Do B-Corps have a natural home in the fine food industry?

06 April 2022, 08:49 AM
  • B-Corp certifications are flooding the fine food and drink sector, with small artisan brands focusing on having a positive social and environmental impact
Do B-Corps have a natural home in the fine food industry?

Why are more B-Corps than ever entering fine food?
Urvashi Agarwal, founder of newly certified tea brand JP’s Originals believes there is a natural affiliation between B-Corps and the fine food industry, explaining: “Consumers have become more conscious of what they consume. Fine food businesses are aware that consumers are looking for more than just a great product and now more than ever the shelves are busy with every product imaginable. 

“But how can one set them apart? To date, it has been easy for businesses to make claims on their ethics or sustainability. B Corp is a recognisable way for both consumers to spot which businesses are there doing far more than delivering fine food, as well as keep businesses on their toes to do more for their stakeholders.”

Jason Gibb, founder of the Future Summit (22nd April 2022) agreed: “I’ve seen an explosion in the number of brands in the fine food sector applying to be B-Corp, so much so that there is now a 16-month processing time because of the backlog. I think that this is because a critical mass has been met and there’s suddenly much more awareness from retailers, brands, employees and consumers of B-Corp and what it is. There were some high-profile early adopters of B-Corp in the speciality food world, like Cotswold Fayre, and this created a halo effect in this sector encouraging others to take the step. And of course, people think more deeply about food and drink and there is much more dialogue about what we put into our bodies.

Tim Etherington-Judge, co-founder of B-Corp Avallen identified a different reason for the influx of B-Corp certifications within fine food and drink: “I don’t believe there is a natural affiliation between the two. B Corp is about using business as a force for good in the world, and fine food and drink has always been about celebrating good times. I think that the reason that we’re seeing a lot of fine food and drinks brands get the certification at the moment is that they’re often small founder-led operations, and the founders, like us at Avallen, are very keen to use our business to do good in the world.”

The rise of conscious consumerism
Considering the huge boom in conscious consumerism, B-Corp certification is becoming more and more desirable to brands and this is, in turn, beneficial to indie retailers. 

Jason outlined the opportunity B-Corp presents to the fine food industry: “Conscious consumers are worth $446 billion to the FMCG industry according to Kantar, and 67% of consumers are more likely to buy from brands reducing their carbon footprint, so the opportunity for eco-conscious brands is huge.”

Tim echoed these thoughts, “You don’t need to spend more than a few seconds reading the news to realise that the world needs more good, better ethics, and extremely urgent action on climate change and biodiversity loss. I firmly believe that most people want to use their money for good, so are looking for brands that give them comfort that in purchasing they make the world a slightly better place.” 

How to capitalise on the influx of B-Corps
One way that indie retailers can champion their B-Corp brands is by highlighting them within their stores with dedicated sections of shelves.

Jason explained: “Major retailers Boots and Ocado both have B-Corp sections online and Waitrose and Holland & Barrett had instore activations around B-Corp this month (BCorp month). Speciality retailers should be doing the same – something like a B-Corp shelf or two.

“The beauty of B-Corp is that it is fairly broad in its remit, and therefore covers a multitude of sins so to speak. It’s not just saying you are organic or plastic-free or carbon neutral – in fact it’s not saying you are any of these, but it’s saying you are striving to be good in all these areas. And in a world where we have lots of competing eco-labels which can all seem a bit overwhelming, B-Corp is a great catch-all stamp of approval.”

Urvashi agreed with this idea of dedicated B-Corp areas: “There has already been an interesting shift with some fine food retailers dedicating entire sections of their store to B Corp brands, promoting their conscious curation to their customers. 

“We exhibited at the Natural Food Show and we found that buyers were thrilled by our certification as it aligned with their own and their customer’s values. On the other hand, some retailers are concerned this will draw attention to the fact that they are not B Corp certified themselves so as a result, they are not championing these wonderful brands.”

It is clear that a social and environmental movement is currently unfolding within the fine food sector, and speciality retailers are in a prime position to take advantage of this.

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