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Bread & Jam’s Future Summit 2023: Top Takeaways From FMCG's Leading Brands
Lessons from Tony Chocolonely, ODDBOX, Belazu, Pip & Nut and more...
On Tuesday 23rd May, FMCG’s most passionate sustainability advocates gathered at Conway Hall in London for Bread & Jam’s Future Summit, powered by GS1 UK. From greener supply chains and the pros and cons of climate accreditations, to engaging consumers and buyers in the mission of your brand, the day was packed with lessons and learnings from the industry’s leading voices.
Didn’t make it? Don’t worry! Read on for your official rundown of actionable takeaways for your brand.
Bringing together 4 key learnings from each of the 8 talks, let’s dig in:
👉 How are Tony’s Chocolonely Building a Purpose-Led Business Profitably?
Speaker: Ben Greensmith - Lord Chocolonely iii UK and Ireland Country Manager - Tony's Chocolonely
Tony's Chocolonely built their business with a clear goal in mind; to make all chocolate free of slavery and child labour. Two thirds of the world’s cocoa comes from Ghana and the Ivory Coast, with 1.6 million children working on cocoa farms.They have made it their mission to address this and formed a coalition of change-makers to drive change across the industry.
“We want to show other chocolate brands that our model can be copied, can be scaled and can be profitable” - Ben Greensmith
Our 4 Key Takeaways:
Be transparent and take accountability: Tony’s take accountability for cases of child labour by openly acknowledging and remedying them. They commit to paying farmers a higher price to keep their families above the poverty line and discourage child labour. Be honest, transparent and take accountability for your social and environmental impact when you can.
Create transparent supply chains, even if it’s against the norm: Tony’s start with transparency at their farm level by tracing the origin of cocoa and ensuring ethical practices throughout the supply chain. Purpose-led food businesses should strive for transparency and traceability at every stage of their supply chain.
Demonstrate how you’re different to the incumbent players, at every stage: Tony’s encourages other major players in the cocoa industry to adopt changes in their supply chains to eradicate child slavery. Lead by example and inspire other companies in the industry to adopt responsible practices and foster a collective effort.
Focus on one thing, and do it really really well: Tony’s identifies the major environmental impact of chocolate with a 5.5kg CO2e carbon footprint. They found that nearly half of this carbon footprint comes from milk powder. Since milk chocolate is where the demand lies, they focused their attention on how they can make an impact here, and offset when they need to. Know where you can make an impact and do it really well.
👉 How can you build a pathway to netzero?
Chaired by: Amirah Jiwa - Social Impact and Sustainability Consultant
The opening panel of the day featured inspiring women from Oddbox, Pip & Nut, and Flawsome!, sharing their experiences in reducing their food brands' carbon footprint. Each brand had a distinct core mission, such as addressing food waste, combating food surplus, or eliminating palm oil from products. Alongside their primary missions, the panellists discussed their progress towards achieving net zero targets.
“[Think] about the environment more holistically rather than [with a] carbon tunnel vision“ - Heather Lynch
Our 4 Key Takeaways:
Build partnerships with carbon experts to help reach your goals: Building partnerships with carbon experts can facilitate your journey to net zero. Addressing Scope 3 emissions, which can be the hardest to reduce, requires involvement and influence from experts throughout the supply chain.
Make public declarations to demonstrate commitment: Publicly declaring sustainability goals and initiatives can showcase a brand's dedication to sustainability to both consumers and retailers. Utilising reputable certifications, like B Corp and carbon neutrality, can add credibility to your sustainability claims.
That said, emphasise actions over claims: Instead of relying solely on claims, focus on communicating tangible actions and targets achieved. Comply with regulations such as the Green Claims Code and UK ASA guidelines to maintain transparency and avoid misleading messaging.
Choose offset projects that align with your brand’s values: If considering carbon offsets, partner with projects that align with your business's values and priorities. Ensuring alignment will enhance the effectiveness and authenticity of offsetting efforts, for example, Flawsome! offset with three different projects including biodiversity conservation in Peru and wind farms in Turkey.
👉 Do UK customers care about sustainability?
Sara Reid detailed KANTAR’s consumer insights, with 99,000 respondents, on the impact of the cost of living crisis for sustainable purchasing decisions. At the same time, Sara made it clear that, based on their research, a huge opportunity still stands for brands.
“‘Eco-actives’ are still hungry for more choices, but the wider population need sustainable brands to be more competitive on price” - Sara Reid
Our 4 Key Takeaways:
Profile your customers: KANTAR categorised their consumers into ‘eco-active’, ‘eco-considerates’ and ‘eco-dismissers’. Eco-actives are receding for the first time in years due to the cost of living crisis. However, they are still worth 29 billion to the FMCG industry. Therefore, sustainable brands must work harder to convert these shoppers.
Know their challenges: Knowing your customers’ challenges will give you the armoury to tackle them. KANTAR found that price, perception and proliferation were the key barriers. Understand these and show customers that making a sustainable choice doesn’t have to be a compromise through competitive pricing, strengthened brand perception and increased proliferation of the market.
Put the right offer in front of customers: As a case study, Cauldron over-index on ‘eco-active’ consumers. To tap into this they expanded their chilled range and increased their promotions from 27% in 2020 to 39% today and now receive a 7.6% penetration in their market. Use promotions to address the increased value scrutiny from consumers.
Address increased scrutiny on sustainability credentials: 53% of ‘eco-actives’ believe brands use eco-claims as a marketing tool. In response, show more than your sustainability credentials in your marketing. For example, if you’ve made changes to your packaging, show the direct impact and reduced carbon footprint of these initiatives.
👉 How can you engage consumers into taking action?
There has been a 950% increase in Google searches of ‘green hushing’. Consumers are more critical of brands' eco-motives than ever, with 31% saying brands use eco-claims as a marketing tool. We heard from Innocent Drinks, Pukka Tea and Scrapples on how they authentically engage with consumers to choose sustainable brands.
“If you do things because they make sense for marketing you’re almost certainly doing them for the wrong reasons” - Fox
Our 4 Key Takeaways:
Be a great product first, a force for good second: There never will be any substitute for the quality of what you produce, it’s why people buy what you sell. Once you’ve built a great product then consider how you can offer something beyond the commodity. You’ve got to have a great product and be a force for good. So, win at one thing and do it really well i.e. if your product helps fight food waste, focus on that.
Be careful with aspirational claims: Ensure you can prove to whoever wants to know the reality of your claim. Imagine you’re talking to your cynical friend and ensure you can prove your claims before announcing them. Innocent learnt this lesson the hard way with their ASA complaint and openly shared their story for other brands to learn from.
Make it easy for consumers: People will tell you in a survey that sustainability is really important to them, but when they get to the point of purchase with half a second to make a decision the reality looks different. Make your messaging clear, get your pricing right and ensure that you’re front of mind in that split second decision.
Build brand love: Big brands can slash prices to be front of mind which can get in the way of intentional and sustainable purchasing decisions. So, to overcome this, share your story, and your authentic intentions to build a strong connection to the brand and mission. Social media is a great platform for this.
👉 How can food & drink businesses get our planet into shape?
Henry Dimbleby, author of the National Food Strategy and co-founder of Leon restaurant, led us through his insights on how to get our country’s former food-system back on track, and the role that food & drink brands have in achieving this.
“The way we produce food is putting at risk the way that we produce food” - Henry Dimbleby
Our 4 Key Takeaways:
Change the system with education first: 85% of the land we use to feed ourselves is used to grow animals. This is incredibly inefficient. If we educate consumers on the failings of our current food system we can facilitate change. For example, to reduce meat use by 30% would be transformational. Brands can help educate consumers on the impact of making sustainable food choices.
Be inspired by the opportunity for change: Our current food system, and its failings, will be the biggest cause for non communicable disease in the future. Food and drink brands can be inspired by the role they play in addressing this and improving our public health.
Be systematic: Trying to be sustainable whilst running a startup is hard. So, do one or two things, and do them really well. Then do one or two more things the next year. Dimbleby says, “Be happy not to be doing everything but do something”.
The only thing that is strategic is revenue: Never lose sight of your product as a consumer brand. Be obsessive about making your product better than your competitors. When you’re making revenue, you can then use your strong position as a brand to make an impact.
👉 What steps can you take to “green” your supply chain?
From eco-friendly packaging to low carbon transport, we heard from Louise O’Connor, Alex Stewart and Linde Stael on the approaches they’ve taken to “green” their supply chain.
“Look at each part of the puzzle and ask, ‘What can you do better?’” - Alex Steward
Our 4 Key Takeaways:
Build strong relationships with your suppliers: Listen closely to what they have to say and work with them. The UK is far ahead when it comes to being responsible with high expectations from retailers and consumers - utilise that.
Ask the questions and interrogate what you can do better: For example, PACK’D moved from plastic pouches to paper, but customers found it was too bulky for their freezers. This led them to innovate the current paper film packaging they use today. They have now removed 15 tonnes of plastic a year and created a solution that’s curbside recyclable. Keep asking what you can do better to find creative solutions.
Educate your consumers on the why behind your decision: Ensure they know why a packaging decision is the right one for you. Know what packaging is responsible for your business, then have the conviction to explain this to your consumers. For example, if packaging your product in glass is the right thing to do, then do that and communicate it with confidence.
Identify your non-negotiables: If you value frozen food as a way to reduce food waste, establish that for yourself as a non-negotiable. Figure out what you’re willing to compromise on and make sure that’s maintained as you grow. Build something that works for you and the consumer.
👉 How can you build social responsibility and sustainability into the core of your business?
Three purpose-led founders that built social responsibility and sustainability into their business shared their advice and lessons on how to action your purpose-led missions.
“The job is always starting. It doesn’t matter if you start tomorrow or [if] you started last year, the important step is to start” - Duncan Goose
Our 4 Key Takeaways:
Just start: If you’re a small company, you have the agility to start making an impact. It doesn’t matter how big that step is, just take the leap. Don’t be bogged down with the size because helping just one beneficiary is more than doing nothing at all.
Check the relevancy of certifications: If you’re thinking about sustainability certifications, clearly assess their brand awareness. Do it because you believe in it, but also because consumers will understand its relevance. Think about what you’ll get from it before you spend a significant sum.
Bring your team along in your mission: With changes in the job market following the pandemic, more people are looking for jobs in good companies with a positive impact. From day one, bring your team along with you in your mission. Ensure that they believe their life and work is inspiring and that they work for a cause they believe in.
Think about your investors: Investors will now ask for tangible emission factors and reductions to your business. Think about who you’re bringing on board and be prepared for investors to ask questions about your ESG metrics.
👉 Why sustainability sells? A buyer’s perspective
Chaired by: Andrew Allen - Founder - Binary Finery Consulting
The final talk of the day centred on the expectations of buyers from brands in terms of sustainability. The representatives from Selfridges, Planet Organic, and Co-op, despite having diverse target audiences, agreed on several key points. Here are four actionable steps for brands to attract buyers based on the discussion:
“We don’t need brands to have all the answers [...] it’s about all of us getting together and saying well what do you know and what do we know” - Eleanor Pinfield
Our 4 Key Takeaways:
Be authentic: Brands that resonate most with consumers are those that embody authenticity. Make decisions with a clear goal in mind and communicate this vision throughout your branding. Authentic brands stand out by excelling in a specific area, so highlight one aspect where your brand excels and stick with it.
Quantify your sustainability efforts: Buyers want to see tangible evidence of the impact brands are making in their sustainability journey. Provide numerical data that can showcase the difference your brand is making, as this aids buyers in setting their own net zero targets.
Be bold: Emphasise your product's unique qualities through branding and marketing. Additionally, communicate your proud mission and find innovative ways to convey it effectively. Being bold and confident in your brand's strengths will capture attention.
You don't need all the answers: While accreditations like B Corp serve as fantastic signals to consumers, brands do not need to tick every box. Instead, the focus should be on showcasing the progress being made and the steps taken to make a difference. Collaboration and collective problem-solving are vital in effecting meaningful change.
That’s it from us! 5 Following the Footprints team members attended the summit this year, and the inspiration we walked away with was invaluable. Keen to join in next time? Keep your eye on future Bread & Jam events.