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BOOM Awards entry is free to small businesses

Recognising the major challenges and disruptions faced due to COVID-19, Soil Association Certification is offering small businesses free entry to the BOOM Awards (Best of Organic Market)

The offer is open to SA-certified businesses with organic sales under £250,000 and limited to two free entries per business.

Back for a fourth year, the BOOMs – the UK’s only organic awards – are expanding to celebrate excellence across organic farming, beauty & wellbeing, fashion & textiles as well as food & drink, reflecting the range of organic-certified businesses working to restore nature, health and a safe climate.

The Awards are partnered by Ocado and associate sponsor is Yeo Valley. There are also various category sponsors.

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Judges order lockdown insurance pay-outs

Retailers whose insurers refused to pay out for business interruption during lockdowns have been handed a lifeline.

Thousands of small business will receive pay-outs following a Supreme Court ruling which could cost the insurance sector hundreds of millions of pounds.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) brought a test case in which eight insurers agreed to take part in proceedings.

One of the insurers set to make significant pay-outs is Hiscox, which was challenged by 30,000 policyholders as part of the case. Other insurers involved in the test case were Arch, Argenta, MS Amlin, QBE and RSA, but as many as 60 insurers sold similar products. They will now pay out on many of the policies.

Huw Evans, director general of the Association of British Insurers, said: "All valid claims will be settled as soon as possible and in many cases the process of settling claims has begun.”

The Financial Ombudsman Service and courts in Scotland and Northern Ireland are expected to use the judgment to rule on other similar cases with policies predating the first lockdown.

NAHS climbs aboard rates campaign

The National Association of Health Stores has teamed up with a campaign to axe business rates until next year.

It has joined the British Independent Retailers’ Association campaign, pointing out that retailers should not have to face the reintroduction of business rates in April when lockdowns continue to seriously damage business.

Meanwhile, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in January that 600,000 retail, hospitality and leisure sites will be able to claim a one-off grant of up to £9,000. This will cost the Treasury £4.6bn.

He also also announced a further £594m for local authorities and devolved administrations.

Footfall across the UK dropped 46.1% in the five weeks to January 2, according to BRC-ShopperTrak. High streets were the worst performing location for retailers during December. London was the hardest hit, with footfall down 58%.

Weleda is 100

After a century of pioneering ethical and sustainable practices in the production of natural cosmetics and medicines, Weleda is celebrating its 100th year. The company is marking this major milestone with a year-long series of virtual and real events inspired by the garden, which is where the story of Weleda began and which remains at the heart of the brand today.

Foodbank champ

A Fife medical herbalist is reaching out to people in need during lockdown by offering online mini-consultations for a minimum donation of £5 to local foodbanks.

Keren Brynes MacLean (pictured), who owns the practice at Health Food and More in Kirkcaldy, says she isn’t able to offer in person consultations under lockdown, but she’s seen a marked rise in the need for help with mental health issues.

HayMax does Cress

HayMax, the allergen barrier balm, has moved its warehousing and fulfilment to Cress Natural Products ( and has tasked the company to manage HayMax sales to the independent channels. The move marks a major step in the development of this long-established British brand, giving a better service to independents and enabling further expansion in other countries.

Take a break, Mike

Mike Abrahams of Wild Oats, Bristol, has taken a step back so he can finally enjoy retirement.

With Mike are three of the new team, (L-R) HR manager Don Dickinson, Mike Abrahams, retail operations manager Heather Stephens and store manager Alicia Stephens.

Help in a crisis

Buckinghamshire-based NKD Living has partnered with Crisis UK to help raise awareness of the homelessness charity’s work. On top of setting a fundraising target, NKD Living founders Dr Samuel West and Sophie West also plan to volunteer at one of the charity’s Skylight centres later in the year. NKD Living specialises in natural sugar replacements as well as low-carb baking supplies.

Spotlight on Bristol

Bristol Bites Back Better is a campaign empowering Bristolians to create a more sustainable food system while celebrating the city’s food diversity.

In a bid to spark positive action and change, the campaign provides individuals, communities, organisations and food businesses with a way to access information, share ideas and hear food-related stories from across the city.

Sponsored by Essential Trading, GENeco and Lovely Drinks, several organisations including the city council have combined with the goal of seeing Bristol recognised as a Gold Sustainable Food City this Spring.

Read the full story here...

Planet Organic goes nationwide

London-based Planet Organic introduced nationwide delivery for all its products in time for Christmas.

This included hundreds of unique and exclusive goods from keto donuts to London-brewed kombuchas and kefirs, as well as more traditional organic groceries such as eggs and fresh fruit and vegetables.

The original organic supermarket chain has long offered online shopping, but this is the first time the range has been made available for delivery nationwide.

Planet Organic currently serves the capital through its 11 London stores. Now it gets to meet the national demand for natural and organic health food by distributing the entirety of its range across the country with a chosen-day fulfilment service.

“Our customers outside London frequently ask for nationwide delivery on our fresh food and drink range, from kombucha to organic fruit and veg,” says CEO Peter Marsh (pictured).

“We’ve invested heavily in digital, digital marketing and fulfilment logistics as well as in the packaging solutions and the recycling systems put in place around them.”

Planet Organic delivery uses a combination of Forestry Commission-certified card, recycled papers, compostable bio plastics and wool insulation materials, all of which can be recycled domestically or collected by the retailer for reuse. Crucially, there’s no need for refrigerated vans.

For chilled product packaging, Planet Organic uses sheep’s wool insulation liners and pouches along with water-filled ice packs, all made by Woolcool, all reusable and ultimately recyclable.

The wool used is a waste product from the food industry and has not been treated with chemicals, making it suitable for composting. Planet Organic will reuse and recycle wool liners and ice packs, and has set up a customer returns scheme.

Natural cosmetics get a new standard

The NATRUE Standard for natural and organic cosmetics has been updated to make it an even more valuable asset for consumers and beauty manufacturers alike.

Sustainability is an essential cornerstone for new product development, so NATRUE has incorporated additional requirements to ensure that respect for people, the environment and biodiversity is addressed.

As a new member of the Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil, the NATRUE marque requires that natural or derived natural substances from palm oil and palm kernel oil must come from RSPO or other certified sustainable supply chains. All raw materials presently used in NATRUE-certified products will have a transitional period of 24 months (until 31 January 2022) to be either certified or approved.

For finished products, producers have until the end of January 2024 to formulate their products using NATRUE-approved or NATRUE-certified raw materials.

NATRUE has simplified its three certification levels to just two: natural or organic. In line with this decision, NATRUE has adapted the formulation requirements in the standard to facilitate innovation and development while ensuring that natural and organic product claims remain authentic and meet consumer expectations.

Products already certified under the phased-out certification level ‘natural with organic portion’ can still be identified as such in the market and in NATRUE’s database until the product’s certificate expires. Upon recertification, a product meeting the requirements of level ‘natural with organic portion’ will be recertified either as ‘natural’ or ‘organic’, subject to its compliance with the set requirements for each level of certification.

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