Discover more from Following the Footprints
🌱 The Big Food Redesign Challenge, and west~bourne's growing appetite for zero-waste.
Featuring Gipsy Hill, GUNNA, Yeo Valley Organic, Citizens of Soil and more...
This week we cover:
Quick Take: The Big Food Redesign Challenge: Worth getting your teeth into!
Brand Spotlight: west~bourne: Growing an appetite for zero-waste.
In case you missed it: 🤝#3 - Meet the Partners: Zevero, featuring George Wade, Co-Founder and COO.
> Good News Last Week
🎯 The Gipsy Hill Brewing Co has created an offset-free carbon negative beer by using barley grown through regenerative farming from Wildfarmed and hops which have been recaptured and reused. Each pint removes more greenhouse gases from the atmosphere than it produces. The complete carbon lifecycle of the beers has been analysed by Zevero (read on for our interview with them!).
🎯 GUNNA Drinks has packed three of its immune boosting lemonades in a range of aluminium bottles. Instead of a standard 330ml can, GUNNA’s drinks are packaged in 500ml resealable cans made of aluminium, which many claim to be an infinitely recyclable material.
⭐️ Arla Foods announced that they are partnering with Swedish start-up Blue Ocean Closures to create a fibre-based cap for its cardboard milk cartons, reducing Arla’s plastic consumption by more than 500 tonnes annually if implemented.
⭐️ Sainsbury’s UK announced that they have removed plastic trays from their ‘by Sainsbury’s’ steak range, replacing them with a cardboard tray alternative, which potentially will save 249 tonnes of plastic annually. The new trays have been launched across ten products in the range and can be recycled in a kerbside recycling bin.
⭐️ Pot Noodle announced that they are trialling paper pot packaging in Tesco as a way to gain shopper feedback, which will eventually help them move to full Pot Noodle range to paper pots to reduce 4,000 tonnes of virgin plastic each year.
⭐️ Morrisons has partnered with Downforce Technologies to assess the soil carbon and biodiversity tends and calculate new emissions across five pilot farms. This will help them reach its target of becoming the first UK supermarket to be directly supplied by net zero carbon British farms by 2030.
⚡ The European Union has passed the Nature Restoration Law, which will place recovery measures on 20% of the EU’s land and sea by 2030, rising to cover all degraded ecosystems by 2050. The regulation establishes binding targets in seven areas of action with the goal of reversing the environmental damage caused by unchecked human activity and climate change.
> Click on each link to read more.
“A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of.”
Hi there! Katherine here, one of the Following the Footprints team. Tomorrow, Tuesday 18th July, is Mandela Day - a day to celebrate the legacy of Nelson Mandela. On this day South Africans are encouraged to give 67 minutes of their time in service to their community, reminding them of Mandela’s principles. As a South African myself, I wanted to quickly explore how mission-led brands can make this day count on their journey to create a more sustainable world, honouring the global icon, Mandela.
Mandela was a political activist who fought against the South African Apartheid regime, which enforced racial segregation. After serving 27 years in prison for treason, he led discussions to end Apartheid and transition to a nonracial democracy with the president at the time, FW de Klerk. In 1994 Mandela was elected South Africa’s first black president, serving until 1999. In 2009, the first Nelson Mandela Day was observed and later recognised by the United Nations as Nelson Mandela International Day. The 67 minutes on Mandela day represent the 67 years he fought for human rights. Click here if you want to find out more about Mandela’s life.
So, how can Mandela Day inspire mission-led brands?
This year the Nelson Mandela Foundation places emphasis on two global challenges: climate change and food insecurity. Mandela's teachings on unity and inclusivity are particularly relevant to the urgent need for global collaboration and action to address these issues. In fact, the rest of today’s newsletter will explore our food systems in two different ways, a crucial link between climate change and food insecurity.
Mission-led brands can use Mandela Day as a catalyst to launch and contribute to community projects, encouraging action against climate change through events such as beach clean-ups, planting community food gardens or setting up local compost sites. The Mandela Foundation provides more ideas for how brands can spend their 67 minutes here.
The Zulu phrase, 'Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu', reminds us that 'a person is a person through other people'. Mandela Day is an opportunity for businesses to go beyond their core operations and participate in community initiatives that align with their values, contributing to Mandela's vision of a fair, compassionate and sustainable world. How will you spend your 67 minutes this Mandela Day?
> Quick Take
The Big Food Redesign Challenge: Worth getting your teeth into!
The global food system is the principal driver of the biodiversity crisis. Agriculture alone is the key threat to 86% of species currently at risk of extinction, with industrialisation bringing greater use of land, pesticides and fertilisers. While these statistics are frightening, retailers and FMCG businesses have a huge amount of power to reverse this trend. Brands design our food - what it’s composed of, the source of these components. To create a nature-positive system, we need a redesign. The Big Food Redesign Challenge, facilitated by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation and the Sustainable Food Trust, is here to help businesses do exactly that.
What exactly do we need to redesign?
The Big Food Redesign Challenge was itself designed off the back of the Ellen Macarthur Foundation’s 2021 study identifying exactly what’s required for a nature-positive food system. The study found that FMCG brands can drive change through demand for a more diverse portfolio of crops and livestock, with these ingredients produced mindful of their local context. We’ve covered the exciting increase in regenerative practices before (check out Yeo Valley Organic for a great example). However, the study highlights that for systemic change, regenerative practices agriculture needs to sit within a circular business design. This needs to be implemented across product concept, through ingredient selection and sourcing, to packaging.
To leverage individual initiatives into global change, FMCG businesses can take 5 key steps:
Create ambitious and well-resourced action plans to make nature-positive product portfolios a reality
Create a new collaborative dynamic with farmers
Develop iconic products to showcase the potential of circular design for food
Contribute to and use common on-farm metrics and definitions
Advocate for policies that support a nature-positive food system
If this all looks a little abstract, take a peak at this hypothetical case study illustrating how this design could look in a brand in practice.
What does the Redesign Challenge involve?
The Challenge is essentially an accelerator hub providing retailers, FMCG brands (of any size) and producers practical means to achieve the 5 steps listed above. Between June 2023 - May 2025, businesses have the opportunity to learn, design, produce and showcase new products. The pathway is split into three phases:
Phase 1: Once a business has signed up (it’s not too late), they’ll gain access to a raft of resources to help them learn the principles of circular design. After a webinar series, participants can use bespoke platforms to help design and test new ideas. In October, brands can submit five ideas with those meeting the Challenge Criteria progressing to Phase 2. These criteria essentially ensure compliance with the framework above:
The majority of constituent ingredients are sourced from production systems that are indicative of regenerative outcomes for nature
Products fulfil at least one of the other three design opportunities identified in the circular design for food framework (use of lower impact, diverse, and upcycled ingredients)
Packaging is free from materials that are problematic and meets as many circular economy goals as possible.
Phase 2: Commencing in Jan 2024, this is when products are brought to life (and to market). Alongside marketability, products in phase 2 are tested for their accordance with the Global Farm Metric Framework.
Phase 3: Stretching into early 2025, this can be thought of as the launch phase. Successful products will get support with communication strategies and matched with retailers. Equally importantly, Phase 3 celebrates participants’ efforts with awards ceremonies. After all, if having food that has a genuinely positive impact on nature isn’t worth celebrating, we don’t know what is.
Most brands want to do well by nature. Citizens of Soil, The Uncommon and Kib Tea are just some of our favourite examples of businesses already making great steps. A full rethink, however, is a daunting task. The Big Food Redesign Challenge provides extraordinary support to allow forward-thinking businesses to design themselves a sustainable future. With nature-positive food products an inevitable necessity, the Challenge is an opportunity to get ahead of the game. We’ve a sneaking suspicion that they might just end up with tastier products as a result.
Apply to take participate in The Big Food Redesign Challenge here.
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> Brand Spotlight
west~bourne: Growing an appetite for zero-waste.
Continuing along our Plastic-Free July journey (read our take here), we find ourselves in sunny California. Maybe we’re at an Oishii vertical strawberry farm, picking up frozen waste strawberries for a flavour-packed concoction. Or visiting a local regenerative farm planting buckwheat and oats as cover crops, destined for a muffin mix. Maybe we’re keeping it simple - with chef Camilla Marcus in her kitchen, drizzling avocado oil on vanilla ice cream. The link between these moments? west~bourne, the self-described “first and only ‘pantry brand’ committed to sourcing from regenerative farms and using zero-waste packaging”.
A Pantry Pivot
Camilla Marcus founded the pantry provisions brand after a stint as a vegetarian, waste-free restaurateur in Soho, NY. The west-bourne team’s sourcing and packaging innovations are chef-knife-sharp to produce their seasonal products and pantry staples. west~bourne reports they have saved as much plastic waste as 2,527 plastic straws, as much paper waste as 86,133 sticky notes, a total of 19,342 trees, and protected 23,000 acres of forest via their carbon credit investment in the Garcia River Forest Project.
The Proof is in the Packaging
Given the prevalence of plastic packaging in the consumer goods industry, the west~bourne team is committed to “pioneer[ing] the latest innovations in packaging to minimise waste with every component of [their] products”. When you receive an online order it will be sent in a recycled box; it may arrive looking “less than pristine” because of this commitment to re-use. Each bag of granola, best-selling crunch mix, or baking mix is in a 100% backyard-compostable pouch (will break down in 90 -180 days industrially, longer at home) made from sustainably sourced wood cellulose and other bio-based resins. Each preserve arrives in a glass jar with no plastic liner and all labels are fully compostable. The emissions that west~bourne haven’t been able to eliminate from their supply chain they offset to ensure that every order is carbon neutral.
west~bourne is pursuing their zero-waste, regeneratively farmed mission with gusto; they’re encouraging all who listen to not only treat themselves to an elevated staple, but treat that product’s entire ecosystem better too. We’ll happily soak up that sunshine online, or at any of the 100 gourmet grocery stores or 3 grocery chains in the US where west~bourne products are carried!
What to hear more about west~bourne’s sourcing philosophy? Follow up with: