Starting in 1992 as an organic delivery service founded by Phil Haughton (pictured above), Better Food now has three shops across Bristol – in St Werburgh’s, Clifton and Wapping Wharf – and this year celebrating a quarter-century of growing and selling organic produce.
Loved by many for their deli treats, fresh produce and hard-to-find ingredients, Better Food has become a key component in Bristol’s arsenal of health food providers.
Marketing manager Lucy Gatward discusses the Better Food journey, along with their celebration plans and ideas for the future.
Firstly, congratulations on reaching 25 years! How will you be celebrating?
Since there’s already a buzz around the Organic September campaign, we decided to spread all our celebrations across the month. One of the key things we are doing is focusing on innovators. We’re inviting as many organic innovators as possible to the store to share their interesting stories on production along with some tasting sessions, as well as showcasing products made by members of staff, with tasting sessions running from now until December.
At the end of the month, we will be hosting our very own community feast to raise money for the Streets to Kitchen campaign in aid of the Square Food Foundation and St Mungo’s. This will be a three-course candle lit supper, with talks from both charities and a charity auction. Ultimately, we decided that the best way to celebrate is with a forward-looking movement, with a focus on moving into the 21st century!
Looking back over the past 25 years, what do you think has been Better Food’s biggest achievement?
The amount of businesses we’ve been able to support over 25 years, all the growers, producers and makers. Being around for so long gives suppliers market confidence and a secure route to market, giving them the opportunity to experiment and branch out with their ideas. Now the organic market is more secure, people have started to take risks, which is great.
Have you faced any unexpected changes or challenges along the way?
National food scandals, such as the horse meat controversy, has exposed the ills of mass production. The organic industry is stringent and assures the best standard, and we as a business are confident about where our produce is from. This was an unexpected benefit not only for us but for everybody.
The retail market in general has gone through a hammering so that in turn has affected the business. It has proved a challenge finding ways to express to people what the real cost of food is, because food produced well is more expensive. This is sometimes difficult to convey and an uncomfortable truth, but we continue to do our best to balance high standards with affordable pricing.
What’s your favourite aspect about the company?
I would say it’s the difference we strive to make. Our existence is pragmatic; we try to fit together two ends of the supply and demand issue with a practical solution to a big problem. My favourite aspect is the stories we get to share. We are the conduit, and we are lucky to work with so many interesting people. Essentially, we hope to be useful in driving a market that is not only important but practical too.
What does the future hold for Better Food?
We would like to continue growing, but slowly and only in a way that is sustainable. We would like to be at the forefront of pioneering the waste problem, along with food security and reduced packaging. We hope to continue supporting as many people as we can, and hope to inspire them to do things a bit differently!
The Better Food community feast takes place on September 30 2017. For more information and to buy tickets, visit www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/community-feast-and-fundraiser-tickets-37270719726
Read more: Better Food opens in Wapping Wharf