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Ugly Duck Fine Foods


Michelle Mascher from Ugly Duck Fine Foods for Artisans Bend

Hail-damaged blood plums, split nectarines, broken stems of rhubarb. To some, these might be considered waste. But to Ugly Duck Fine Foods these are perfectly imperfect gems just waiting to be transformed into boutique food products.

These Mary Valley-based waste warriors rescue unloved fresh produce and twist it into a delectable range of fruit pastes, and savoury and sweet spreads. Sunburnt or misshapen ruby grapefruit becomes Ruby Grapefruit Marmalade, end-of-season capsicums become Smokey Capsicum Relish and bumpy Stanthorpe pears become Pear & Pink Pepper Paste.

Founder Michelle Mascher created Ugly Duck Fine Foods in direct response to the massive amount of unnecessary wastage in our food system. German-born Michelle comes from a family of jam makers and drew on these preserving principles to turn one farmer’s trash into another food-lover’s treasure.

Indeed, it’s been a winning approach so far, with Michelle’s creations taking out a number of Gold, Silver and Best In Class awards at Sydney Royal Fine Food Shows and the Australian Food Awards.

The Ugly Duck Fine Foods range now encompasses a range of gorgeous fruit pastes for cheese and charcuterie boards, chutneys, relishes, pickles and ferments for charcuterie and cold cuts, and jams and marmalades for toast and baked goodies. All of them to die for.


Food wastage is a massive problem in Australia and around the globe, which not only adds to landfill problems but also contributes to greenhouse gases. The more Michelle learnt about the food waste issue, the more she knew she had to play a part in the solution. 

As an avid fruit and vegetable gardener, she toured many local farms and heard about the problem firsthand from farmers. They shared the sad reality that large amounts of their fresh produce was often rejected each harvest, simply because it wasn’t up to the standard size, shape or colour. Nothing was wrong with the produce, it just didn’t look as conventionally ‘pretty’ as the rest.

Soon enough, Michelle launched her boutique food business Ugly Duck Fine Foods to rescue these seasonal ‘ugly’ fruit and vegetables. To Michelle, the taste of the fresh produce is paramount – its external appearance is irrelevant.

The Ugly Duck Fine Foods team cooks all products from scratch and doesn’t add any preservatives, artificial colours or flavours. All preserves are also vegan friendly and naturally gluten free. 


  • ‘Ugly’ fruits and vegetables are turned into fruit pastes, and savoury and sweet spreads
  • All fresh fruit and vegetables are locally grown
  • Award-winning products
  • Preserves are made in small batches without preservatives, artificial colours or flavours
  • Products are vegan friendly and natural gluten free


The Mary Valley is a string of quaint country towns and villages located less than two hours’ drive from Brisbane and 40 minutes from Noosa. The region’s country charm and hospitality is echoed in its many restaurants, local food venues and farm-to-fork events held throughout the year.

As one of the jewels in Mary Valley’s crown, the township of Kandanga is just 20 minutes’ drive from Gympie. It boasts green pastures, a canoe and kayak water trail, historic railway bridge and gorgeous views of the Mary Valley. 

The fertile region is home to many local growers and food artisans, while its diversity of soil types and ecosystems supports a wide range of agriculture.

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