With so much focus on eco-friendly goods over the past few years, it’s no surprise the interest in eco-friendly foods is on the rise in supermarkets too. In fact, Ocado recently saw a 93% rise in the search term ‘eco-friendly food’ on their website.
Pioneers of eco-friendly foods and products
Image source: The Grocer
As an online grocer, Ocado are already pioneers in their approach to offering consumers a more sustainable way to do their weekly shop due to their warehouse based business model, closely managed stock (for less waste levels), receipts printed on recyclable paper and biodegradable bags to name a few.
They also schedule green deliveries (where customers can opt for their delivery from vans already scheduled in their area so Ocado can fill vans to capacity and make each journey worthwhile) and they are trialling electric vans. When it comes to eco-friendly foods, Ocado is committed to sustainable and ethical sourcing, with proportionately more organic and Fairtrade lines than any other online supermarket. In fact, 66% of Ocado customers include at least one Fairtrade item in their basket on any given shop.
Image source: Ocado
Ocado has also led the way on consumer demand for eco-friendly packaging by introducing a new feature that gives customers the option to browse for products with packaging that is recyclable or low in plastic.
These new categories are called Reduce and Recycle, Low Plastic and Recyclable. All these categories have over 850 products and in a recent tweet, they highlighted one of these categories by saying: ‘We do have a dedicated aisle for items named Reduce and Recycle. If you search this, there are 975 items so far and we are adding to this list, these items have low plastic or easily recyclable packaging.’
Food for thought especially as more supermarkets are now actively taking an interest in eco-friendly foods. Many are focusing on sourcing a variety of choice for consumers in terms of ingredients, suppliers, packaging and general brand ethos.
Over at Asda, their sustainability team proudly announced last year they were the first of the major supermarkets to provide plans of their commitment to reducing its plastic use, including removing single-use coffee cups, straws and plastic cutlery from cafés and phasing out single-use carrier bags.
Sustainable palm oil
You may have noticed the furore over the use of palm oil and its destructive impact on the world’s rainforests in recent years, particularly due to the plight of Orangutans whose natural habitat is being destroyed.
Asda took note and led the way in 2014 by ensuring all its own brand products are sourced to Roundtable standards on Sustainable Palm Oil.
Other supermarkets, such as Sainsbury’s, Aldi and Lidl have followed suit with Aldi issuing a statement saying:
‘Aldi is a responsible retailer and is committed to sustainable sourcing. We are also reviewing every product in our own label range which contains palm oil with a view to finding alternative or sustainable sources.’
Eco-friendly food choices
Image source: Core Purpose
Wherever you shop, you’ll notice an abundance of eco-friendly food choices, from Fairtrade products to sustainable foods such as meat and fish.
Tesco’s environmental sustainability strategy is called the Little Helps Plan, which aims to reduce unnecessary packaging and food waste whilst making sourcing products more sustainable. For example, when it comes to eco-friendly foods, they now use Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa in all of their own-brand chocolate products.
Sainsbury’s is also to be commended for its commitment to improving environmental sustainability, with a particular nod to their accolade as the Best Sustainable Seafood Supermarket in the world in 2017 by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). Although their sustainable fish crown was then taken by Aldi, who the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) heralded as the best supermarket for sustainable fish in 2018 as roughly 80% of the fish they sell is certified as being sustainable.
With regards to fruit and veg, consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of the importance of buying seasonal produce that has been grown in the UK. This benefits our farmers too, with The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) creating a Fruit and Vegetable Pledge designed to strengthen relationships between food retailers and British farmers. Yet, only Tesco, Aldi, Co-op and Lidl have signed up so there is still some way to go.
Hisbe… leading the way on eco-friendly food
Yes, the big supermarkets are making strides when it comes to stocking eco-friendly products and eco-friendly foods but let’s not forget small, independent chains who led the way on plastic and food waste, and stocking eco-friendly foods, long before it became fashionable to do so.
Brighton based Hisbe can proudly call itself one of Britain’s most environmentally friendly supermarkets. Founded in 2013 by Jack Simmonds and siblings Amy and Ruth Anslow, the trio set up the company through a crowdsourcing campaign. Their focus is on offering food and products from local suppliers who share their eco-friendly and sustainability stance and who largely supply organic goods.
The majority of their food and veg is sold loose to cut down on plastics and in the dry goods sections, consumers will find refill stations for rice, pasta and grains. In fact, this way of purchasing these foods has proved so popular that it has completely replaced packaged alternatives. Co-owner Jack says:
‘I run a more ethical version of a Tesco Express. We are not a health shop, just trying to offer good quality, locally sourced food without excess packaging.’
Their methods are so popular and motivational that last year, M&S sought their advice on how to reduce its waste and plastic packaging. Hisbe also has plans to take on rival giants in the supermarket world and roll out stores across the country so, keep a look out… there may be a Hisbe store coming your way soon!
Here at Eat Marketing, we’re so excited about the rise in popularity of eco-friendly foods and that more and more brands and businesses are seeing the importance of sustainability, especially when it comes to communicating this ethos to the consumer.
If you’re a brand or business keen to promote your own ethos, get in touch, we’d love to help.