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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Responsible retail

The food industry is changing rapidly. So too are the priorities of retailers who are evolving and innovating in line with growing consumer expectations around sustainability. Here, Julia Kirby-Smith introduces her business, Fridge of Plenty, which sits at the forefront of shifting trends in food supply.

Tell us about your business.

Fridge of Plenty is our imagining of a modern grocery shop. It’s an urban farm shop and grocery delivery business based in Crouch End, North London. We sell organic produce, artisan foods, cheese, beer, and wine, all sourced as locally as possible and largely bought direct from producers.

How did you come up with the idea?

My family and I spent a chunk of time in the countryside last summer and really enjoyed discovering fresh local produce from local farms. It seemed a shame that we didn’t have access to the same kind of local produce in London. Food production has a huge environmental impact, so if we are going to do better for the planet and our children, we need to take responsibility for what we eat (and how it’s produced). So Fridge of Plenty was born out of a need to source food locally and sustainably.

What does sustainability mean to you?

We strive for low food miles, minimal plastic, fair pay and sustainability in everything we do. We source organic produce wherever possible because it’s better for the soil (no synthetic fertilisers), insects (minimal pesticides), animals (fewer antibiotics, better welfare) and humans. We want all the food we sell to be sustainable, nutritious and delicious.
We only stock sustainably-caught fish and low-intensity, high-welfare meat – and all of our meat is organically-reared if not certified (usually because the butcher is not organic). Much of our fresh produce is harvested to order to help minimise food waste, and we run the shop on 100 percent green electricity. We also create a few products in-house in order to combat food waste. We make soup from any sad vegetables, and we turn leftover bread into sourdough crackers. We are constantly looking for ways to improve.

Has the business implemented any further initiatives that reflect this philosophy?

We run Fridge of Plenty on profit-for-purpose principles. We have a triple lock written into our company constitution, which requires all decisions to balance profit with people and planet. We have a pay ratio policy, we innovate to minimise food waste, and we donate all unsold food to local people in need.

What are some challenges you faced during (and coming out of) lockdown, and how did you overcome them?

Now that people can eat out again we’re seeing different buying patterns, and more in-store shopping versus home delivery. We’ve had to stay agile and keep a close eye on stock levels. We’ve also changed some of our lines to suit customers who now want more food-to-go rather than things they can cook at home.

What’s on the horizon for Fridge of Plenty?

We’d like to keep growing and perhaps open another shop, as well as continuing to build the online side of the business. We’re going to launch a range of hampers for Christmas which we will ship using a sustainable delivery service. So our customers within the UK can discover sustainable, artisan, British-made produce. We’re also starting to run events, such as cheese and wine tasting nights in the shop. This is all part of our mission to celebrate local food producers and to help people learn about how their food is made.

Interview by Advanced.com



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