FoodChain Issue 167 November 2020

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FoodChain ISSUE 167

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NOV 2020

Incorporating

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Zest of the best Having made their dream of opening an organic juice bar a reality, the founders of Clean Juice took the business to the next level and beyond through the franchise model

Industry News NestlĂŠ has revealed the line up of Starbucks Holiday Coffees and Favorites products, available at home l

Assess your impact Assembling the Industry 4.0 puzzle in food and beverage manufacturing

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Alto-Shaam plans to release its original Cook & Hold Ovens with a new design and advanced user-friendly controls

Now trending The food supply chain showed remarkable resilience in the face of Covid-19



FoodChain ISSUE 167 l NOV 2020

Incorporating

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Editor’s Welcome

Zest of best

the

Having made their dream of opening an organic juice bar a reality, the founders of Clean Juice took the business to the next level and beyond through the franchise model

Industry News Assess your impact Assembling the Industry 4.0 puzzle in food and beverage manufacturing

l Nestlé has revealed the line up of Starbucks Holiday Coffees and Favorites products, available at home l

Alto-Shaam plans to release its original Cook & Hold Ovens with a new design and advanced user-friendly controls

Now trending The food supply chain showed remarkable resilience in the face of Covid-19

Chairman Andrew Schofield

Adapting to the situation

Managing Director Joe Woolsgrove Editor - Libbie Hammond libbie@schofieldpublishing.com Assistant Editor - Will Daynes Staff Writer - Alex McDonald Art Editor/Production Manager - Fleur Daniels Art Editor - David Howard Advertising Designer - Rebecca Side Sales Director Alasdair Gamble Operations Director Philip Monument Operations Manager Natalie Griffiths Research Managers Rachel Harper, Jo-Ann Jeffery Ben Richell, Kieran Shukri Editorial Researchers Adam Blanch, Mark Cowles Jeff Goldenberg, Mark Kafourous Tarjinder Kaur-D’Silva, James Page Wendy Russell, Richard Saunders Advertising Sales Johanna Bailey, Mark Cawston Alex Hartley, Dave King Theresa McDonald, Ibby Mundhir Web Sales web@schofieldpublishing.com Subscriptions i.kidd@schofieldpublishing.com

© 2020 Schofield Publishing Ltd

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ello to all the readers of FoodChain and welcome to the November issue. I hope you’re not too hungry as looking through the pages of this issue certainly made me rather peckish! We’ve got some fascinating profiles this month and the standard of their photography has been phenomenal – I feel very fortunate to be able to share not just their stories of success but also illustrate how delicious and attractive their product offerings are. Every time I look through the magazine I change my mind on which I would want to try first. There is still plenty of optimism around in the companies we are speaking to and a willingness to adapt to the situation at hand – creating more takeaway and delivery options and even developing hand sanitizer are featured in our profiles. The market has made some serious changes and in our feature on page 8, Are Traasdahl explains why many of these modifications will be long lasting, if not permanent. We are back in lockdown in the UK as I write this Editor’s page, which isn’t easy for anyone. But I was lucky enough to sample Russell & Atwell’s fresh chocolates for our Taste Test, and two other team members were very impressed with the Strangeways CBD infused gin that we were kindly sent, so we have been able to experience a small treat or two. I hope you’ve been doing the same.

Schofield Publishing - Corporate Head Office Cringleford Business Centre, 10 Intwood Road, Cringleford, Norwich, NR4 6AU, U.K.

T: (312) 854-0123 T: +44 (0)1603 274130 www.foodchainmagazine.com Follow us at:

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Please note: The opinions expressed by contributors and advertisers within this publication do not necessarily coincide with those of the editor and publisher. Every reasonable effort is made to ensure that the information published is accurate, and correct at time of writing, but no legal responsibility for loss occasioned by the use of such information can be accepted by the publisher. All rights reserved. The contents of the magazine are strictly copyright, the property of Schofield Publishing, and may not be copied, stored in a retrieval system, or reproduced without the prior written permission of the publisher.

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Contents Features & Profiles Industry 4.0

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The next stage

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According to Jason Chester of InfinityQS, Industry 4.0 is not actually an objective, but an evolutionary outcome

Supply chain

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Now trending Are Traasdahl gives some examples of recent food supply chain trends that should stick beyond the pandemic

Taste Test & News

Industry 4.0 12

Up-to-date products and announcements from the food and beverage sector

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Bubbakoo’s Burritos Beverages

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Assess your impact

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Drinks businesses must look at their environmental footprint and design their full supply chain carefully says Carlo Hein

Skills

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Bridging the gap FoodChain’s Will Daynes talks to Louise Cairns, CEO of

Gosh! Food Ltd

The National Skills Academy for Food & Drink

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Wenzel’s The Bakers 2 www.foodchainmagazine.com

Terrapin Beer


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Supply Chain

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Ole Smoky Distillery

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Clean Juice

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R&R BBQ

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Wholly Wholesome

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Coca-Cola HBC Hungary

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Hickory’s Smokehouse

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The next stage

Food and beverage manufacturing: Assembling the Industry 4.0 puzzle. By Jason Chester 4 www.foodchainmagazine.com

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ith so much noise around Industry 4.0, a day no longer goes by where you don’t skim over a headline covering this topic and as a result, more people are becoming exhausted, fatigued and detached from the idea. Yet

Jason Chester

the funny thing is, many of those working in the food and beverage manufacturing sector who bemoan such sentiments are often unwittingly embracing it. Fundamentally, the issue is not specifically about Industry 4.0, but rather about how we frame the discussion.


Industry 4.0

If you have attempted to search for the dragon that is an ‘Industry 4.0 solution’ but failed to find it then you are right to be weary - as just like a dragon, Industry 4.0 is a mythical beast that does not exist. If you have spent many hours and even more money plumbing in Industrial Internet of Things

(IIoT), sensors across conversion and packaging processes to now find yourself drowning in useless data with no discernible benefit, then you have a right to be tired. Even if you have been at the bleeding edge and invested in AI (Artificial Intelligence) or Machine Learning (ML)

solutions only to find that they are actually not really that smart – then you have a right to feel disillusioned. However, it should be said that this is not what Industry 4.0 really is.

What is Industry 4.0? Industry 4.0 is a delineator of evolution.

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We like to describe evolutionary timelines with delineators that describe different epochs, regardless of whether we are describing the evolution of the earth, the human race or industry. Therefore, Industry 4.0 is not an objective, but an evolutionary outcome. As new technologies, tools and techniques emerge and change how manufacturing is performed, industries evolve just as they have done several times over the last several hundred years.

Industry 4.0 in food and beverage manufacturing In food and beverage manufacturing, it is no different than previous evolutionary upheavals in technological progress (such as with the widespread adoption of industrial automation). So, let’s not get too hung up on a delineator of evolution and concentrate on the business needs that many food and beverage manufacturers are facing today and how they can address them effectively.

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The markets that food and beverage manufacturers serve also continue to evolve in terms of attitudes, trends, needs, priorities, income and demand, as well as the environments that they operate in (regulation, online commerce, global competition, distribution, supply chains, etc.) and internally within their own organizations (ethics, responsibilities, workforce, strategy, innovation, etc.). These arrows of evolutionary time tend to always point towards the need for increasing efficiency, productivity and quality, while at the same time lowering costs, production latency and risk.

Digital transformation and the journey to data maturity Now let’s take a deeper look into a fairly common scenario at a standard food manufacturer: Due to the increasingly tough market in which it is operating, with more

competition and an increasingly fickle customer base, a manufacturer decides to embark on a shop floor modernization project. The principle driver is the need to cut operational costs so it can save money, enhance productivity and yield and reduce waste. This will enable it to be more price competitive in the market while still retaining healthy margins. Due to volatility in demand, the manufacturer will need to increase its operational flexibility, provide a wider selection of product variants and move to shorter volume production runs. Finally, it must also improve the quality and consistency of its product to ensure that consumers continue to choose it over their competitors in the long-term. And of course, ensure that it does not find itself on the wrong side of health, safety and consumer protection regulations. Although these types of business challenges have always been present across the manufacturing sector, the need for greater improvement is


Industry 4.0 becoming more urgent. Like many, the company has reached a proverbial ‘glass ceiling’ where further improvements and gains are becoming harder to achieve, with diminishing returns. Fortunately, it now has a higher proportion of techsavvy millennials working on the shop floor, so it decides to move away from traditional, mostly manual processes and embark on an organization-wide digital transformation project. After an intensive discovery phase, it has a much clearer understanding of the end-to-end manufacturing and packaging processes. It also understands all of the causal elements that have a direct impact on, or indirectly influence the primary objectives, including what is critical to quality, cost and productivity. The manufacturer embarks on a project to digitally monitor and capture data from all of these sources. This includes capturing data from existing PLC devices, installing new measurement devices and IIoT sensors, upgrading lab equipment and even providing the means for operators to digitally record information from manually performed inspections. In order to ensure the data from these wide-ranging sources can flow freely and reliably, it decides to upgrade its networks to include modern 5G

networking capabilities and provides all operators with handheld devices such as tablets. These efforts would be fruitless without the means to turn that data in to real-time actionable intelligence and make it available to a wide range of users, including everyone from line side operators to senior supply-chain executives. The company deploys an Enterprise Quality Intelligence solution, but it does not want the burden of installing, maintaining and constantly upgrading yet another complex enterprise application. Instead, it decides to subscribe to a Software-as-a-Service that takes all of that burden away from IT teams.

A successful industry 4.0 initiative On project completion, it soon recognizes the significant gains that have been realized due to the fact that everyone now has real-time access to reliable and actionable intelligence and the business objectives have been achieved. While this may be a generalized and fictitious story, it is not dissimilar to scenarios that we are engaged with on a daily basis for our food and beverage manufacturing clients. This manufacturer has moved itself

towards a digital manufacturing future where data, information, intelligence and workflow solutions have become the central focus of its manufacturing operations and it has put the most important pieces of the puzzle together. Did the manufacturer brand this an Industry 4.0 project? No. Was it an Industry 4.0 project? Yes. Whether they admit it or not, they have moved themselves much further along the Industry 4.0 evolutionary timeline. D Jason Chester is Director of Global Channel Programs, InfinityQS. For over 30 years, InfinityQS has been the leading global provider of Manufacturing Quality Intelligence software and services. Powered by a robust Statistical Process Control (SPC) analytics engine, the company’s solutions - Enact® and ProFicient™ - deliver unparalleled visibility and strategic insight across the enterprise, from the shop floor to the boardroom. This extensive deep-dive capability enables manufacturers to improve product quality; decrease cost and risk; improve compliance; and make strategic, data-driven business decisions. www.infinityqs.com

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Now trending

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Supply Chain

Pandemic food supply shifts that should stick. By Are Traasdahl

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ovid-19 sent shockwaves through the food supply chain. Purchase and consumption patterns changed overnight. Distribution channels shuttered. Many supply chain partners rose to the challenge with heroic efforts, remarkably quick pivots and the creation of new business models. In the process, critical opportunities and weaknesses in the supply chain were exposed. As we head into the seventh month of the pandemic in the US, these issues and opportunities are placed front and center as food companies look to shore-up supply chain resilience and make their fast-turn fixes operationally sustainable. Here are some examples of recent food supply chain trends that should stick beyond the pandemic.

Sourcing flexibility For decades, supply chains focused on efficiency, aligning with a limited number of downstream suppliers, putting pressure on input costs, and minimizing inventory. While effective in an environment of relatively consistent sell-through, this approach is untenable in the face of dramatic disruptions and erratic recoveries that phase-in over time and differ based on location. The pandemic spotlighted the need for flexibility and agility to move quickly from one supply source to another. Identifying, vetting and engaging with a pool of strategic suppliers is now a strategic imperative.

Sourcing locally Consumers want to know where their food comes from, and they increasingly prefer it comes from nearby sources. Research from EY found that source of product origin transparency is important to 86 per cent of consumers, and that sourcing products locally is important to 85 per cent of consumers. Local means both domestic (vs. international) and from/near the community. Bringing the supply chain closer to market can accelerate speed to delivery, provide greater transparency, win consumer trust, reduce reliance on foreign markets, and increase resiliency.

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Trending in the arena of local sourcing is the growth of indoor agriculture. AgTech venture capital investment totaled $2.2 billion during the first half of 2020, after a 2019 record $2.7 billion. The indoor farming market is projected to be worth $40.25 billion by 2022. It delivers many advantages during normal or disruptive times, including hyper-local farm to market; ability to quickly pivot crops; built-in protection against pests, weather, and other outdoor impacts; improved yield; automated harvesting; longer shelf life; and more intense flavor. Geographic expansion of regional grow centers and store-level applications are currently in place at retailers such as Albertsons, Publix, and Whole Foods. These collaborations can only be expected to increase in the future.

Real-time inventory visibility from source to shelf A major speed bump in responding to the rapid-fire impacts of the pandemic was the lack of visibility

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in the entire supply chain. The need for transparent access to information related to raw materials, finished goods, warehouse inventory, goods-in-transit, retail inventory on shelf and in the store backroom, integrated with sales transactions and demand forecasts became clearer. A missing piece in this equation is in-store/on-shelf inventory status. New tools and resources are being developed to close the data gap, including FedEx’s new package location sensors, robots, Instacart data modelling from shopper audits, Shelf Pulse; IRI CPG Supply Index; and hand-held mobile devices for frontline employees. Better real-time data from stores about what is happening at the shelf and online can provide an early warning system to predict rapid depletions of inventory.

Online shopping fulfillment To meet the sudden, exponential growth in online grocery demand, retailers quickly pulled together a patchwork of

people, partnerships, and processes. Now the focus has shifted to replacing stopgap measures with operationally and financially sustainable solutions. Building out warehouse infrastructure and automated solutions for more efficient, effective order picking and fulfillment are becoming a top priority. Retailers are now establishing micro-fulfillment centers across their platforms, either by converting existing locations to curbside pick-up only, building new ‘dark stores’, specifically intended only for online order fulfillment, or creating hybrid stores by bolting on fulfillment space. Curbside pick-up, initially a safety practice, is now used for convenience and is table stakes. Reduced wait time is critical to shopper satisfaction. Implementation of order status via text messages, arrival technology that alerts in-store personnel when shoppers are approaching, prioritized parking, drivethrough areas, contactless loading, and payment options are all top initiatives. A number of high-tech solutions for


Supply Chain

last-mile home delivery have moved from back-burner experiments to frontand-center pilots. Driverless delivery is being tested at Stop & Shop, and even drone delivery pilots are underway at Walmart, Rouse Markets, McDonald’s, 7-Eleven, Walgreens, CVS, and Amazon.

Algorithmic Commerce: Data integration, utilization, sharing, and collaboration The common thread woven across all these innovative solutions is the necessity of understanding and leveraging data, analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and technology, to expedite informed, agile decision making and implementation, ensure shopper satisfaction and deliver profitable growth. There is no shortage of data, however, there is a lack of integration and data understanding, with an abundance of data silos in different

formats, so it becomes less useful. Algorithmic commerce - the ability to harness data by way of AI/ML analytics - is critical, and will result in accessible insights across the supply chain. AI/ ML-enabled systems continuously learn and adapt, providing advance warning of subtle shifts in behavior, which is particularly important given the volatility and complexity in today’s environment. For some, digital transformation initiatives in the supply chain have been slow to advance over the last few years. But time is no longer a luxury we can afford. Powerful analytical tools are available today through cloud-based platforms that can receive, normalize, and integrate massive amounts of qualitative and quantitative inputs in real-time, providing an unparalleled platform for retailer-supplier/internalexternal collaboration and informed decision making. The food supply chain demonstrated remarkable resilience and responsiveness in the face of changes wrought by the pandemic.

Many of these changes will be long lasting, if not permanent. Continuous improvement and innovation in the food supply chain – from accessibility to consumers, to reinventing the shopping experience, will be key to surviving and thriving no matter the challenges we face today or in the future. D

Are Traasdahl is the co-founder and CEO of Crisp. Crisp leverages the power of the cloud to connect and analyze disparate data sources to provide real-time insights and trends. Food suppliers, retailers, distributors and brokers use Crisp to manage supply more efficiently, reduce waste and skyrocket profitability. www.gocrisp.com

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TasteTest Extra relaxed gin The CBD trend shows no signs of slowing, and a Manchester based business is the latest company to join the growing market with a brand new, fully compliant CBD (Cannabidiol) infused gin. Strangeways Beers and Spirits has created Hazy Dry and Hazy Strawberry Gin, using CBD extract of the highest quality and supported by a COA (Certificate of Analysis). Playing to its Manchester heritage, the products were destined to be ‘only served behind bars’, however due to the Coronavirus pandemic, this was put on hold, and currently gin lovers across the UK can visit the website to purchase directly. As company founder Paul Hesketh noted, the CBD element sets the product apart. “The gin revolution isn’t slowing anytime soon and for many customers having their gin cocktail infused with CBD is exciting and adds a little more spice to their night than a wedge of lemon or stuffed olive.” www.strangewaysspirits.co.uk/

Two of the Team trialed the Strangeways products and both were impressed. The first commented on the sleek black packaging, before going onto the taste of the strawberry variant. “A great summery flavor, very smooth and fruity. Would be great in cocktails and when mixed with tonic the slightly blush shade of gin turns an opalescent color, which is appealing and a little different to the run of the mill gins.” Moving onto the Dry Gin, and the second tester described it as ‘a proper dry gin with fuller flavor and the added extra of something special.’ “It mixed well with lots of ice and its infused citrus notes really brought out the botanicals,” he added. “The addition of CBD made it a great gin to relax with, bringing added feelings of calmness and selfconfidence.”

Fresh and chilled Deciding that it was high time that fresh chocolate became the go-to standard for quality, simplicity of ingredients and indulgence, Russell & Atwell company founders Steve Russell and Giles Atwell set about the challenge of making restaurant quality, fresh chilled chocolates, for supermarket prices. Their efforts have

led to the launch of three sumptuous pouches of fresh chocolates, Outrageously Creamy Milk Chocolates, with a Fino de Aroma Milk Centre; Extra Dark Chocolates with a Premium Solomon Islands Cocoa Centre and Ridiculously Smooth Dark Chocolates with a Fino de Aroma Dark Centre. Made with delicious, high quality and

sustainable ingredients that you can find in the kitchen, Russell & Atwell’s unique blend of cocoa, together with fresh organic cream and honey brings richness and depth of flavor, as well as a much smoother melt. They also source their ingredients from small ethical producers, adding absolutely no nasties, and no palm oil, ever. www.russellandatwell.com

Our testers were very impressed with the fresh chilled chocolates. “The milk option was so delicious,” said tester one. “The shell had a good solid texture, making a nice contrast to the creamy center, which had a touch of caramel in the flavor. “My favorites were the Classic Dark Chocolates, which were rich but not bitter and had a nice honey tone to the center. I did also love the Extra Premium Dark Chocolates – with that added pinch of salt they were seriously grown up, and definitely need to be savored.”

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IndustryNews Iconic red cup Starting off the festive season, Nestlé has revealed the highly-anticipated line up of Starbucks Holiday Coffees and Favorites products, available at home for the first time. Starbucks Holiday Coffees will begin to roll out on store shelves and will be available globally in select supermarkets and online through the end of the year. The Starbucks Holiday Coffees and Favorites at-home range includes Starbucks Toffee Nut Latte, a rich and buttery flavor profile, and Starbucks Holiday Blend, a balanced and sweet coffee with herbal and maple notes. In total, five seasonal coffees will be available in roast and ground, whole bean coffee, capsules for Nespresso and Nescafé Dolce Gusto systems, as well as premium instant coffee. Philipp Navratil, Head of Beverages Strategic Business Unit at Nestlé, said: “This year’s holiday season will be different for many of us due to the ongoing pandemic. By offering this Starbucks Holiday Coffees and Favorites range, we are excited to give consumers the opportunity to bring the taste of the holidays home. It is the chance to experience the comfort of the café and the Starbucks experience at home, in a new way.” The new range comes in red packaging, inspired by Starbucks’s iconic red cup launched 20 years ago to mark the arrival of the holiday season. Today, the visual of stores turning red and getting that first red cup ignites the holiday season for many.

Added-value equipment Recognized leader and innovator in the global foodservice equipment industry, Alto-Shaam, has announced plans to release its original Cook & Hold Ovens with Halo Heat technology with a new design and advanced user-friendly controls. The new ovens are easy to operate, with intuitive one-touch cooking. They feature Alto-Shaam’s most advanced control yet and are very simple to use—requiring little or no operator training. The ovens can also be managed remotely through Alto-Shaam’s cloud-based remote oven management system, ChefLinc. Equipped with an intuitive dashboard, ChefLinc allows operators to seamlessly create, manage and distribute recipes to ovens in multiple locations through the cloud. This provides foodservice operators – and especially those with several sites all demanding the same food quality – complete control of their equipment, menus and business from wherever they are. Jeff McMahon, Senior Director of Product Management at AltoShaam noted that the flexibility of the original Cook & Hold oven could be overlooked. “These ovens enable operators to roast, proof, braise, reheat, ferment, sous-vide, hold and more in the same cabinet to provide a better distribution of workloads and relieve other pieces of kitchen equipment,” he explained. “Now more than ever, restaurant owners and other foodservice operators are searching for equipment that provides built-in savings,” he added. “Reducing labor and waste has never been more important. And now with a new design and advanced control options, greater yields and less food waste have never been more attractive.”

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Carlo Hein

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Beverages

Assess your impact How drinks companies can use their business as a force for good to help fight climate change. By Carlo Hein

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ith the drinks industry considerably behind in terms of sustainable practices, coupled with consumers increasing preferences to buy from purpose-led businesses; there has never been a more important time for drinks businesses to assess their impact. At Ramborn, we have a belief in a shared triple bottom line; uplifting people, our planet, and profit, for the benefit of all. We must be the change we seek in the world and business should be conducted as if people and our planet mattered, not just profit. Over the past few years, we’ve seen the drinks industry come on leaps and bounds with the likes of Arbikie, Freestar and Discarded spearheading sustainability initiatives to drive our industry forward, however, we must continue to move forward at pace in order to have a chance at reaching the 2030 targets for the Sustainable Development Goals.

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The impact of alcohol production is by no means insignificant on our environment; with fermentation releasing large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, huge amounts of irrigation employed to keep barley and vines healthy and the widespread use of pesticides having a negative impact on biodiversity. Our environment is suffering from a devastating loss of biodiversity, which is sadly the catastrophic cost of business as usual in our industry caused by a global shift towards industrial fruit sources. With the UN1 and WHO2 both identifying biodiversity as a key component of the global recovery from Covid-19, as well as the prevention of future pandemics, there’s never been a more important time to build a more sustainable economy. Drinks businesses must assess their impact and design their full supply chain carefully in order to ensure their impact is as low as it can be, implementing circular design

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principles for production and avoiding damaging industrial plantations. By challenging the norms since Ramborn was established, and closely assessing our impact, we’ve helped protect and revive nearly one million m2 (954,679m2 to be precise) of richly biodiverse habitat, home to over 5000

species. We’ve also saved 739,510kg of food waste due to our cider production, equivalent to 57 per cent of all the fruit Ramborn has pressed to date. These strategies have helped us become carbon negative, which shows what’s possible, in just four years, when you closely monitor your impact. It’s not just us at Ramborn who have the belief that fundamentally our businesses should be a force for good, in cider specifically, we’ve identified key trends which are driving our industry towards lowering our impact. We’ve noticed more and more brands focused on responsible production, sustainable agriculture and an increased focus on local provenance. The nature of cider production specifically, means that replanting trees is a crucial part of our responsibility to our planet, something Ramborn are acutely aware of, knowing over 150 local farmers by name in order to help maintain their orchards. Across the board in alcohol, the ‘no


Beverages and lo’ movement is gaining traction and we’ve found that our non-alcoholic offerings, both juices and non-alcoholic cider sodas, help reduce our carbon footprint even further by reducing the fermentation we undertake. Recognised globally, certified B Corporations® (B Corps™) are held to the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. The process should be a consideration for any business looking to get external verification on their sustainable strategies. Being a Certified B Corporation allows businesses to fully evaluate the impact of their business, and gives stakeholders – customers, suppliers, staff, and neighbors – the confidence that businesses are accountable to the highest, most rigorous ethical business standards possible. By attaining certification as a B Corp™, businesses join a prestigious global movement of progressive activists using business as a force for good, alongside the likes of Ben & Jerry’s, Innocent Drinks and Bruichladdich. For us, the B Corp certification achieved earlier this year, highlighted further the importance of acting local, we work very closely with our own community and local economy with the aim of having a positive social, economic, and environmental impact on our immediate surroundings. In terms of tangible benefits for businesses, achieving the B Corp status has already given us an advantage when building partnerships with other likeminded and well-established brands in the community to co-develop new products and initiatives. From what we’ve learnt on our journey to achieve the B Corp certification, I wanted to share the five areas to review when building your businesses sustainable credentials. To make positive sustainable change, you first need to conduct a comprehensive assessment of your practices, to understand what your company already does well, and where there is room for improvement. These areas below are used in the B Corp assessment tool, a free online assessment developed by the B Lab

team, which allows you to benchmark yourself against competitors, set goals to continually improve your impact and learn how to implement new strategies through proven and credible best practices. The areas you need to review are: 1. Governance - review policies relating to your mission, ethics, accountability and transparency 2. Workers - look at how you contribute to your employee’s wellbeing 3. Customers - how can you improve the value you create for your customers and consumers 4. Environment - look at improving your overall environmental impact 5. Community - how can you contribute to the economic and social well-being of your community I’d encourage any business, looking to stay competitive in a post Covid-19 world, to take an active approach in assessing their impact. At Ramborn, we envision a global economy that uses business as a force for good and we believe there has never been a better time to break down barriers and demand more from your own operations. Increasing pressure from policymakers, customers and investors means that change is happening, and drinks businesses need to act now or risk being left behind. D

1 UN Environment Programme. (2020, June 5). Time for Nature as World Environment Day shines a spotlight on biodiversity. https://www.unenvironment. org/news-and-stories/press-release/timenature-world-environment-day-shinesspotlight-biodiversity 2 World Health Organization: WHO. (2020, June 5). Nature is our Greatest Source of Health and Well-Being. https://www.who. int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/worldenvironment-day-2020

Carlo Hein is co-founder and chairman, Ramborn Cider Co. Ramborn Cider Co. is Luxembourg’s first cider producer and credited with reviving a tradition that dates back to the Romans. The purpose of Ramborn is to combat the climate crisis while supporting local economies and communities by protecting the natural environment in and around Luxembourg and reviving the culture of cider making. www.ramborn.com/en

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Bridging the gap As the food and drink manufacturing sector has experienced an unprecedented rise in demand during 2020, the skills gaps that exist have become all the more important to fill. Will Daynes looks at some of the ways this challenge is being addressed

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s the old saying goes, you would probably have to have been living under a rock for the last nine months not to be aware of the immense change and upheaval that the world has experienced in 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic has been described as a ‘once in a century’ event, and its impact has created challenges that before now would have been unprecedented for many. The UK’s food and drink manufacturing industry has been uniquely affected by the pandemic, having been faced with the need to continue to help feed a nation amidst a backdrop of lockdown’s and various restrictions. “The food and drink manufacturing sector has found itself placed in a remarkable situation during 2020, which has resulted in productivity increasing to levels that have rarely been seen before in order to meet the demand of consumers. While other areas of the industry such as restaurants and other

Louise Cairns

hospitality venues have been closed, or have seen a reduction in demand, since March, manufacturers have expanded significantly in terms of output to meet the needs of retailers and end users,” states Louise Cairns, CEO of The National Skills Academy for Food & Drink. The National Skills Academy for Food & Drink exists to provide businesses across the UK’s food and drink manufacturing and processing industry with access to leading edge workforce training, vocational study and skills upgrades, which are in turn designed to boost productivity, innovation and growth. With a mission of making the food and drink industry in the UK the best in the world, it also acts as the industry’s voice to Government on the strategic skills issues affecting the industry. “We support employers in navigating their way around the skills system, and work to devise programs and solutions that facilitate the development of those


Skills

skills that they need to meet their day-today requirements, whether it be through dedicated providers, universities, apprenticeships or other means,” Louise says. “Demand for labour has been rising significantly in the last six months in particular, with companies suffering from a shortage of people needed to get goods out of their facilities and on their way to stores quickly enough. This has resulted in a need for both semi-skilled labour – typically made up of packaging or warehousing personnel – as well as high-skilled technicians and engineers.” In the case of the latter category, Louise explains how a move in recent years into more highly automated environments has led to the role of the operator in the food and drink manufacturing industry becoming much more akin to that of a technician. Said individual is increasingly having less hands-on contact with the products themselves, and taking more responsibility in ensuring that different equipment and

tools are working properly. “This scenario means that these workers ideally need to be multi-skilled individuals with a degree of understanding or experience of engineering, as well as food science. We are certainly moving further away from a more manual environment into a more high-tech, automated one, and therefore there will be an ever-greater need in the future for more technically-minded people.” Arguably one of the biggest issues that the industry faces in this regard is the large skills gaps that exist, whether it be as a result of a shortage of people coming through the educational pipeline who want to fulfil such roles, or from an inability to attract engineers and technicians from other walks of life into the food and drink sector. This is where the efforts of The National Skills Academy for Food & Drink, and others, become vital. “A lot of our recent work has been focused on ensuring that the new apprenticeship standards that have been developed contain the knowledge that is needed to deliver the skills that fit those more technical occupations that we have spoken of going forward,” Louise states. “In our role as a facilitator, we have worked to bring the industry together to develop the food and drink engineering standard, as well as all of the food operation standards, in order to try and help plug the gaps that presently exist. By listening to employers and gaining an understanding of what they need from potential employees,

we work to input that feedback into apprenticeships, so that we can create practical solutions to the challenges the industry currently faces. “We are also a part of the Workforce and Skills Group, which is a working ground spun out of the Food Sector Council and is actively looking at a number of initiatives as part of plans to galvanize the sector into engaging with skills providers more than it does at present. There is work ongoing to determine how best to mobilize small businesses to engage more with the skills system, and we are also working with various existing programs such as the UK Government’s Kickstart Scheme, which provides funding to create new job placements for 16-to-24 year olds.” One other barrier that needs to be overcome, Louise adds, is that provision isn’t moving as quickly as the sector itself. “This means that a lot of the equipment being used to train prospective engineers isn’t always reflective of that which is used specifically within the food and drink manufacturing arena. Therefore, we have to work to improve the capabilities and resources that skills providers have access to in order to enable them to deliver the type of training that the sector relies upon. Only by moving at the same pace as the food and drink manufacturing industry can we be confident that we can fill the skills gaps that exist today with technically proficient people who are trained in using the right tools and equipment.” D

For further information on what is available from The National Skills Academy for Food & Drink, please visit: www.nsafd.co.uk

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The spirit of Tennessee Ole Smoky Distillery is one of America’s leading producers of authentic moonshine and whiskey products

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Ole Smoky Distillery

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hile the company itself was founded only ten short years ago, Ole Smoky Distillery can trace its roots back to the earliest settlers in East Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains. Basing its success on the long history of moonshine production in the area, and a 100-year-old family recipe, the company was the first federally licensed distillery in the history of East Tennessee. Today it stands as the leading distiller of premium moonshine in the world, with its

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moonshine and whiskey products now available in 49 US States, as well as internationally. The rise to success of Ole Smoky Distillery in the decade since it was established has been nothing short of meteoric – its four famed Tennessee distilleries are now the most visited in the world. In 2019 alone, more than 4.5 million people visited Ole Smoky’s locations at The Holler and The Barrelhouse in Gatlinburg, The Barn in Pigeon Forge, and 6th & Peabody in Nashville.

The Holler is the original distillery and the business HQ, and it produces all of the company’s signature flavors from locally sourced ingredients. Visitors to The Holler can experience live music, authentic-working moonshine stills and learn the history and lore of moonshining in East Tennessee. After taking in the entire process from beginning to end, they get to sample the home-grown shine and purchase their favorite flavors. The second distillery in the Ole Smoky family was opened in 2014, when it launched The Barn at the Island in


Ole Smoky Distillery Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Featuring the same elements (distillery, tasting bar, retail store) as The Holler, this location has approximately 6000 square feet of public space, with an adjacent onsite still and tasting area that creates a more intimate experience. Built on an open corner with abundant glass frontage, the Barn benefits from 180 degrees of natural light and a slightly contemporary feel, while echoing the design of the original Holler through the use of reclaimed local barnwood and similar finishes, fixtures, artwork and other elements. Moonshine made at the Barn is sold onsite. In the lead up to the opening of the Barn in Pigeon Forge, Joe Baker, co-founder of Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine, explained that it was designed to help the company better serve the many visitors to its hometown. “We’re excited to be a part of The Island. It’s a great destination

that offers a memorable experience for families visiting the area. We’re confident that this location will become a must-see for folks traveling to East Tennessee,” he said. Ole Smoky’s Whiskey line was introduced in 2017 and now includes more than 17 popular varieties. Consumers can sample a constantly rotating assortment of flavors at the company’s Barrelhouse Distillery in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Visitors to the Barrelhouse can witness the distilling process, taste the innovative variety of whiskey flavors and enjoy some retail therapy.

Uniquely American Clearly no strangers to researching and finding new and exciting locations from which to attract a new host of moonshine converts, Ole Smoky continued its expansion plans with 6th & Peabody, where it joined forces

with Yee Haw Brewing Company, one of Tennessee’s top craft breweries, to collectively open a complex in Nashville’s burgeoning area of SoBro. The venue features a distillery, brewery, bars, tasting areas, beer & bottle shops, merchandise, big screen TVs and live entertainment. Visitors can enjoy moonshine and whiskey cocktails, beer by the glass, and food including White Duck Taco and Nashville’s own Prince’s Hot Chicken, as well as purchase jars of moonshine, whiskey and bottled beer for enjoyment at home. Looking at the fantastic growth that Ole Smoky has achieved so far, it is not surprising to learn that in August 2020 it was included on the notable Inc. 5000 list. Robert Hall, CEO of Ole Smoky Distillery acknowledged the significance of joining a list of such esteemed US businesses. “We are honored to be ranked amongst some of the world’s most successful and fast-

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growing companies,” he said. “This is the first time Ole Smoky Distillery has been recognized on the Inc. 5000 list, and it’s fitting as we celebrate our tenth anniversary this year. Our team has worked very hard to achieve success over the last decade. We’re proud to have introduced our uniquely American moonshine and whiskey products to an entirely new group of consumers who enjoy them across the country and around the world.” The tenth anniversary that Robert referred to was celebrated by Ole Smoky with the release of a special commemorative moonshine that pays homage to the drink’s rich history. Created with a mash bill of corn, rye, and barley, and handcrafted in a pot still, Ole Smoky 153 celebrates the taste of the past and the brand’s anniversary. Joe Baker echoed Robert’s pride in the company’s achievements in its first decade, and described

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Ole Smoky 153 as ‘a new recipe that honors our ten years of legal distilling and the history of moonshine.’

Flavor assortment Having referred to the moonshines and whiskeys that Ole Smoky’s team of master distillers have created, it is worth exploring the range in more detail, as the flavors and variety of options are both traditional and contemporary. Bottled in iconic Mason jars as an important part of their heritage, the Moonshine range includes options extending from the Original Moonshine recipe, to White Lightnin’, Moonshine Cherries, Blue Flame and the aforementioned Ole Smoky 153. Other flavors include Apple Pie and Moonshine Peaches, Blackberry, Moonshine Pickles and Cucumber Mojito. There are also some cream options – including Butter Pecan and

White Chocolate Strawberry. The whiskey range is equally extensive, with various options including Salty Watermelon and Peanut Butter. It also features some cream liqueurs including Tennessee Mud and Mint Choc Chip. Recognizing the popularity of the moonshines in mixed drinks in its Nashville distillery, 6th & Peabody, and in bars and restaurants where Ole Smoky is served, the product development team saw an opportunity for expansion. In July 2020, the company introduced its newest line of products – refreshing, delicious and convenient canned cocktails that can be enjoyed whenever the mood takes you. Packaged in a ready-to-drink format, and using its authentic Tennessee moonshine, the cocktails are available in Apple Pie Ginger, Blackberry Lemonade, Mountain


Ole Smoky Distillery ‘Rita, and Mountain Mule flavors, and contain nine per cent alcohol by volume. “We are thrilled to release these new moonshine canned cocktails in Tennessee,” commented Robert. “They allow our customers to indulge in high quality cocktail experiences while enjoying the convenience of a can.”

The past decade has been a whirlwind of development, growth and success for Ole Smoky Distillery – even faced by the challenges of Covid-19 the company proved its pedigree. Having had to close its distilleries, it instead redirected part of its capacity to produce its own range of hand sanitizer, which was distributed initially

The team orientated culture at Ole Smoky enabled the company to keep an optimistic outlook, and maintain a focus on supporting the community that surrounds its Tennessee locations. Since 2010, many thousands of consumers have tried and fallen in love with Ole Smoky products and demand continues to rise. In March 2020, the company was once again named a 2019 Impact Hot Brand by M. Shanken Communications, having grown over 15 per cent each year from 2017-2019 – this was the third consecutive year it was recognized in this way. “We’re proud to be a recipient once again of a Hot Brand award,” Robert confirmed. “It’s an honor to receive recognition from such a prominent industry group for the

to local law enforcement agencies and first responders, before its own staff and families and finally customers ordering directly from the distilleries.

tremendous growth Ole Smoky has achieved in the last three years.” More recently, M. Shanken Communications’ named the Ole

Industry recognition

Smoky Whiskey line, including its more than 17 inventive varieties, an Impact Hot Prospect Brand in its Impact Newsletter for the 2019 calendar year. This is the first time Ole Smoky Distillery has been named to this particular prestigious list of emerging stars of the industry. “We are honored that our Ole Smoky Whiskey product line has been named a Hot Prospect Brand by M. Shanken Communications,” said Robert. “Ole Smoky’s family of flavored whiskeys stand out amongst the rest because of their creativity, quality and range of delicious flavors. I am proud of our team’s performance, getting these great tasting products to market and significantly growing their sales over time. I look forward to expanding our distribution and consumer following for many years to come.” D www.osdistillery.com

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Taste the difference

Bubbakoo’s Burritos has been all about building better burritos since 2008, and in turn has grown the brand by delivering a combination of outstanding service, attention to detail and the highest quality ingredients

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Bubbakoo’s Burritos

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I

t was in 1999, while the pair were working at the Johnny Rockets restaurant franchise, that Bill Hart and Paul Altero first met. At the time, Bill was in the role of Supervisor at the company’s Albany, New York, location, and it was Paul who was sent there to assist its growth as General Manager. The latter quickly took the former under his wing – so to speak – and together they climbed the ladder of the business over the next ten years, with Bill ultimately managing its Midwest market and Paul the entire East Coast. When Johnny Rockets was sold in 2007, the pair set the wheels in motion for establishing their own food brand.

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As fate would have it, back in 1995 Paul had completed a school project centered around a fictional burrito shop called Bubbakoo’s Burritos. Thirteen years later, in 2008, Bill and Paul turned this project into reality with the opening of the first Bubbakoo’s Burritos (Bubbakoo’s) in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. Since then, the brand has expanded to multiple locations along the Jersey Shore, serving thousands of its now legendary burritos in the process. “We believe that there is a lot that sets Bubbakoo’s apart from the other burrito shops out there,” begins Founder Bill Hart. “Firstly, the taste and freshness of our food is unmatched,

In the next three-to-five years, we see the company being much bigger than it already is now! By the end of 2021, we hope to have 200 locations signed, with at least 100 of these open. Come the end of 2022, we would like to see both of those figures doubled


Bubbakoo’s Burritos and we are always looking to add next level flavors. We offer your standard beef, chicken and pork options, but that is not what makes us special, rather it is menu options such as our cooked-to-order hibachi style steak and shrimp burrito that our customers have fallen in love with. Our steak is hand trimmed and marinated for 24 hours and cooked-to-order while we assemble the rest of your burrito. We also have a Buffalo crispy chicken quesadilla that is one of our top sellers, as well as other favorites including our General Tsos chicken, Sriracha pork, ghost pepper shredded chicken, and sweet chili shrimp. We have also created a signature entrée called a ‘Chiwawa’, which is a fried rice ball that we flatten and top with queso and all of your burrito bowl favorites.” “Secondly, what makes us special is the fact that our service standards are always incredibly high. How we treat our

customers from the minute they walk into one of our locations until the minute they leave is a very important part of our training. From the moment somebody steps in, we want them to feel genuinely welcomed into our restaurants. We like to start a conversation with our customers, creating a comfortable experience, during which time we can do things such as offering them suggestions on how to create something unique for their taste buds. Ultimately, we want our customers to know that here at Bubbakoo’s, we are capable of

much more than what they are perhaps used to.”

People and places Each Bubbakoo’s restaurant boasts a cool, fun and relaxing atmosphere for customers to enjoy, with Bubbakoo’s branded surf and skate videos, and a diverse playlist of background music setting the tone and energy of the brand. “We currently have 39 locations open, with another 65 in development,” fellow Founder Paul Altero adds. “Our original goal was to open a few

MAP Restaurant Supplies Most franchises experience severe growing pains as expansion goes from regional to national. MAP Restaurant Supplies understands this level of stress and aims to make the experience a positive one, where businesses can focus on what they do best: Sell great food and continue their franchise expansion. MAP Restaurant Supplies has worked with up-and-coming franchises, such as Bubbakoo’s Burritos, to not only be a source of equipment and supplies, but also a problem solver. MAP offers an experienced sales and operational staff dedicated to assisting their clients by providing seamless project and franchisee management. MAP’s mantra is to be an industry leader in customer service and to ensure that each client is met with the utmost care and respect from their first consultation to their continued day-to-day operation. Because at MAP, you are more than just a business, you are family.

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corporate locations, franchise a few more, and see where it took us. Having experienced the success that we have to date, our new goal is to find great people to grow our brand across the country. Indeed, one of our biggest thrills is watching other people and their families take such pride in the Bubbakoo’s Burritos name.”

Core values The first ten Bubbakoo’s locations were wholly owned by the company itself, but since then the adoption of a franchising model has really been the catalyst behind the expansion of the brand. “Franchising was always in our plans, having witnessed its strengths first-hand at Johnny Rockets,” Bill confirms. “It is a way to grow a brand rapidly, but if done too fast with the

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wrong people and in the wrong markets it can be a failure. To avoid this, we laid out a plan to develop the brand from its core market and effectively ‘spider’ out from there. Our first several franchisees were local to us and our experience with them allowed us to put together the necessary tools and systems to provide the support needed. “When looking for franchisees, we look for partners that align with our core values. In addition, we seek multi-unit operators that currently have restaurant experience, understands the franchise model, and strong liquidity. We invite all of our franchise prospects to tour our restaurants with us, and we finish this off with a large lunch, which offers us time to sit down, relax, and really get to know one another in a comfortable setting.”

One of Paul’s often used phrases is that the pair are very much in ‘the people business’. It is perhaps apropos, therefore, that they invest immense focus on their men and women how help Bubbakoo’s succeed on a daily basis. Among the many people who have helped the brand to grow are its three Vice Presidents; Gus DiGiovanni, Vice President of Operations (who previously served as Director of Operations for Dunkin’ Brands), Ron Bidnoist, Vice President of Construction (former Senior Director of Operations for Marie Callenders Restaurants in California), and Christopher Ives, Vice President of Finance (whose past roles include Operating Officer for Frutta Bowls and Accounting Manager for OnDeck Capital Inc.). “Without the right people in place throughout the business, you inevitably


Bubbakoo’s Burritos

become unstuck with a dark future ahead of you,” Paul states. “As a growing brand, we constantly have new people coming into the Bubbakoo’s family, and we take a lot of pride in making sure that we take care of them from the very start, giving them the right training, and offering them honest feedback and direction to help them achieve the career goals that they have with us.”

Expansion plans Community is also massively important to Bill and Paul, and as an active member of the community, Bubbakoo’s has long been committed to the overall well-being of all of those it interacts with. As a business, it is dedicated to paying it forward, whether that be by fundraising or supporting or devising

specialist programs to reward and help people. An example of the latter would be its Read it to Eat it Program, designed to reward students for continuing education. The idea came about when Bill was looking to help his own two school age sons achieve their weekly reading goals, but doing so in a fun way. “At the time, my mind turned to Pizza Hut’s Book It Club program before it hit me that we could do something similar ourselves,” he exclaims. “The concept is simple. We reach out to schools and let them know that we are offering this program in their area. Teachers then email us asking for a certain number of coupons. We, in turn, send them a branded index card for the kids to fill out naming five books that they have read. Once this has been signed off by

their teacher it entitles them to a free student meal at Bubbakoo’s. Today, over 60,000 kids in more than 250 schools participate in this program nationwide, and we are very excited about watching this grow as we open in new markets in the future.” Speaking of the future, where do Bill and Paul hope to see Bubbakoo’s in the coming years. “In the next three-tofive years, we see the company being much bigger than it already is now! By the end of 2021, we hope to have 200 locations signed, with at least 100 of these open. Come the end of 2022, we would like to see both of those figures doubled. Our brand definitely has the strength to reach 1000 units or more, and we plan to see it hit that target,” Bill concludes. D www.bubbakoos.com

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Clean Juice

Zest of the Best

One of America’s fastest-growing (and only) organic juice bar operators, Clean Juice’s USDA-certified outlets offer healthy, organic food and beverages to on-the-go guests across 25 states

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I believe that in three years’ time, we will have at least 250 Clean Juice locations in the US. By 2025, I think that number will be 350 and by then, you will probably see a few Clean Juice stores open internationally too

Landon and Kat Eckles

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I

n only four years of franchising, Clean Juice today has more than 100 stores open, with another 50 in development. How did this highvelocity juice bar start? Well, it was back in the summer of 2014, that Landon Eckles was looking for a career change. After years working in international real estate, Landon wanted to spend more time with his wife, Kat, and their growing young family. Passionate about health and wellness, Kat and Landon had, for years, envisioned opening a truly healthy, organic juice bar. In June 2015, their dream became a reality with the opening of Clean Juice’s flagship store at Birkdale Village in Huntersville, North Carolina. This first Clean Juice store was an immediate success, so much so that, less than a year later, the couple opened four more sites. Encouraged by such rapid growth and early success, the husband and wife team decided to franchise their young business. Just five years later, Clean Juice has over 100 locations across the United States, nearly 90 per cent of them franchised units, with 16 new sites currently in development. The company’s achievements did not go unnoticed. Earlier this year, the company was listed at #957 on the Inc. 5000, the most prestigious ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. Landon, who now works as Clean Juice’s CEO, believes that the firm’s success is owed in equal parts to the Clean Juice concept and how it has been executed by both its grinder management team and employees, as well as its Franchise Partners. “Nobody had ever done a certified organic restaurant and scaled it nationally before,” he declares. “Taking that risk, and figuring out that process, was very challenging, but now I think our guests have come to truly believe in us. They know that our menu is transparent, and they know we are not serving them something that is claiming to be healthy but isn’t - like a lot of our competitors. When someone visits Clean Juice, they know they can trust the products being served and the people doing it behind the counter. “Guest experience is so important to us and is a big part of our training and culture,” Landon adds. “I’ve said since


Clean Juice

day one, it doesn’t matter if you serve the best product in the world if it is not done with love and kindness. Our recipe for success has come from serving a great product, doing it in an incredible way, and creating an environment that guests want to return to.”

Truly healthy When it comes to the all-organic menu at Clean Juice, it was always imperative to Kat and Landon that the raw materials sourced to make its products were of the high-quality organic ingredients

that would be better for the customer and better for the environment. From this foundation of healthy, super-food ingredients, the couple devised a diverse offering of more than just cold- and fresh pressed juices, as the name implies. The company also provides smoothies, acai bowls, Greenoa™ bowl salads, wraps and soups to suit all manner of people and palates. “I knew that if we were able to provide something that we believe is truly healthy for our guests, then it would allow us to create more menu items that

we really feel comfortable with,” Landon says. “We wanted to have something for everybody because I think, a lot of the time, juice bars use ingredients nobody has ever heard of and it can be a little intimidating. We wanted to establish more of a family feel, so even though we have the intense smoothies and juices, we also have more basic products that appeal to a wider range of people. “Today, our menu consists of coldpressed juice, which is our bottled juice, freshly-made juice, smoothies and protein smoothies, acai bowls, which

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are like a very thick smoothie base topped with granola and fresh fruits, Greenoa salad bowls, wraps, toasted wraps, as well as seasonal items like soups and hot drinks in winter. As you can see, we are not just a juice bar, we have a plethora of menu items united by the fact that they are all very healthy, while also tasting good.” As a franchise, consistency in quality and service is vital for Clean Juice. The guest experience is paramount to the business. This is established on the first day that a prospective Franchise Partner visits the company’s head office during Discovery Day and continues as they receive training and ongoing support to ensure all guests “feel better physically and emotionally when they leave than when they came in.” More than anything, Landon believes it is important that a franchisee understands the company’s culture and what it is that makes Clean Juice different. “We educate our franchisees through the whole sales process so that they know what they are getting into and there are no surprises when they open in terms of our expectations,” Landon states. “New franchisees go through months

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Clean Juice

of training, including here at our home office where they spend time learning the back-end classroom materials, but also out in our stores where they learn everything from how to make a smoothie to the more complex ordering processes. Finally, once their own store is ready to open, we send a team of trainers out to help them create that Clean Juice culture and experience on the ground from day one. After that, we have field business consultants out across the country who work with our franchisees on a daily basis to make sure things are going well in areas like marketing and guest experience. It all means that our franchisees and our people have no doubts about the culture expectations at Clean Juice, from their first training session through to opening.” With the help of its Franchise Partners, Clean Juice has become a national brand in the United States, and customers can now enjoy its products from coast to coast. The firm recently

took another positive step in its mission to provide Clean Juice products to as many people in as many communities as possible when it announced a new partnership with ezCater in early 2020. A corporate catering provider, ezCater will allow Clean Juice’s catering menu to become an option for work events, parties, and gatherings. “We provide our guests with an opportunity to order ahead and pick up their products, we deliver products out, and despite the pandemic, we see catering as a big part of our business as we move forward simply because people are craving healthy options,” Landon explains. “We also believe that eZCater is trusted by a lot of existing customers and clients and will help us to get into offices and doctor’s offices, as well as making us accessible to pharmaceutical reps, office managers, and a variety of people who cater for their workplace. I think many people want truly healthy catering and that is a niche we can provide.”

Moving forward Alongside its catering offering, Clean Juice recently launched an app that allows its guests to order ahead, delivery, earn rewards and most importantly, get educated on the importance of organic eating and living well through its BeOrganic podcast. The added service has been particularly useful in 2020 when Covid-19 has forced many consumers to stay away from stores and restaurants, and instead, order curbside or delivery. “We launched the delivery offering about a year ago and I’m glad that we did because our business would have really suffered without it,” Landon reports. “Guest traffic to our stores is still down a bit on last year, but our sales are up, and what that tells me is that people are

ordering through our app and other third-party delivery providers. Customers want more accessibility. They want ease of ordering and products brought to them. Satisfying this market has helped increase our sales by around $100,000 a week.” Always looking to move the business forward, Landon aims to consistently and continually find ways to serve Clean Juice guests outside of its juice bars and the company is now looking at improving its packaging, pricing and delivery menu to ensure that customers keep coming back for more. Nevertheless, physical stores remain an important part of the Clean Juice strategy and the volume of customers visiting stores and utilizing curbside pickup services is rising each month. “We didn’t know Coronavirus was going to happen, but we were taking steps to protect our business from an event like a pandemic and ensure that we could still serve our guests. It was a little bit of luck and a little bit of listening to what our guests wanted,” Landon reveals. “For us, the most important thing we do is serve really healthy, USDA organic products, but the thing that we care most about is loving our guests and creating an environment where they feel welcome. That will never stop, no matter how much we expand.” For Clean Juice, growth is the continued objective in 2021 and beyond, and Landon is confident that the company will succeed. “I believe that in three years’ time, we will have at least 250 Clean Juice locations in the US,” he asserts. “By 2025, I think that number will be 350 and by then, you will probably see a few Clean Juice stores open internationally too.” D www.cleanjuice.com

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A recipe for success Founded by one of Utah’s best competition barbecue teams – R&R BBQ’s restaurants today serve some of the finest meals to ever hit their customers’ lips

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R&R BBQ R&R Crew

F

rom the beginning, smoking meats was always more than just a hobby for the founders of R&R BBQ, it was a passion. “The brand essentially got its start as a competition barbecue team including Rod and Roger Livingstone (R&R), first competing with friends and neighbors, and later winning contests in the state of Utah and the Mountain West district,” explains Brand President and industry veteran Neil Harfert. “The pair did extremely well, and they soon became recognized as one of the premier barbecue teams in the United States.” During this time, the demand for the R&R team’s mouthwatering barbecue eventually led to the opening of their first brick-and-mortar restaurant in downtown Salt Lake City. “Driven by a maniacal focus on food and service, the first restaurant was incredibly successful. A second site followed a few years later, which was even more popular, and by now the growth potential of the brand had become obvious.” In need of a capital partner possessing both the financial support to grow, as well as experience in building successful restaurant businesses, R&R would go on to partner with the private equity investment organization, Mercato Partners and their Savory Restaurant Fund. “They specialize in the development of highpotential, early stage restaurant brands, offering a wealth of support to operators in the form of accounting, payroll, training, design, real estate, construction, marketing, and more,” Neil reveals. “With the partnership, R&R opened an additional six restaurants – all in the state of Utah.”

Invest in people One of the things that Neil steadfastly believes makes R&R BBQ so special is that it packages its fantastic food and customer service in restaurants that he calls absolutely beautiful. “Our restaurants are larger than most barbecue establishments, in that they seat between 80 and 120 guests in a fast-casual dining atmosphere,” he says.

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“When it comes to actually opening up a new location, another difference between us and some other brands is that we invest a great deal in our people. Our approach is to go all-in with both pre-opening training and post-opening support in order to give our team the potential to develop excellent proficiency in their roles which leads to long-lasting, incredible customer experiences.”

New initiatives R&R BBQ promises its customers the finest barbecue to ever hit their lips, and those who experience its food universally attest that the company’s recipes are amazing. Staples of its core menu include its best-selling Certified Angus Beef brisket, as well as pork spareribs, shredded pulled pork, chicken, spicy Andouille sausage, and more recently, smoked turkey breast. The latter was originally introduced as a seasonal offering in the form of a smoked turkey cobb salad following the brand’s belief in food innovation, but the turkey has proven so popular that it may soon be featured on its core menu. Meanwhile, on the catering side, the company also offers an expanded selection of higher-end proteins such as smoked beef tenderloin, smoked salmon and other selections that it does not serve within its restaurants. “When launching any new product such as our smoked turkey cobb salad, we spend an inordinate amount of time on its development, including exhaustive testing and sampling, with the aim of making sure that it completely resonates with – and generates excitement among – our customers,” Neil states. This year – 2020 – has been one almost entirely defined by the Covid-19 pandemic, and in the face of this unprecedented challenge R&R BBQ has had to evolve in order to satisfy its customers. “One of the first things we did when Covid-19 hit was to trim our menu options by around 40 percent,” Neil says. “We knew we might need to reduce our staffing levels given the immediate drop in sales, and that this would require us to have a more efficient menu, one which we could execute quickly with limited complexity, while still providing best-in-class food quality.” In recent months, the brand has reinstated the vast majority of those items as sales volumes have returned to pre-Covid-19 levels. “With respect to the catering revenue channel, there is currently a huge demand for individuallypackaged meals, which we are providing in the form of our ‘BBQ in a Box’ products. We have five options that are not only packed with high quality, generously portioned food, but are also very economical for larger groups, and that is important at a time when budgets are tight.”

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R&R BBQ Meanwhile, R&R BBQ’s takeout and delivery sales have increased massively, going from around 20 percent of the business pre-Covid-19, to almost 50 percent or higher in some of its restaurants. “Bearing in mind that barbecue in the United States is very much a communal food that is typically shared with others, this was a massive shift for our business,” Neil confirms. “One of our current initiatives is in figuring out how to differentiate ourselves further from all the other food-in-a-bag concepts, and we want to do this by transferring the warm, welcoming and engaging experience that customers get inside our restaurants into the delivery arena. We’re working on things like improved messaging and branding, as well as “outside-the-box” ideas like thank you cards, clean up kits, etc. Whatever we choose to do, it will be another example of how we have been able to pivot our business to react to these

challenges, and stay relevant to our customers.” Another change for the company in 2020 was the retirement of its founders. “We will forever be thankful for the platform Rod & Roger provided. Their passion for amazing quality barbecue and genuine hospitality will continue to fuel some amazing growth and opportunities for our team,” said Harfert. What of the future for R&R BBQ then? “The success that we have had – and continue to have – at our existing locations is certainly what we will replicate going forward,” Neil enthuses. “We were already on an aggressive growth trajectory prior to Covid-19 hitting,

and this was only briefly paused over the past eight months, with new restaurants currently under construction and set to open in the next several months. We have a further five identified sites which will open in 2021, and within the next five years I can see no reason why we couldn’t see more than 50 locations in new markets across the United States. If we keeping doing what we have done historically, which is to provide unbelievably consistent, highquality meals at a great value, and if we continue to find good real estate and fill the restaurants with amazing team members who we treat like family, then that is a recipe for incredible success!” D www.randrbbq.com

SYSCO SYSCO and R&R BBQ joined in a partnership when they opened their first location in downtown SLC in 2013. The partnership has now grown to nine current locations with a tenth location opening in November2020. The strength of the partnership grew over time and was strengthened even more during the COVID-19 pandemic. Both companies have always worked together to make business decisions that were win-win for each other. The future looks very bright for SYSCO Intermountain Foods and R&R BBQ.

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Photography credit: Ellie King in collaboration with Gosh! Food

Bye-bye, badditives! O Growing year on year, and with a new production facility on the horizon, Gosh! Food is on a quest to bring its plant-based flavor sensations to the masses 44 www.foodchainmagazine.com

ver the last five years, the UK’s plant-based food market has grown rapidly. Increasing public engagement with vegan lifestyles, conscious consumerism and healthy meat alternatives mean that the sector is now worth over £600 million, with chilled plant-based products responsible for more than half that figure. Since the brand was launched in 2016, Gosh! Food has grown in line with the market and continues to thrive as more plant-based food enters the mainstream. Originally known as Great Food, the company’s earliest products included plant-based falafels, bites, and healthy snack options. When current CEO Jane Rayner and Commercial Director Maureen Holebrook joined the firm in 2013 and 2014 respectively, a clear

David Blagg

vision was established for the company’s future in terms of growing the business into the mainstream market and adding a variety of all natural, plant-based options alongside the company’s popular line of products. As part of this mission, Great Food rebranded and Gosh! Food was born, growing its product offering, and positioning it amongst a burgeoning plant-based retail segment. In 2016, Gosh! launched its first five products: four varieties of burger, including its Mushroom & Beetroot Burger, and one bite sized product, which was its Sweetcorn & Quinoa Bites. Though these products remain vastly popular to this day, Gosh! has also added multiple flavored bite offerings, as well as plant- and vegetable-based burgers and sausages aimed to be eaten as part of a main meal. It’s been


Gosh! Food Ltd an exciting period of expansion for Gosh!, and Operations Director David Blagg contends that the company is just getting started. “The last three years have been incredible,” David declares. “We have seen yearly growth over 30 per cent, triggered mostly within our retail channel, and we see more and more people buying into the brand. We are very much aimed at the flexitarian market, which is people who are actively looking to reduce their meat consumption, but not necessarily wanting to be vegetarian or vegan or anti-meat. As you see quite a lot in the media, people are looking for healthier opportunities to cut down on meat, and they want something not just healthy, but tasty too. “In 2019, the big-ticket item was Greggs’ vegan sausage roll and there are now similar offerings in Burger King and KFC,” David adds. “People are looking for delicious options within the

vegetarian/vegan market – areas which have been established for a very long time, but were potentially perceived to be boring and not offering many flavorsome eating opportunities. Now though, with the growth in the market, businesses are cottoning on and offering people much more choice, variety and flavor. Flexitarians in particular are really driving the growth because they want that healthy, tasty opportunity more and more throughout the week and into the weekend. We, at Gosh!, are a big part of that. We offer the uniqueness of using 100 per cent natural ingredients, we have a completely allergen-free production facility and our ingredients

labels are completely clean, meaning we use no additives whatsoever. Currently, that is our big unique selling point versus anyone else in the market.”

Power of the people A fairly small organization compared to some of its competitors, Gosh! is led by a team of industry professionals with experience working at some of the sector’s biggest brands. As well as this collective expertise, Gosh! benefits from a lean organizational structure that allows the company to be proactive, agile, and quick to make decisions. It is a modern and

Leeways Packaging Ltd Established in 1971, Leeways have grown to become the leading independent supplier of thermoformed packaging in the UK. They pride themselves on supporting their customers by offering innovative product design, market leading product quality and consistent unrivalled levels of customer service whilst sustainability always being at the top of their agenda. This is evident by their commitment to use 100% renewable energy (a large proportion coming from their own solar farm!) Their latest investments include integrated RPET sheet extrusion which will enable the company to manufacture their food-grade products using 100% post-consumer waste whilst being 100% recyclable.

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Gosh! is a great brand, so we are going to keep investing in our marketing and product development, as well as work on improving our manufacturing facilities. At the back end of this year, you will see an exciting NPD launch, with an accompanying promotional campaign, including TV advertising that takes us in a new direction. In the first quarter of 2021, our product development plans will take us into another new category and by then we will have the second site up and running

Current site

New site

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positive approach to business that David believes begins at management level and filters down through the company. “I come from a big business background,” David says, “and I truly believe in the power of the people you employ. You can have a good leadership team with the correct vision, but if you don’t get the buy-in from your workforce, you won’t get far. That’s why we listen to our teams and believe in their empowerment and internal succession. It’s very much a meritocracy. “Last year, we introduced an employee survey to help us look at our culture. In response to the results, we made some changes to become more inclusive and introduced more reward and recognition initiatives. It is important that our people are happy, so we do what we can to support them and help them achieve, which is good for them and even better for Gosh! as a business.”

New facilities Though production at Gosh! runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the company realized in 2019 that it was edging towards capacity at its current facility and consequently acquired a site next door with a view to building a new factory to allow for future business growth. Despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, work began on the new production facility in June 2020 as Gosh! confidently doubled down on its growth plans, extending the lease of its current site, as well as investing in brand new machinery. “Some people thought, ‘crikey, that’s a hell of a risk’, but we are confident in where we are going and in our ability to keep growing,” David states. “It really gave our employees a massive boost at a time when they could have been feeling nervous about the pandemic and what it meant for their futures.” Currently in the late stages of construction, Gosh’s! new factory-inprogress is the result of a £5 million investment. The facility’s first equipment is set to arrive in November. “It has been quite a rush because we wanted everything in place for January when we have new products being launched,” David reports. “It is very


Gosh! Food Ltd exciting to see it coming together and taking shape. The factory will eventually have two production lines, which will mean up to 25 new jobs for the local area. It has been a 12-month project squeezed into six months, but we have made some strong, new partnerships that will benefit us in the future, so that has been good for local businesses too.”

its growth,” he asserts. “Gosh! is a great brand, so we are going to keep investing in our marketing and product development, as well as work on improving our manufacturing facilities. At the back end of this year, you will see an exciting NPD launch, with an accompanying promotional campaign, including TV advertising that takes us in a new direction. In the first quarter of 2021, our product development plans will take us into another new category and by then we will have the second site up and running. “Every year we seem to surpass the previous year in terms of exciting growth and our plan is to become more and more mainstream. We want to be one of the brands, if not the brand, that people think of first when they consider natural,

Brand investment Once the new site is up and running, Gosh! will continue to implement its stringent manufacturing process, regularly audited both internally and externally, and involving only the highest quality raw materials sourced from approved suppliers. With quality assurance built into self-checking production teams, Gosh! cultivates a shared culture of pride, passion, and ownership in the food it produces. “Our teams are all very proud of what they do,” David proclaims. “We are particularly passionate about our manufacturing process being so transparent and we are very proud of having that clean, natural label. There are a lot of products in the meat replacement market that use artificial thickeners and binders for flavoring and texture, whereas we really push how natural we are and that makes our products different and more delicious.” After being forced to react quickly to protect its staff and wider business during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, Gosh! is certainly taking nothing for granted this year, but as 2020 draws to a close, it is clear that the firm has performed well, despite the difficulties. Though there have been challenges in terms of sales performance, primarily in the foodservice channel, the company has continued to work with its partners in quickly managing and responding to these challenges in a way that only an agile business can. As a result, Gosh! is already starting to see late-year growth in its foodservice channels, whist retail continues to perform well, allowing David to make a positive, yet robust and transparent forecast for the company’s future. “Our aim is to maintain the health of the business and then continue

tasty, delicious plant- and vegetablebased products and that can only be good for the future.” D www.goshfood.com Photography credit: Ellie King in collaboration with Gosh! Food

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Naturally delicious Praised by Good Housekeeping magazine, America’s Home Test Kitchen and NBC New York, Wholly Wholesome’s range of organic, vegan and allergen-free baked goods is proof that food can be both natural and delicious Doon Wintz

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oon Wintz joined his family’s New Jersey-based baked goods business in 1987. Though the company focused primarily on conventional baked products for supermarkets in the Northeastern United States, the firm introduced the concept of natural foods to the supermarket industry in the late 1970s at the behest of Doon’s father, Bob. As far as Bob was concerned, most natural bakery products on the market tasted ‘no better than the cardboard packaging they were sold in’. It was a sentiment echoed by Doon, and in 1996, they took action, establishing The Run-ATon Group and its flagship brand, Wholly Wholesome, which aims to combine the ingredient standards of natural food devotees with the taste standards of foodies everywhere. “Wholly Wholesome was born from the idea that people should not have to sacrifice taste when they purchase something with natural or organic ingredients,” Doon states. “Okay, you don’t want to put artificial stuff in your mouth, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have any taste buds or taste desires!

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Wholly Wholesome

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Wholly Wholesome

“We started by thinking about how we could bring natural foods and baked goods together,” he continues. “Many of the ingredients in conventional baked goods were not in there because they made it easier and cheaper for manufacture, but did nothing to improve the product for the consumer. We went in and cleaned up the recipes, made them natural, and made them so you could produce them efficiently, consistently, and in volume at an industrial bakery. That is how Wholly Wholesome began. It was around the same time as Whole Foods and Wild Oats were coming into existence, so the demand was certainly there, we just had to deliver.” What started with cookies and pie shells has, over the course of 25

It’s going to be a long term arc of change, especially on the fast food side, but slowly and surely the industry is coming around. It’s great news for all of us because big companies drag the whole supply chain along with them, which means natural organic products become more plentiful, and more plentiful means more affordable

years in business, grown into a huge assortment of desserts and frozen all-natural baked goods at Wholly Wholesome. As part of its mission to craft products that everyone can enjoy, in 2014 The Run-A-Ton Group launched the Wholly Gluten Free brand, offering a natural gluten free baked goods line, headlined by their hugely popular Gluten Free/Allergy Friendly Pie Shells and Pizza Dough Balls. “The Wholly Gluten Free arm of our business came about when two of our associates, who happen to have Celiac disease, asked if we could make them a gluten free product,” Doon recalls. “As a lot of food allergies seem to go hand in hand, we decided to take things one step further and focus on creating some products that were not only gluten free, but highly allergy friendly. “After setting up a segregated allergy friendly room with a positive airflow and no chance of cross-contamination from the rest of the bakery, we were able to produce our first gluten free pie shell. Soon, we had requests for pizza dough, and so we began producing a Gluten Free Pizza Dough Ball that has gone on to be a really strong item for us. Later, we added pizza crust that hit a sales

the size of that factory, and after another year and a half, we moved into a 35,000-square foot site that we call home today. “Due to its popularity,” Doon adds, “we decided that this new product range needed a different name so that people could understand that it was a dedicated brand. We went with Wholly Gluten Free because so much of the consumer base is gluten free, but these products are actually about way more than just being gluten free. They are free of the top nine most common food allergens, as well as vegan.” Both Wholly Wholesome and Wholly Gluten Free are members of the RunA-Ton Group, a family of brands that produces great-tasting, ingredient-

benchmark in 12 months that usually takes products 36 months to achieve. “The rapid growth meant that we had to open up a new facility in 2015 because we had run out of capacity. A

and Wholly Gluten Free share many similarities in that the brands continue to find delicious, natural alternatives to the norm. “Sugar has become a pariah of sorts because some people

year and half later, we had to double

conscious foods. Other brands in the group include Unique Belgique and its range of pearl sugar Belgian waffles, MetaBall Energy Bites and its line of plant-based protein snacks, and Blissfully Better, with its organic dark chocolate creations sweetened only with organic coconut nectar.

Natural indulgences Doon, who as CEO of Run-A-Ton works across all brands, suggests that Blissfully Better, Wholly Wholesome

are concerned about what it does to your weight or are concerned that it is a toxin, so at Blissfully Better we use organic coconut nectar to sweeten chocolate instead of traditional refined sugar,” he explains. “Whilst coconut nectar is a sugar, it is among the most healthful sugars out there because it’s low glycemic, scoring only 39 on the glycemic index where 55 is deemed low, and has more vitamins and minerals than most other sweeteners. What that means is that it burns much more slowly in the body, so we get people who are diabetic looking at the product’s nutritional panel and saying, ‘Wow, I can have this.’ “We really try and stay away from things that are faddish or fakish, like sugar alcohol, which is a way to deliver sweetness without calories but is really still not what many would consider a wholesome food ingredient. We enjoy putting something out there that has five or six ingredients and tastes great,” Doon declares. “None of the stuff we do across our brands is the foundation of anybody’s trendy weight loss plan, but we are about wholesome, natural indulgences, and we believe that if you make something taste really good, with quality ingredients, it can be a great part of a balanced lifestyle.”

Delicious products For Wholly Wholesome, the success has continued throughout 2020. Covid-19 has led to a rise in demand for frozen baked goods and pizza, two areas in which the company is heavily involved, and thus the pandemic has, in this rare case, acted as a catalyst for triple digit growth. Though the firm is climbing Nielsen/IRI data charts packed with mainstream groceries, Doon argues that Wholly Wholesome’s success can actually be measured in a different way altogether. “More and more people are starting to say, ‘Hey, this is the best pie shell I’ve had, and it just happens to be organic’ or ‘it just happens to be natural’ or ‘it just happens to be kosher’. That is the real win for us, when people eat our products and say, on a primary level, this is good, and on a secondary level, it is also vegan or organic or gluten

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Wholly Wholesome free,” Doon says. “Our goal was always to produce natural baked goods that taste as good, or better, than what is available conventionally. We are proof that it is possible to make delicious food without conventional sugar, hydrogenated fats, artificial flavors or preservatives, and all those things the industry has convinced us are necessary to make something taste great.”

Product development In the years ahead, Wholly Wholesome is hoping for more strong and organic growth as it introduces new products that people can rely on and enjoy. As more consumers begin to covet natural food, and as more establishments understand the need to provide organic or allergen free alternatives, the company’s customer base continues to expand, and Doon expects Wholly Wholesome to expand with it. “We want to make every part of the business better, from sustainability, to product offerings, to profitability for ourselves, our customers, and our suppliers,” Doon vows. “We truly believe that every single relationship is symbiotic in this business and if we can honor that, and take care of our customers and our people, then we will experience more success. “The consumer base of people with allergen concerns is growing at a dramatic pace. We want to serve those customers, but even more importantly, we want to make sure that people who aren’t allergic, or don’t have food challenges, are happy to ride along with them. When a family member needs to shop for somebody with a dietary requirement, we want to make sure that they are happy eating that product too.” In terms of product development going forward, Wholly Wholesome aims to focus on center of the plate offerings, as well as natural snack alternatives. Both ranges are highly suitable for retail settings, where the company currently

long-term, food service needs to be a larger part of our business,” Doon reveals. “Lasting food trends tend to start in retail before eventually being adopted into food service. At present, universities and colleges are beginning to look at the ingredients in their food so that they can take care of the allergy friendly consumer with specific dietary needs. Fast food has also woken up to this demand and many of the market’s big players are starting to understand that consumers want cleaner label, natural alternatives. It’s going to be a long-term arc of change, especially on the fast food side, but slowly and surely the industry is coming around. It’s great news for all of us because big companies drag the whole supply chain along with them, which means natural organic products become more plentiful, and more plentiful means more affordable.” D www.whollywholesome.com

positions most of its products, but Doon also has eyes for the food service market. “We have some great food service customers and we believe that, in the

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Coca-Cola HBC Hungary

Top of the pops László Békefi - General Manager

With two plants and seven distribution centers across the country, CocaCola HBC Hungary produces, packages, and distributes some of the world’s favorite beverages

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perating as the largest bottler of Coca-Cola products in Europe, the Coca-Cola HBC AG Group encompasses 28 countries and serves more than 615 million customers. As a member of this group, Coca-Cola HBC Hungary has become one of its key regional production centers. Boasting the largest soft drink bottling plant in Hungary, as well as one of the most important domestic food-processing factories, the firm has established itself as a ‘total beverage company’, offering beverages to consumers for every occasion throughout the day. “Our portfolio is one of the broadest in the industry and includes more than 100 different products – 90 per cent of which are produced in Hungary,” explains the firm’s General Manager, László Békefi. “We expand our portfolio every year, introducing new developments, new flavors, and new presentations of existing products in the domestic market. Among the leading soft drink brands we distribute, we have Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite, Cappy, and energy drinks such as Burn, Coca-Cola

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Energy and Monster. We also distribute premium spirits, such as Jack Daniel’s, Bacardi, and Famous Grouse, as well as non-alcoholic ‘mocktail’ beverage compositions like Fluére. Beyond this, we operate cold drink-, warm drinkand snack vending machines.”

Technological developments Headquartered in Dunaharaszti, CocaCola HBC Hungary directly employs around 1050 local people, and provides jobs for nearly 13,000 people in its larger supply chain, which exists as part of the largest FMCG sales network in the country. In 2019 alone, CocaCola HBC Hungary connected with over 1240 suppliers, 1081 of which were located in its home country. Approximately 80 per cent of payments to suppliers went to local business partners, but the company also exports more than 40 different products to 26 countries. Much of Coca-Cola HBC Hungary’s continuing success can be attributed to the strong relationship it maintains with its parent company. Since the Hungarian business was founded, the Coca-Cola HBC AG Group has invested more than 120 billion Hungarian forint (Ft) into its operations. “Thanks to the investment we have received over the years, Coca-Cola HBC Hungary possesses state-of-the-art production plants, all of which have warehouses and distribution centers. These facilities help us produce products responsibly and each one is key to our profitability,” says László. “We recently benefited from a 1.8 billion Ft investment in technology unique in Central Europe, to help with the production of GLACEAU Smartwater. Previously, the technology had only been used in the UK and Netherlands, but now, we too are capable of bottling the premium product. The raw material of GLACEAU Smartwater is the mineral water of the Zalaszentgrót bottling plant from which the extraordinarily clean and fresh drink enriched with added electrolytes is made with a production process imitating cloud formation. Building on this, our goal for the future is to become the largest production base in

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Central Europe through the expansion of our production capacity and modern technological developments.” As much as Coca-Cola HBC Hungary aims to maximize its output, the firm is equally keen to minimize the environmental impact of its operations. Amongst a number of sustainability strategies it has in place, the business is proud to manufacture with green

energy; the firm’s Zalaszentgrót facility has used 100 per cent renewable electricity since 2016 and operates almost completely carbon-free. No stranger to recognition for its green efforts, in September 2020, Coca-Cola HBC Hungary picked up a Bronze Stevie Award at the International Business Awards for its World Without Waste strategy.

Responsible leader “We were incredibly proud to receive what is considered one of the industry’s most coveted prizes. It was a true honour to be singled out from over 3800 entries from 63 countries this year,” László declares. “The amount of waste generated on our planet has received increasing attention recently and we are taking part in managing the problem by implementing a comprehensive, multi-year plan that directly addresses packaging issues. This approach - World Without Waste - has a goal to collect and recycle the equivalent of a bottle or can for each one we sell by 2030. As a step towards this, we have launched a set of commitments to be achieved by 2025, designed to ensure that we drive sustainability through our entire business. These guidelines seek to make consumer packaging 100 per cent recyclable across the Group this is already true of Coca-Cola HBC Hungary - and guarantee that we source more of the total PET plastic we use from recycled PET - 35 per cent by 2025 and 50 per cent by 2030. Alongside this, we continue to reduce the weight of our bottles. Thanks to these ongoing developments, today we need 15 per cent less plastic to manufacture one PET bottle than we did in 2010. Due to some of our 2019 projects, aluminum can waste will also be reduced by 170 tons from 2020 onwards. “In summary, we believe that the most efficient method of waste management is circulation, made possible by collecting and recycling packaging waste. We are on the right path, as our pioneering packaging solutions support our global goals to work towards a World Without Waste,


Coca-Cola HBC Hungary where all packaging is collected, recycled and reused.” For Coca-Cola HBC Hungary, the firm’s sustainability goals are inseparably linked to its business goals. The company’s approach aims to maintain business success and value creation, while remaining in line with its social and environmental responsibilities. As a leading soft drink producer, bottler, and distributor, the organization is determined to lead by example as a responsible market leader. “In the summer of 2019, Coca‑Cola HBC Hungary partnered with the water management directorate and an NGO to clean the Tisza, Hungary’s second longest river,” László reports. “The Zero Waste Tisza program, supported by The Coca‑Cola Foundation through a 73 million Ft investment, focuses on continuous mitigation: collecting and recycling waste at the highest

VPK Packaging Salonta At VPK Packaging Salonta we take a hard look at the packaging that we offer as an innovative, sustainable solution for our customers. From raw materials to finished products, our solutions cover the entire value chain. Paper-based, fully recyclable and bio-degradable, in fact, corrugated packaging is one of the most recycled paper products in use today, with a well-established market for secondary raw materials. And much more, paper-based packaging offers a surface for printing high quality graphics, brand marks, images, and more to tell the brand’s story. VPK Packaging Salonta is committed to develop circular packaging solutions, to ensure optimal product protection in a sustainable flow of goods.

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level possible and cleaning the river of increasing waste. We have had three volunteer days so far, which involved more than 160 employees who collected 3.3 tons of waste from the upper Tisza regions. The preservation of our natural resources is a great opportunity to recycle waste and facilitate team building. “As a business, we regularly earn recognition for our community-focused environmental work from organizations like the International Public Relations Association, the Communitas Awards, and the Hungarian Business Leaders Forum (HBLF). We look forward to this continuing in the future.�

People power As a value-driven company, it is no surprise that Coca-Cola HBC Hungary sees its workforce as the cornerstone of its sustainable growth. Research by Ranstad ranked the business first within

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Coca-Cola HBC Hungary the domestic FMCG sector for workplace practices and the organization has also been recognized by PWC’s Excellence Awards as an ideal place for career starters. László elaborates: “The main factors behind our employees’ top performance are job satisfaction, continuous development, safety, and the creation of an attractive career path. This company provides all of those things, and it was proven throughout this year’s Covid-19 pandemic, where maintaining the safety of our colleagues and their family members was one of our main priorities, alongside saving jobs and avoiding disruption to our operations. We did everything we could to ensure the safety and health of our employees and we are very proud to have retained the jobs of everyone at the company. To top it off, we have remained available to our partners and customers at all times, despite the global challenges.”

programs, such as the Zero Waste Tisza River and #YouthEmpowered initiatives, the latter of which aims to improve the prospects of those between the ages of 18 and 30, who are ‘Not in Employment, Education, or Training’

(NEET). Furthermore, we continue to fight against food waste and highlight conscious and careful consumerism by cooperating with the Hungarian Food Bank Association.” D www.hu.coca-colahellenic.com

Sustainability commitments Year on year, Coca-Cola HBC Hungary aims to move forward, expanding on its product portfolio and developing new market innovations. Following the launch of Coca-Cola Energy in March 2019, the company recently introduced Costa Coffee products to its offering, which now includes over 100 products in more than 500 formats. In September 2020, the firm launched its latest product variation – Espresso Monster, a ready-to-drink triple shot espresso beverage. “Our company’s vision is to make further investments by 2025. We would like to establish the largest Central European production base of the CocaCola System in Hungary,” László states. “We believe that our success depends heavily on the wellbeing and strength of the communities we represent and our responsible operations demand that we react to the needs of the communities surrounding us. We stand for openness, partnership, and mutual respect everywhere we work, live, and distribute our products. We are on track to achieve our Mission 2025 sustainability commitments and we will continue to participate in volunteering

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Baked in brilliance

To ensure that it remains the best bakery brand around, Wenzel’s The Bakers invests a great deal of time, capital and resources into its products, its people and in future design

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ounded in 1975 as a single site, family run enterprise, Wenzel’s The Bakers (Wenzel’s) has since become a favorite brand of its clientele in the Northwest London area. Mixing traditional elements with up-to-date modern bakery methods, Wenzel’s believes in delivering quality products at affordable prices, and doing so via outstanding customer service.

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Wenzel’s The Bakers

“With our founder and CEO Peter Wenzel at the helm leading the company, we have experienced particularly rapid growth in the last several years,” states Wenzel’s Director and Assistant General Manager, Karl Spinks. “Today, we operate from 70 stores, in each of which we provide fresh bread, cakes, sandwiches and

hot savories to our loyal customer base, as well as produce party platters and celebration cakes for all occasions.” While Northwest London remains the company’s heartland, and is still at the core of its business activities, expansion into other territories has resulted in recent store openings in Essex, Buckinghamshire and

Hertfordshire. “We cater for a broad range of demographics, which has aided our expansion efforts,” Karl adds. “This is also reflected in our product range. We take careful consideration of this when it comes to new product developments, with lines created to meet what we feel are the desired needs of our customers.

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“The Wenzel’s brand has been built on providing consistently quality products at an affordable price. All of our products are produced with an unrivalled degree of care, passion and attention to detail, including hand finishing and moulding of all of our bread and cake goods. Every single product undergoes strict quality checks throughout the production process, and due to the amount of hand work required, all of our employees are trained to the highest of industry standards. Furthermore, all of the ingredients that go into our goods are selected by our experienced production team to reflect the quality that we – and our customers – expect from Wenzel’s!”

Site openings planned When asked to elaborate on what other factors or qualities have played their part in Wenzel’s continued success,

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the first word that springs to Karl’s mind is passion. “This is one of a number of important characteristics that run through the whole of the business, from our management team to all of our team members who operate as one big Wenzel’s family,” he enthuses. “As any sensible business would, we are always looking to our competitors to see how they are performing, however it is our desire to always stay several steps ahead of the field, both in terms of what we sell and our image.” In the case of the latter, the company has recently rebranded to include a more colorful aspect to its instore POS and packaging. Its new slogan, ‘Everyone Loves a Wenzel’s’, has been incorporated into this rebrand process, and helps to reflect the views expressed in the feedback the company regularly receives from the communities it operates within.

“We take great pride in our customer service – which is another trait that we believe has been vital to our success – and we make a concerted effort to not pitch ourselves at high price points,” Karl continues. “We consider our prices to be very reasonable for what we sell, and we are proud of that fact. At the end of the day, the demand is definitely out there for our product. Our extremely strong sales are proof of this, and this is allowing Wenzel’s to target the opening of another 20 sites in the next 12 months.” Wenzel’s has also shown itself to be a business that is not afraid to embrace change and new technology. It is this openness that has seen it forge relationships in recent times with various online delivery platforms, one of which being the corporate office catering and food delivery service, City Pantry. “Traditionally, we have focused on retail aspects with very little


wholesale or business-to-business activity, but in partnering with Uber, Deliveroo and Just Eat in various stores, we have seen the growth potential of the delivery market first hand,” Karl says. “City Pantry, being more focused on business-tobusiness services, is another avenue that we are trialing in our more central London-based stores without detracting from our core strength and concentrating on what we do best, and that’s being a very good retailer.”

Family environment As previously mentioned, Wenzel’s continues to be overseen by its founder Peter Wenzel and remains a family run business even after 45 successful years. “Wenzel’s provides a family environment for all of our team members,” Karl declares. “Particular attention is given to

Wenzel’s The Bakers

With each passing day, Wenzel’s becomes more and more aware of the social responsibility of growing businesses and how they can provide opportunities and support to local communities

Zeus

Zeus are proud suppliers of Wenzel’s Bakery, supplying their bespoke printed coffee cups, lids and printed bags since 2018. With over £200m of revenue across Ireland, UK and Europe, Zeus are manufacturers and distributors of a wide range of environmentally friendly sustainable packaging to food service and processing sector. We can offer bespoke printed environmental packaging at competitive prices, always tailored to the needs of our customer. Our stock and serve facilities enable just in time supply for your business.

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Wenzel’s The Bakers providing our people with flexible working patterns and shifts that suit everyone from students to parents and carers from all walks of life. Meanwhile, regular incentives, rewards and an emphasis on promoting a healthy working atmosphere all work towards having a highly-motivated workforce.” The togetherness and determination of the team also proved invaluable in rising to the challenges presented this year by Covid-19. “Staying ahead of the curve means a lot to us, and this mentality extends to keeping our customers and employees safe,” Karl declares. “As such, we were installing Perspex safety screens, providing masks to our teams, and installing hygiene systems prior to all of these things becoming mandatory during the pandemic.”

Community spirit Despite the considerable disruption caused across the UK – and indeed the world – by the pandemic, Wenzel’s has successfully adapted its operations and thus remain open. “From the outset, we saw that there would be high demand for essential items like bread, and after calls from customers asking us for items such as milk and flour, we introduced these into our stores as well. These were products that we did not sell before, and we have had great continued demand ever since lockdown,” Karl explains. “We have also seen slight changes in other sales areas. While bread sales have remained incredibly strong, with fewer people out working, the need for sandwiches and lunches fell slightly. However, the fact that there were no coffee shops open in our locations meant a tripling in our own coffee sales.” Going forward into 2021 and beyond, Wenzel’s has strong foundations in place for it to enjoy continued expansion. At the same time, it also has designs to go on innovating in terms of its shop design,

“With each passing day, Wenzel’s becomes more and more aware of the social responsibility of growing businesses and how they can provide opportunities and support to local communities. We are proud to support many local sports teams, food banks,

charities, schools and businesses. We also are looking at ways to reduce our carbon footprint including working with partners like ‘too good to go’, which works to avoid food waste from going to landfill,” he concludes. D www.wenzels.co.uk

while putting greater emphasis on not only service itself, but also on point of service and great displays. By way of a parting comment, Karl is also keen to highlight one final point.

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Hip hops

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Terrapin Beer With a reputation for quality, consistency, and sustainability, Terrapin Beer Company has its eyes on becoming the number one craft beer brand in the Southeast United States

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here is no shortage of character at Terrapin Beer Company, an innovative craft brewery that has, over 18 years, achieved tremendous success through its line of colorful and quirky beers. Founded in Athens, Georgia, Terrapin continues to charm beer fans with its reptilian mascot, and mysterious tales of an elusive brewer called Krunkles, but at the center of the company’s appeal is its core product. Primarily brewed at its hometown facility in Athens, Terrapin’s principal range includes its most popular beer, Hopsecutioner, a flagship American IPA that was first released back in 2009. Luau Krunkles, a POG (passionfruit, orange and guava) IPA is a close second in the popularity stakes and was one of the first of its kind in the United States. Though IPAs dominate Terrapin’s product range, the brewery also produces a variety of stouts, wheat beers, and lagers as part of an offering that is always evolving. The continuous program of innovation and product development is driven by work at the company’s second facility, the Terrapin Brew Lab.

New product development Located adjacent to Truist Park, home of Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves, the Brew Lab opened in 2017 and acts as a research and development facility for Terrapin. With a fivebarrel brewhouse, six ten-barrel fermenters, and a taproom onsite, it is the perfect setting for creating and trialing new beer creations. “It’s like a little incubator where we come up with and pilot our new ideas,” explains Terrapin’s Vice President of Operations, Jack Albanese. “Whereas we are more IPA-centric in Athens, the Atlanta Brew Lab makes a lot of beers geared towards baseball games where people want easily drinkable lagers and things like that. “It’s not just about new brands, but also new brewing innovations and technologies, whether it be hop products, hop strains, or local malts; all of that goes through the Brew Lab and the fact that it is connected to the ballpark means it is a great place to trial new beers with consumers. We’ve had a lot of beers trialed there that have gone on

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to have a mass market release. Los Bravos, our Mexican lager, started in R&D at the Brew Lab and ended up with a launch footprint-wide. The same thing happened with our hazy IPA, High and Hazy, when we noticed its popularity at the Brew Lab. “Overall, it’s a site that continues to pay off for us. We’ve got great brewers there who are able to play around and create new products, and you can then get immediate market feedback in the taproom. It’s pretty cool.”

Terrapin Tribe As a brewery at the forefront of the latest consumer tastes and trends, Terrapin aims to create products that are ahead of the curve, and the company is always on the lookout for the next big breakthrough in brewing. Along with the persisting popularity of hazy IPAs - and IPAs in general - Jack suggests that customers are currently in search of more sessionable, drinkable, low-calorie beer options. “I don’t think the better-for-you brands are going anywhere any time soon,” he asserts. “At Terrapin, we market a low-cal IPA called RecreationAle. That beer was originally a session IPA that we transformed into a better-for-you brand that is low-calorie and low-carb, and we are doing really well with it. We see that trend sticking around for a while, which is why we have got such a big push behind it.” Never afraid to try new methods and processes in search of evolution, Terrapin was the first craft brewery in Georgia to offer canned beer, and the company’s range has predominantly shifted from bottles to cans ever since. The canning line has been particularly busy in 2020 when Terrapin was forced to pivot its offering as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. After closing its taproom to protect its employees not long after the Coronavirus outbreak, Terrapin focused on its packaged and canned line of products to help weather the impact of the crisis. “We definitely had to adapt, as I’m sure most breweries did, especially with bars, sports stadiums, and music venues closing down,” Jack reports. “Keg sales became almost non-existent

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Terrapin Beer for a while, but to make up for that we ran our canning line almost 24/7, just to be able to keep up with demand. We also looked to our relationships with grocery chains and other stores. It’s certainly been an interesting year, but we did a good job being able to pivot our business and we did really well protecting our employees. In particular, we kept our whole workforce employed, which is a huge success, and something that I think shows the strength of our company values.” It’s no surprise that, during a difficult year for businesses across the globe, Terrapin looked first to the safety and security of its employees. Known affectionately as the ‘Terrapin Tribe’, the brewery’s workforce contains a substantial number of longtenured team members, including Jack himself, who has been with the business since 2012 when he joined as Quality Assurance Manager. With

a strong company culture focusing on sustainability, operational excellence, and being ‘local’ wherever it goes, Jack is proud to be part of a business that ‘really tries to live its values’. “I have been here eight years now and have been given the opportunity to grow within the business,” Jack states. “Our President, Dustin Watts, was one of the company’s first hires, and our Co-Founder, Spike, is still here too. When you see a company that has those people sticking around, it helps you understand that the culture of that company is in the right place. It’s an environment where we want to nurture talent, build from within, and be a truly sustainable business.

Pall Food and Beverage Terrapin Beer Company is a partner with Pall Corporation as we provide them filtration solutions for their craft beer product lines. Our PROFI Craft System has improved the efficiency of their filtration process and helped in efforts to reduce water and energy use as well as improved the health and safety of their brewing operations.

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“We look at sustainability in a couple of different ways at Terrapin,” Jack adds. “It’s about sustainability for the company, meaning self-sufficiency and having the right people in the right places, but also sustainability in terms of the environment too. That’s really where our Terraprint initiative comes in.”

Quality & consistency As a company, Terrapin describes Terraprint as ‘the impact the company has on the environment and its community’. It is an initiative that Jack says has grown organically as the brewery has expanded, and it has led to the installation of technologies like a waste water pre-treatment facility in Athens. “As we were touring people around the brewery we would mention how we had installed a filtration unit that reduced an entire waste stream to landfill,

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Terrapin Beer for us to let people know that that’s the kind of company Terrapin is.” Having started in 2002 as a brewery producing 200 barrels of beer a year, Terrapin is now aiming to produce 100,000 barrels annually. In total, across the 18 years that the brewery has been in operation, more than 600,000 barrels of beer have passed through the site. By no means ready to slow down production, Terrapin is planning another expansion at its Athens location in 2022, when the company will celebrate its 20th anniversary. The development will see the introduction of another canning line and additional fermentation equipment to help further increase the brewery’s capacity. Already present in 22 states in the US, Terrapin’s investment will not only improve the company’s chances of becoming the number one craft beer brand in the Southeast, but it will also help the

brewery expand its geographic footprint and export beer into Central America and the Caribbean. “Terrapin has grown every year it’s been in existence and we’re not looking to stop anytime soon,” Jack proclaims. “One of the biggest compliments I get from our customers is that they can really trust our brand when it comes to quality and consistency and that’s something that has helped us stick around. “Thanks to strong leadership and great partners like Pall Corporation and Athens’ own Jittery Joe’s, we’ll continue to innovate and be first to market with exciting new products. No matter what, we will persevere in our attempts to be as local as we can, everywhere we are, in terms of making sure that everybody who wants to get their hands on Terrapin beer is able to get their hands on as much of it as they can.” D www.terrapinbeer.com

or how our spent grain was going to local farmers, or becoming compost and eventually returning, full-circle, back to the brewery,” Jack recalls. “The people would look at us bug eyed and say, ‘Hey, we had no idea you were doing that. Tell us more.’ That’s how Terraprint grew. “We eventually identified four pillars from an environmental standpoint water, energy, soil, and resource - and every time we look to expand or improve operations, we turn towards those tenets to see how we can lessen our impact on the environment. It has really been a good guide for us in terms of how we have built over the years and helping us tell that story to people. It’s important

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Southern hospitality Obsessed with the tastes and traditions of the Deep South, Hickory’s Smokehouse has spent the last decade introducing true southern hospitality to guests in the UK

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his year – 2020 – marks the tenth birthday of Hickory’s Smokehouse (Hickory’s). What began as a single restaurant in Chester, serving authentic barbecue style food inspired by the tastes of the American Deep South, has since gone on to become a group of 11 establishments across the North West of England and the Midlands. The inspiration behind Hickory’s actually came about when its founder – Neil McDonnell – embarked upon what was a fairly haphazard trip across the southern states of America, during which time he made sure to eat at every barbecue joint that he could find, soaking up the passion of the South. “It was this melting pot of cultures and characters that Neil encountered that inspired him,” confirms Hickory’s Executive Chef Director, Rob Bacon. “He quickly fell in love with the Deep South, particularly its attitude towards food, drink and unbridled southern hospitality, and he knew that he had to share what he had discovered.” Upon returning to the UK, Neil set out to scour the North West for a location that he felt would bring the concept he had in mind to life and do justice to his

Hickory’s Smokehouse

We travel to the southern states each year to get new inspiration. Last year, a team of eight including General Managers and Head Chefs travelled to South Carolina. There they spent time with pitmasters, bar tenders and owners, and brought back ideas that our chefs and bar team have developed into new menu items, such as Collard Greens, Charleston Banana Pudding, and Irish Coffee. Today, our menu is testament to the 18 trips and 70 cities we have visited over the last decade and more ideas. What he found was a neglected road-side building that would require a lot of love and passion to turn it around. Fortunately, that is what it received and a year to the day after he returned from his overseas trip, the first Hickory’s Smokehouse opened its doors to guests. Hickory’s menu has been carefully built around its smokers, with its smokehouse dishes being far and away the most popular with its guests. “Our pitmasters have been trained in the art of barbecue, and have spent time with some of the best and proudest in the South learning how to get it right,” Rob states. “Our Texas style brisket has been smoked ‘low ‘n’ slow’ for 16 hours. We have learnt how to smoke, carve and eat brisket the right way, and it’s a popular choice for our guests. “Our most popular dish though has to be The Smokehouse Platter. It is packed with

all the smokehouse classics – grainfed Texas style brisket, Memphis style baby back ribs, BBQ baby back ribs, hand pulled pork, eight-hour smoked Jacob’s Ladder, bourbon glazed chicken wings and our smoked pork, jalapeno and cheese sausage. It’s the ultimate smokehouse experience and when our guests can’t decide what to have it’s the perfect choice! “Guests love our appetisers too and we have introduced lots of guests to Frickles, Burnt Ends and Corn Dogs over the years. Alongside the Smokehouse, we’ve got an incredible selection of burgers. For instance, the Go Big or Go Home is packed with beef patties, southern fried chicken, streaky bacon and bourbon glazed brisket and guests love it. We’ve found that our guests love to try something different too. The Chicken Fried Waffle – a freshly made waffle topped with southern fried chicken, maple candied bacon and its own jug of syrup – is a real crowd pleaser

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and the 3am Mac – a classic mac ‘n’ cheese topped with buttermilk marinated southern fried chicken, bacon crumb and maple syrup – also has a following of its own.”

Truly authentic Hickory’s sources all of its ingredients from well established, accredited suppliers whom it has established great working relationships with over the years. These suppliers work very closely with the business to meet its needs, whether it be for imported grain-fed brisket, or the best head of crisp fresh lettuce. “We forward buy in the market as much as possible to ensure we get our name on the best possible produce,” Rob explains. “This is a part of what makes our food in the first place, and ensures we stay authentic.” Rob continues: “It is so important to us that we get everything right for barbecue enthusiasts and smokehouse fans. They understand what barbecue perfection is, what the pink band of colour is on the meat and how it’s a sign of truly authentic barbecue. However, it is equally important that Hickory’s appeals to everyone. We are a family friendly restaurant and we treat every guest like an old friend who we welcome into our home, or as we say ‘from no teeth to false teeth’. Family time is so important, and we have tried to think about our smaller guests too. For them, we have cinema rooms and popcorn, plus safe and secure outside areas with ping pong at many of our restaurants. So, mum and dad can sit back and relax knowing the kids are also having a great time. “We equally welcome groups of friends – whether for a meal, a drink at the bar, or to join us to watch sport. Sunday’s nights are dedicated to the NFL, and we have grown a loyal following over the past ten years. Our bars are a real neighbourhood hub, and we have got lots of guests who join us weekly for a drink after work. At any one time, you could have a family enjoying dinner, a couple on a date, a group of friends having a catch up or an extended family celebrating a birthday. It is this mix of occasions – alongside the great food and drink, and southern hospitality of our team – that see our guests coming back.” For Hickory’s, it is obvious that authenticity is absolutely key, and indeed it makes up one of its five ‘star values’, alongside community, daring, welcoming and passion. “Authentic starts with our smokers,” Rob adds. “Our custom smokers take up to 12 weeks to ship from the United States. Our Ole Hickory smokers come from Missouri, whilst our Southern Pride hail from Texas and they settle right into the heart of our restaurants. “We travel to the southern states each year to get new inspiration. Last year, a team of eight including General Managers and Head Chefs travelled to South Carolina. There they spent time with pitmasters, bar

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Hickory’s Smokehouse tenders and owners, and brought back ideas that our chefs and bar team have developed into new menu items, such as Collard Greens, Charleston Banana Pudding, and Irish Coffee. Today, our menu is testament to the 18 trips and 70 cities we have visited over the last decade and more.” People are also at the heart of Hickory’s success, and as Rob reveals, without the hard work, talent, creativity and passion of its workforce, the business would not exist. “The team have all been hand-picked, not because of fancy CV’s or impressive qualifications, but because they have great personalities and embody the qualities we love. Sometimes quirky, always fun and with a spark that can be developed; this personality first approach is what helps us show growth and gain such great guest feedback. “We like to do things a bit differently, and our team development is no exception. Our teams have access to all the official accreditations they need to undertake their roles, but it is our commitment to immersing our team in the taste, smells and sounds of southern hospitality that really set them apart. Also, with an inhouse training team and over 60 bespoke courses, last year we have even created our very own Hickory’s Academy. We see every team member as part of the Hickory’s family, which means that we support each other, and that couldn’t be truer than over this past year.”

our guests to join us. We developed our Safety Pledge that covered all the changes we committed to, from building Southern Sanitiser Stations in all our restaurants, socially distancing all our tables to heightening all our cleaning processes. What was key to all of this was making sure that the Hickory’s experience wasn’t impacted, and we have received great feedback from our guests that they’ve been able to enjoy dining and drinking with us, that our team have welcomed them and that we haven’t lost that personal touch to technology.” Looking ahead to 2021, as well as hoping to have all of its restaurants open and in full swing as soon as is safely possible, the business also intends to improve and strength its recently launched Hickory’s At Home offering. Born out of the first Covid-19 lockdown, this next day delivery service allows customers to order their barbecue online

and heat at their convenience at home. Already proving itself very popular, Rob believes that there is a great deal more potential in the concept yet. “When you think about it, we haven’t even scratched the surface yet with Hickory’s At Home, what with the options of NFL Wing Nights, a special Superbowl Box, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, the list is endless and we envisage having a lot of fun with it. From merchandise to sauces and rubs, it has so much to offer. “We also intend to look to restart our growth plans with the opening of our newest restaurant in Wilmslow, a venue we had to put on hold due to Covid-19, but that we are itching to have opened. It is in a fantastic area with a great local community who we can’t wait to welcome for some Hickory’s-style southern hospitality, and hopefully we will get back on track to our pre-Covid-19 plans of opening three-to-four restaurants a year.” D www.hickorys.co.uk

At home offer The past year, of course, cannot accurately be reflected upon without mentioning the Covid-19 pandemic and the disruption it has forced on people’s everyday lives. For Hickory’s, a huge challenge involved how it would respond to the nationwide lockdown that began in March 2020. “During lockdown, we worked hard to keep the brand alive, which for us meant playing our part in the local community and helping those less fortunate than us,” Rob reveals. “We are very lucky to be based in such wonderful communities, and along with our team and guests we set up an appeal to support our dedicated charity, Cash For Kids. “We worked really hard behind the scenes too preparing to reopen and key to us was making sure that Hickory’s was a safe place for our team to work and for

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Trust in plants N

Founded by a son on a mission to ease his Papa’s back pain, Papa & Barkley is now the leading cannabis wellness brand in California

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amed after Papa and the family’s loyal pit bull, Barkley, the company creates highly effective, natural products that unlock the healing potential of the cannabis plant. All products are made using solventless, whole plant infusion processes with cannabis and hemp flowers cultivated in the United States and produced in the company’s licensed, state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities. One of the foundation stones of Papa & Barkley is its total dedication to quality, clean products. This process begins at the farm – the company chooses to work with farmers who it describes as ‘stewards of the land’. Cannabis is a bioaccumulator if it’s cultivated with pesticides or soil full of toxins and heavy metals, it affects the quality of the plants. Therefore, Papa & Barkley ensures that its plants are grown using native soil, organic principles, and regenerative farming practices, as these are all essential steps in creating end products that are of the highest, cleanest, quality levels. Another important aspect of the growth of the plants is the use of the

most natural source of energy – the sun. This leaves a smaller impact on the environment, and lets the plant work its magic all on its own. When it comes to the final stage, the processing, Papa & Barkley uses a proprietary, solvent-free, whole plant infusion process, because it believes that processing the plant correctly is key to the purity of the end product. Its base oils are made by slow-cooking the plant at low temperatures, using only heat, water, and pressure to infuse the oil. Think of it like fresh-squeezed orange juice versus an orange-flavored drink — the whole plant infusion maintains the integrity of the plant and makes the end products clean and effective. This gentle process means that products from Papa & Barkley are an earthy, green color because they contain the full, natural profile of the plant including chlorophyll, valuable phytonutrients, cannabinoids, terpenes, and natural plant matter. Having made such efforts with the growth of the finest source material, Papa & Barkley then goes to great lengths to ensure its supporting


Papa & Barkley ingredients – from coconut and MCT oil to essential oils and beeswax – all are made using organic principles with no residual chemicals. Such is the dedication of Papa & Barkley to the pedigree of its products that the company goes far beyond the regulations mandated by the State to ensure its formulations are of a higher standard and as uncontaminated as possible. Its products are consistent and triple-tested at key points for 66 pesticides, five microbials, and ten residual solvents. It tests the input cannabis from the farm, again after it’s blended, and finally, the packaged product is tested. Every Papa & Barkley product is certified by state and national standards with a third party tested Certificate of Analysis (COA). The end result of this hard work is a wide range of products that are offered in different formulas, to address a variety of needs, from sleep disturbances to mobility. The product range, which include balms, capsules, lotions, oils and drops, features products utilizing the natural benefits of Cannabidiol (CBD). A naturally-occurring compound called phytocannabinoids, CBD is found in the flowers of the hemp plant, and is a strong anti-inflammatory ingredient that provides an effective option for everyday relief. Papa & Barkley’s skincare line – which includes the Releaf Body Lotion, Releaf Repair Cream, and Releaf Body Oil CBD— introduces CBD into the body topically. Various research shows that topical CBD oil can be an effective method to combat chronic discomfort. From joint health to normal inflammation, studies have found that topical CBD oil can be very efficient for providing relief. There are two key ways that topical CBD oil works to fight discomfort. First, the oil contains what are called endocannabinoids, or body signals that help end users notice and manage various functions, including aches and pains. CBD naturally raises the endocannabinoids in the body, helping to relieve minor twinges. Second, CBD helps limit the body’s inflammatory response when there is

a chronic condition or just temporary minor aches. The results of topical CBD are typically felt within minutes, and can last anywhere from two to four hours. When applied topically, CBD does not reach the bloodstream, so comfort is localized where applied, without intoxication. Having originated from founder Adam Grossman’s kitchen and his experiments with a homemade balm, the story of how Papa & Barkley was created and the results that have been

discovered on this journey are truly inspirational. Having embraced both nature and science, Papa & Barkley created its own full-spectrum infusion process, and a set of principles that sets it apart. Adam and his team believe that the Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) plant has the potential to do immense good in the world and through its actions and products, Papa & Barkley is setting a precedent for the future of the industry. D www.papaandbarkley.com

muscle soreness due to exercising or lifting weights. By working with the natural functions in the body, CBD eases hurt muscles and helps make users more comfortable, whether they are dealing with

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