Greener thinking: Facilitating change
Navigating social and environmental responsibility is fraught with hurdles, potholes and contradictions. Whether it’s the news that the majority of soya production is responsible for deforestation, or the fact intensive farming methods are decreasing biodiversity all over the globe, the solutions to our problems are anything but clear-cut.
The complexities of un-picking this pickle we’re in is confusing at the best of times and the deeper you delve into ‘best practice’ you can quickly feel yourself grinding to a halt. But we’re not alone in this dilemma and the customer feels just as lost as we do.
Like us, consumers are looking for answers, guidance and advice in this field and the fine food sector is not immune. In fact the very notion of what exactly ‘fine food’ is could be in a state of flux. We’ve known for a long time that consumers covet foods that have a story, but as well as coming with an underdog success story, that food also needs to taste bloody good too. Today, we are seeing products that go one step further and giving consumers yet another reason to remain loyal in a sea of food and drink start-ups. Whether it’s using produce that was too ugly to sell, or giving a percentage of profits to social and environmental action groups, what your brand stands for is likely to give you a competitive edge.
These stories are now more important than ever. Yes it’s still essential to explain to your customer why your Vacherin is only available between October and March, but your eco-efforts could prove just as beneficial to customers on the fence and provide another reason to frequent an independent business on the high street.
In the retail environment, there are a number of ways to help nurture your customers into making more sustainable choices. Discounting coffee for those who bring a reusable is a widespread practice, but the method can be expanded through your deli counter to those who bring wax wraps and food containers. While collection schemes like TerraCycle give eco-conscious customers a reason to return, you can also consider being a location to take eco-bricks, or help facilitate food bank donations.
On a wholesale front, there are businesses carving a niche for themselves by delivering items by bike. Whether this is done a-la-Deliveroo, or like the south coast’s Bad Hand Coffee that delivers fresh coffee beans to businesses throughout the Bournemouth and Poole area by a cargo-carrying bicycle.
As awareness of plastic pollution and intense farming remain front and centre, both retailers and producers are scrabbling to steer their brands in the most ethical and sustainable way they can.