Signs of Optimism Across the Trade
Here in the UK there is a real sense of momentum across the trade as the lockdown restrictions ease. It’s fantastic to see Foodservice opening up again and this demand is coming through to manufacturers in lumpy order patterns as the channel cautiously restocks with food and drink. It’s been interesting to see the new service models that are emerging in cafes, hotels and restaurants and how different operators are balancing retaining the atmosphere and enjoyment of eating out with sticking to the COVID rules.
Sunnier days & a new recruit
The upturn in the weather is doing its part to add to the sense of optimism and here in the team we have another reason to be grateful – a new recruit. Emma Stallworthy has joined us as a Sustainability Researcher. Emma has a first in Anthropology and a Masters in Sustainability from Exeter and a solid track record in conservation. She’ll help us meet the increasing demand from clients for help with developing strategy, evolving brands and moving products into a more sustainable and regenerative space and avoiding ‘greenwashing’. You can read about what makes Emma tick in her Q&A.
Here at HRA we are in the final throes of our BCORP certification and Emma is helping us ‘walk the talk’. We’ve made a series of changes to how we run the office, monitoring our energy and transport use down and started creating our own compost from coffee grounds…of which there are a lot! Working on the principle that ‘what gets measured, gets done’, each month we publish an impact report on the HRA Global website with all of our environmental impact metrics and measures so as to be fully transparent to all our stakeholders.We’re thinking through how we change our business further in this direction over the summer.
A new era for beauty
The beauty category is in the throes of huge change. The rise of veganism has thrown up huge challenges to the existing business model of ‘big beauty’. There are a raft of smaller startups emerging, all with clear purposes and points of difference around organic, animal cruelty and botanical inclusions. This is forcing the larger players to pay attention and change up their business models. We put together a 3 minute video on everything you need to know about these changes in the beauty category here.
Futures for Food with the University of Portsmouth
It was a real honour to be asked to chair the University of Portsmouth ‘Futures for Food’ online conference in collaboration with FoodCiTi. We can all feel in our bones that the culture of food is changing rapidly at the moment and the main session focused on the challenges and opportunities posed by topics as diverse as the Australian Free Trade Agreement, Brexit, climate change, Fair Trade and the drive to more local supply chains. The University of Portsmouth is carving out an increasingly international reputation as a a thought leader in food policy and it’s a lot of fun being part of the journey, we interviewed Professor Lisa Jack from the university in the last season of The FMCG Insider. Listen to her thoughts on food fraud here.
Psychadelics and Onnit
And lastly, I was thinking through the consequences and implications of Unilever’s acquisition of edgy American brand Onnit. There has been increasing academic studies into the use of psychedelics and plant medicine in treatments for PTSD, depression as well as their beneficial effects on ‘healthy normals’. So, are we going to see a greater interest across health and beauty as well as food and drink in plant medicines? In that context, Unilever may just have pulled off a real coup with Onnit. Read my take on the acquisition here.
Enjoy the summer and see you next month!