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🌱 Raising a Toast (Ale) to Wildfarmed's Flour Power!
Featuring Toast Ale, Pukka Herbs, Rip Curl, DASH Water and more...
This week we cover:
Quick Take: Flour Power: Wildfarmed are digging into the issue of regenerative agriculture in the UK.
Brand Spotlight: Two reminders from Toast Ale, two years later!
In case you missed it: 🌱 From the ground up: Climate Farmers and Alter Eco reveal two different routes to supporting regenerative agriculture.
First up - we’re growing our team!
Passionate about consumer goods and sustainability? Have a few hours per month?
We launched in February 2021 to support consumer goods brands in the UK on their journey to have a positive impact on our environment. We began out of a frustration at the lack of transparency around how brands were innovating to be more sustainable. Many SMEs are passionate but constrained by their resources, and so they often can’t afford the guidance relied on by larger brands. We fill this gap.
Now, in 2023, we’re creating content, building resources and connecting our community in a way that supports sustainability leads within organisations, and includes their team members too. Join us on this journey!
We’re growing across 6 sub-teams; Research, Growth, Community, Content & Editorial, Platform & Design, Commercial & Partnerships! We’re also looking for all important Core Team members to join us, and welcome you to reach out even if you’re unsure of how or where you can contribute.
> Good News Last Week
🎯 Pukka Herbs announced its partnership with Energy Garden, having signed a two-year agreement to purchase the electricity needed for their headquarters and warehouse straight from Energy Garden’s community solar projects in London. Pukka Herbs will also pay a social premium, on top of their energy costs, which will fund the creation of gardens on railway stations and the running of Energy Garden’s education programmes.
🎯 ODDBOX and Caravan Coffee Roasters announced their partnership to help rescue Caravan’s “past crop” coffee beans, which otherwise would be at risk of going to waste. The ‘Oddbox Rescue Blend Coffee’ will be available for the next two weeks.
🎯 DASH announced that for every pack sold last month in Woolworths Supermarkets in Australia, they donated one meal to OzHarvest - Australia’s leading food rescue organisation.
⭐️ IKEA announced its commitment to move away from fossil-based glues, to bio-based glues instead. Glue accounts for 5% of Ikea’s greenhouse gas emissions.
⭐️ Lidl GB announced it is the first discount supermarket to sign up to WWF’s Retailer’s Commitment for Nature initiative, which aims to halve the environmental impact of the average UK shopping basket by 2030. Lidl is joining Co-op, M&S, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose, resulting in 60% of the UK grocery market working with WWF to reach the target.
⭐️ Just Eat announced their partnership with My Emissions, with the online food delivery platform testing the use of carbon labelling at several restaurants in Brighton for 12 weeks.
⚡️ The Competition and Markets Authority announced proposed new guidance (currently published in draft form) explaining how competition law applies to environmental sustainability agreements between firms operating at the same level of the supply chain. The new guidance will help businesses take action on climate change and environmental sustainability generally, without undue fear of breaching competition rules.
> Click on each link to read more.
> Quick Take
Flour Power: Wildfarmed are digging into the issue of regenerative agriculture in the UK.
‘Regenerative farming’ and ‘soil health’ have become buzzwords in conversations around food sourcing. But what do they actually mean and how are collaborations getting to the root of issues in the food system?
Let’s have a quick recap of the issue at hand:
Globally, >50% of GDP relies on high-functioning biodiversity. Alarmingly, the UK has lost half of its pre-industrial biodiversity and is in the bottom 10% of countries worldwide. It is predicted that 90% of the world’s soil will be significantly degraded by 2050 due to intensive farming of crops like wheat, which is one of the most consumed ingredients in the Western diet. A biodiverse soil helps to mitigate climate change and produce healthier crops. We rely on soil for 95% of food production - therefore, a paradigm shift towards supply chain resilience and climate positive practices (and away from the way that our economy exploits our natural resources) is essential.
New ways of thinking:
Farming methods that favour increased crop yield through resource intensive and degrading practices, including heavy use of pesticides & fertilisers, are no longer the norm. There are a multitude of initiatives harnessing system-thinkings to redefine how we treat our soils. Let’s dig into a couple below:
Integrated farming and crop management combines modern technology with traditional methods to protect valuable resources.
Biodynamic farming follows a planting calendar influenced by the sun and gravitational pull of the moon to encourage active root growth or leaf growth depending on the cycle.
In South Korea, Jadam is a growing organic movement following the principles of simple, easy, scientific and effective methods such as homemade natural pesticides.
Regenerative farming aims to build resilience through four principles: to minimise artificial fertilisers & chemical use; minimise soil disturbance; increase crop diversity; and keep living roots within the ground as much as possible.
What we do know is that a diversity of solutions gives us the best chance of achieving the most effective and holistic outcomes.
So, what approach do Wildfarmed take?
With a long list of supporters and customers, Wildfarmed are championing a regenerative farming system via their mission to replace monoculture cereal/grain production with thriving farm ecosystems. How do they plan to do this? By creating a market that rewards farmers for quality over quantity, and building a community of supporters-come-activists who advocate for systems-change.
Started on their 100 hectare farm in the South of France (which has its own mill and bakery), Wildfarmed initially focused on shaking up the food industry in the UK by selling to foodservice and hospitality including restaurants, bakeries, breweries, distillers and noodle shops. Now, Wildfarmed boasts a growing community of stockists who in turn are shouting about their use of Wildfarmed grain - giving consumers the opportunity to reconnect with their food supply chain and choose their plant-friendly products. As an example, their partnership with M&S to launch a range of regenerative bread loaves supports their mission to kickstart widespread soil regeneration on arable land across the UK.
How are they having an impact?
Realising that collaboration is key, Wildfarmed isn’t a brand of flour themselves, but a system which equips farmers to sell at commercial scale, collectively. They support their community of farmers via a community to share successes, challenges and knowledge, alongside machinery they can use and most importantly a farm-to-gate price that makes it viable for farmers to fund the changes they’re making. There is one key requirement to be Wildfarmed approved - the grain must be grown without any chemical inputs at all. As a result, the Wildfarmed stamp of approval is one indicator that the farm you’re sourcing from values a biodiverse and balanced farming system, farming with nature not against it by adopting practices that nurture soil biology.
Today, the company is supporting over 42 farmers and growers on their individual journeys to grow more regeneratively. They’re not stopping there. Wildfarmed hopes that they can mobilise enough farmers, bakers, retailers and chefs to have a significant impact on how the wheat we consume in the UK is grown and how accessible that higher quality wheat is to everyone. With a transformative solution to a currently failing system, let’s wait and see whether the flour really does have the power. In the meantime, if your brand sources flour, check out how to join the movement and make the switch.
> Brand Spotlight
Two reminders from Toast Ale, two years later!
Toast Ale was founded in 2015 with the mission to create great quality beer, use surplus food otherwise destined to waste, and start conversations and change perceptions all whilst driving change through collaborative action. Their theory of change? If all UK beer was produced with just 10% surplus bread, we’d halve the 20 million slices of bread wasted daily. To prove their point - they’ve saved 2,622,291 slices of surplus bread since 2016. The impact of this reaches far beyond the bar - reducing food waste would reduce pressure on agricultural land, reduce freshwater use, and reduce those dreaded GHG emissions too. So, as a result, Toast Ale has also reclaimed 211,213 metres squared of land, saved over 309,701 litres of water and avoided 49 tonnes of emissions.
The social enterprise and certified B Corp is such a brilliant case study to learn from, this isn’t our first time featuring them…two years ago we took a look at Toast Ale and the power of their collaborations (in fact, they were the fifth brand we ever featured!).
So, what has happened since in the bread-saving, beer-brewing world since, and what other brands learn and apply themselves too?
Toast Ale have been busy - connecting with over 1900 other UK businesses to lobby for the Better Business Act, whilst also building on partnerships with Soil Heroes to regeneratively farm over 15 hectares of farmland, and the Rainforest Trust to protect over 3 million trees in endangered rainforests. This is just some of what you’ll find in their most recent Impact Report. Only last week they released their newest and biggest collaboration to date. Together with Change Please, a social enterprise on a mission to end homelessness, they are launching the Good Company Taproom. You can support by signing up for the launch night event on March 28th here (see you there!).
There are two fundamental lessons that all businesses can learn from Toast Ale:
Be clear on your impact and mission.
Many purpose driven companies are pretty clear on their mission from day one. However, with so many issues for companies to address, communicating where real, tangible impact can be made can get lost. Toast Ale’s clear link and focus on food waste makes their commitment even more impactful. It also allows them to focus on other missions to support, without losing clarity on their purpose to their consumers. Start with one, really own it, and then acknowledge that it’s likely connected to other issues and mission-critical causes. Other companies that do this really well include Seasalt who focus on the protection of cornish waters, and Citizens of Soil who champion supply chain transparency and supporting female farmers.
Work with your competition, not against them.
Sustainability is a unique element of business. Everyone (hopefully) wants the same thing: a fair, equitable and healthy world. So, working within industries and alongside competitors to lobby change is key. Toast Ale have partnered with the likes of Brewdog, Stroud Brewery, Camerons and even Guinness to fundamentally shift the brewing system. Another example of this in practice is the open letter ‘Canifesto’, created by The Uncommon, Moth Drinks, Longbottom & Co, Jukes Cordialities and Trip.
With the rate of progress they’re making, who knows where Toast Ale will be in another two years time? One thing is for certain - we can’t wait to find out, and in the meantime, you’ll find us at their Good Company Taproom…