hughes partnered with Alex Wong, a junior economics and math major at Boston College, to found BRÜZD Foods.
“Hopefully it would not only help farmers, but it would show restaurants and grocery stores that people are willing to purchase this supply,” Hughes said.
Hughes said he hopes that BRÜZD Foods can eventually shift the way consumers buy produce, because the more that ends up in landfills, the more methane gas is produced, which contributes to climate change.
The Budding of BRÜZD Foods
Since the summer, BRÜZD Foods has since gained two more team members from Boston University and Boston College to fill the head of brand strategies and head of operation positions, and the company continues to interview area students for positions in business development, marketing, public relations, and content creation.
The company is also expanding its warehousing facility to add new customers onto its delivery roaster.
“The ultimate goal here is to create a sustainable food system that can disrupt an archaic agricultural supply chain that’s wreaking havoc across the U.S.,” Hughes said. “For us, those humble beginnings begin in Boston and Cambridge, with hopes of expanding it throughout the Northeast and then even further from there.”
BRÜZD Foods’s media channels also are expanding to generate more digital content and in-person events. In November, BRÜZD Foods is partnering with WeWork, which provides shared workspaces for technology startups, to create a Zero Waste Dinner Series.
Moving forward, BRÜZD is launching a sustainability podcast, potentially integrating with a recipe development company to add value for its customers, and will also continue collaborating with other partners in the city.
Hughes said that Emerson being in an urban environment saturated with students and internships, teaches students to be self-sufficient and confident.
“I think Emerson helps people feel more capable in the end. I think that’s genuine. Students end up being more practical, hands-on people,” he said.
“These companies that sustain are going to be the ones that not only provide value to their consumers and themselves, but are also going to have some other positive externality that helps society in some way, I hope. We feel really good where we’re at and where things could go in the next year, for sure – especially because we have time to scale this business as undergraduates.”
By Molly Loughman