This comes a little later than planned but over the Christmas break I took some time to reflect on the year that was and what is to come for Liberation in 2022.
To say the least, 2021 was a whirlwind of activity and changes for the Liberation team. It was intense, at times stressful, but overall, really exciting and feels like last year moved us into a new phase as a business and brand.
The materialisation of the new-look was a central focus throughout 2021 and it was with great pride that we closed the year with an identity that feels attractive, modern and competitive within the market.
Nobody in the team previously had any background knowledge of relaunching a brand so it involved a lot of feeling and sensing our way through! But seeing it come to fruition, having a base of attractive products to build up, a smoothly navigable website and a more defined direction for the business to take, made the trials and tribulations all worth it! It’s been a big piece of work and a learning experience for us all. I should say a special thanks to Studio Look At That! and Rascality for all the work on this!
We chose a soft launch for this new stage of development, unveiling the new-look in an understated but noteworthy way, coinciding with COP26.We donated the first 2,600 rebranded products to the brilliant Toast Companion series boxes, a collective project that was launched to highlight the importance of collaboration at a critical moment in world history, with money also being raised for Rainforest Trust and Soil Heroes. It felt like a good fit for a first run of the new product, in line with Liberation’s ethos and values and, despite the somewhat disappointing outcome from the summit, it was a positive reminder of what small, independent businesses and social enterprises are all about.
2021 also saw an(other) office move, staying within the fantastic Ethical Properties sites but downsizing, cutting costs and really committing to the flexible working that Covid inflicted on us. There were big goodbyes and warm welcomes within the team, including the creation of a whole new role of Logistics Coordinator to support an increasingly busy operations team.
Whilst these changes have been going on, bubbling away in the background was the usual purchasing of nuts and dried fruits from smallholder farmers. By October we had sold 411,275kg of cashews, peanuts, Amazonian nuts (aka Brazil nuts) and raisins, with targets for the end of the year set to excel that of previous years. We don’t yet have the exact figures for how much Fairtrade Premium has been paid out to the farming communities we work but the more nuts sold the more we give back.
So, what next?! Already into the last week of January it is clear that 2022 is going to fly by, and I know this year will be no less busy for the Liberation team.
With the brand now sitting comfortably and confidently within the market competition, the focus has already shifted to unpicking our impact as a business, looking into how to better monitor and evaluate our activity, how to strategise and act on making meaningful improvements and how to expand and strengthen our networks so that we can broaden our knowledge base, expertise and ultimately our capabilities to create impact.
I know that Liberation already has ethical investment, transparent supply chains, good governance and a valuable food system model but we are not very good at monitoring it, and, as Kate Sandle from B Corp recently said, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure”. In fact, it is a logical next step for us to make the B Corp application and we plan to move on this as soon as possible...a daunting and propelling challenge.
To begin this process of analysis and development for the business, we have identified an initial 3 Sustainable Development Goals to use as a jumping off point for some short- and medium-term developments. We have already outlined action points for the business to get moving on as we speak, and I’d like to share some of them:
SDG 2 Zero Hunger:
- Supporting our major shareholder, the International Nut Cooperative, to expand their membership of smallholder farming coops and diversify the number of commodities we are buying from them.
- Investing in more value-added products, cutting out additional third parties and ensuring farming communities receive the most value possible whilst strengthening the horizontal supply chain model and cutting carbon emissions.
- Supporting local charities to fight food poverty in the UK through supplying them with nutritious plant-based foods.
SDG 12 Responsible Consumption and Production:
- Setting targets to reduce the weight of our packaging to minimise waste and researching alternative, more dynamic product design options.
- Tightening up the measurement, monitoring and evaluation of our impact as a business, including producing an in-depth annual sustainability report.
- Committing to entering any waste products into the circular economy, whether it be electronic goods or food waste.
SDG 13 Climate Action:
- Setting clear targets for reducing our carbon footprint reduction through identifying further opportunities to consolidate and become efficient in distribution.
- Paying carbon offsetting for unavoidable air and road miles to a suitable cause.
- Developing a range of organic and carbon neutral products.
There will also be new Liberation branded products available very soon, an ecommerce platform on our brand-new website will be an exciting opportunity for us to connect directly with consumers and new partnerships and collaborations both here in the UK and with farming communities on other continents.
There is far more in the pipeline, and I look forward to sharing more as the year goes on!