Bread & Jam Festival 2023: Key Takeaways for Scaling Food and Drink Producers

On Tuesday July 18 and Wednesday July 19 2023, the ENSO team attended Bread & Jam Festival hosted at the Business Design Centre in London, UK. This event brought together food and drink producers, thought leaders, and service providers to network, share knowledge, and learn from industry experts. During the event, a number of sustainability initiatives were discussed for scaling food and drink producers.

Throughout the event, we attended talks by industry experts, connected with business owners about their sustainability strategies, and our founder, Donal Quinn, met with entrepreneurs working to establish their point of difference through the POD POD. 

Our key takeaways from the event are highlighted below:

Use Your Mission and Values as Your Guide

When looking to embed sustainability into your business, a great place to start is with your mission statement and your company values. This will allow you to ask yourself why you want to prioritise sustainability and how you can make decisions and build policies around these goals. Drive long-term thinking and planning with a strong mission and values that represent your commitment to sustainability.

Your mission statement and company values should be at the heart of everything you do. Whenever you are making decisions, whether big, high level strategy or daily decisions, always go back to your mission and values. They will help drive your business forward and allow you to proceed with real purpose. 

Ensure that all team members understand your mission and values. Once this is the case, you can always go back to your team as a first port of call for accountability in decision making. If everyone is acting in accordance with your mission and values, you can then be confident that the overall sustainability goals of your business are being advanced. 

Learn About Sustainability and Environmental Impact

As a business, you are constantly making decisions that may impact your overall sustainability goals. It is not always feasible to call in an expert every time to evaluate the environmental impacts of your decisions, especially when time is a key consideration. 

Take some time to learn more about the environment and sustainability. This will help you understand the nuances of the impacts of different decisions and actions. To help you with this, check out the resources and information in some of our other blogs

Communication is Key

Make sure you are communicating about actions and initiatives in which you are directly engaging and investing. If you are doing something, measure it and talk about it! Be as transparent as possible and, where possible, make all of your practices, reports, and policies open source. 

All claims that you make should be backed up by some form of data. For example, if you are talking about a new type of packaging you are using that reduces your overall plastic usage, make sure to include the specifications of previous packaging and the new packaging. This will provide anyone who is reading about your sustainability initiatives with concrete evidence about the actions you are taking. 

When sharing your sustainability information, don’t worry about comparing yourself to other organisations. Currently, it can be difficult to know what baselines other businesses are using, depending on their level of transparency. Focus on your own organisation: back up your claims with data, hold yourself accountable, and be transparent. One way to do this is by sharing your progress and plans to your stakeholders through your own ENSO public webpage. As an example, check out our sustainability page here

Make sure to make measurable, actionable commitments and to upload supporting documents and data wherever possible. 

Scaling your Business

Getting from producing your product in your kitchen to being listed on retailer shelves can often be the biggest challenge for food and drink producers. A potential avenue to test, develop and launch your product to market could be an incubator or accelerator programme run by a leading retailer. This year, Sainsburys, Co-op and Ocado were at Bread & Jam Festival to share their thoughts on how you can scale your business – here’s what they said:

  • Tell YOUR Story: Bringing your personal story to consumers will help you stand out from big brands. Your brand and founder story will help you compete against the large marketing budgets of ‘big brands’.
  • Prioritise Sustainability: Some incubator programmes will only accept producers with sustainability plans in place. Sustainability can help you stand apart from competitors when applying for these programmes. Because retailers are increasingly requiring sustainability plans and data from their supply chain, this will make your business an attractive long-term partner.
  • Getting a Listing is the Easy Part – Keeping it is Tougher! Once you reach the milestone of being listed in a leading retailer, make sure you work with them so they keep you there. ‘Fill out the form’ was a key message here – ensure you are supplying retailers with the necessary paperwork and information for them to keep your product on their shelves. Also, have patience where needed and give buyers and account managers the time to come back to you as they are extremely busy. 

Bread & Jam Festival 2023 brought together innovative and passionate producers, service providers, and industry experts, which provided a fantastic learning opportunity for all in attendance. A key message from retailers was the importance of having a sustainability strategy, taking action, and measuring your impact. At ENSO, we can help your business kickstart your sustainability journey by creating impactful strategies, taking action, and transparently communicating your progress to customers, retailers, and other key stakeholders.