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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.

“With Bristol Bites Back Better, we’re inviting everyone in the city to explore how food can make our lives and our city better and to hear from communities across the city about how they’re using food to get through these times,” says Deputy Mayor, Councillor Asher Craig.

Caring and sharing

Redistribution charity FareShare South West is getting food supplies to the people who need it most, including 300 schools, charities and community groups across Bristol and the South West.

Saving tonnes of quality in-date surplus food, enough to create more than 4m meals last year, school breakfast clubs, elderly people’s lunch clubs, domestic violence refuge centres, homeless shelters and drug and alcohol rehabilitation units are the beneficiaries.

Supporting these efforts are the likes of local wholesaler Essential Trading, which provided 2.6 tonnes of food last year, equating to 6000 meals. Much of this enabled vegetarian options as well as culturally appropriate foods.

Donated food includes bulk ingredients for manufacturing, packaging errors, seasonal stock, stock created by incorrect forecasting and foreign label stock.

Not so much on the wild side...

December wasn’t great for Bristol’s popular health food store Wild Oats, with on average 1500 fewer in-store transactions month on month compared to the previous year.

A good thing then that the store had been developing its online shop soon after the pandemic struck last year.

“The e-commerce side of the business has expanded and sales have so far doubled month on month since we launched, clearly helped by the Christmas period,” says director Timothy Scarfe.

“We are slowly expanding the range online to try to match the extensive selection we hold in-store as well as a variety of online-only exclusives.

“The reach of the e-commerce platform has been wide reaching and we are now shipping a lot of products all over the UK, while our online ordering and local delivery service has seen a huge expansion.

Although celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the business founded by Mike Abrahams isn’t looking back.

“We are always looking ahead, always looking at how best to move the business forward and how to improve various facets of the store,” says Timothy. “But at the moment we, like the rest of the world, are having to react to the various changes and restrictions. So any planning has been placed on hold until we can be assured of a more certain future on the high street.

“As an essential service we have continued to trade. But we are continually adapting to ensure the safety of both our staff and customers, and have reduced the number of customers allowed in-store at one time.

“Having stopped serving a variety of products in an attempt to limit the contact between staff and customers, we have obviously seen a decline in sales in those areas. In terms of products, our supplements department continues to see growth, and the sales of vitamins D and C continue to lead to the way, along with iron and personal care.”

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