With the help of popular celebrity chef's, Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Britain's general public have become increasingly aware over recent years, of the unnecessary waste present in the UK's fresh fruit and vegetable supply chain.
Towards the end of 2015 after watching BBC's 'War On Waste', we decided to do something in support of British Farmers and work towards a sustainable solution to eradicate the waste problem, or at least make an ambitious dent.
In little under two weeks, we had begun creating 'The Imperfectionists', a brand aimed at altering the perception of so called 'wonky veg'. We felt that not enough had been done to champion the re-introduction of poorly categorised fresh farmed produce into the food and beverage supply chain, thus having a catastrophic effect on Britain’s farming industry and farmer livelihood's.
We had successfully won over one of Britain's leading fruit and veg suppliers, who immediately began working on the project and helped us devise the best possible strategy to obtain the produce "out-graded" by leading supermarkets, whilst ensuring farmers all over the country benefitted directly from our efforts. Due to industry standards, set by our ‘trusty’ food retailers, the current vegetable picking and sorting infrastructure doesn't yet allow 'wonky veg' to reach the production line, so it was clear our first efforts were going to be costly.
At the beginning of 2016, we were ready to take our product to market, labelled as 'the imperfectionists', with the strap line "Supporting Imperfectly Perfect British Farm Produce". We had finalised packaging designs, identified farmers, confirmed transport and created a full brand story with an educational plan generated for schools and other educational bodies. We even achieved support from LEAF, (a leading organisation promoting sustainable agriculture, food & farming) with a percentage of sale from each product, donated to LEAF in support of their national farming initiatives.
We approached several leading supermarkets and was successful every time in getting through the doors and into the pitching room. Sadly, it was here our efforts over the previous months had become void. Two of the leading supermarkets had liked our idea so much they decided to 'Half-Heartedly' do it themselves and in the process 'creatively' draw inspiration from our entire strategy, branding and marketing plans we had shared with them. Why? To tick a box in the media? To maintain control over their supply chain, so they could continue to dictate prices and drive margin? Who knows?
Our brand was set to be the first of it's kind for the UK, instead our plans were thwarted by the very retailers we had trusted to support us. Stripped of our ability to launch by their market dominating presence, we were unexpectedly defeated. In a sense, failing before we even had a chance to embark on our mission to support the agricultural community as well as helping farmers make significant headway in achieving a fairer price for their yield.
After the initial shock and feeling that we had been totally ripped off, we decided not to give up and further more not to allow these corporate giants to have yet another victory, over a small business whose sole purpose is to create a better future for our nations farming industry and help put a stop to food waste which is undisputedly unnecessary. In essence an initiative for the greater good.
In 2017 we aim to officially launch 'the imperfectionists' to market, but need your help to do so. With Brexit looming, inevitably delivering an adverse result for British agriculture, thus consequently presenting further challenges on the horizon for the men and women producing our food, there really is no better time than now.
When researching towards the latter of 2015, we worked tirelessly to identify which vegetable products were most affected by stringent physical appearance criteria. Our debut range consists of Potatoes, Carrots, Onions & Parsnips, with further introductions and new lines including fruit to be added along the way.
We need help with funding to begin making a real difference for our fellow farmers, here's where your donations will go:
- Initial support for farmers who struggle to sell 'out-graded' produce
- Subsidise the costs incurred by some farmers who have been affected by the criteria set by leading supermarkets
- The production of eco-friendly & recyclable packaging
- An online presence with potential e-commerce capabilities
- National marketing support
- Educational outreach and resources
- Research & Development into other food groups which encounter unacceptably large volumes of waste