According to a recent report by the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD), there is an increasing trend in the grocery market towards lower-cost healthy food shopping. This is supported by a growing tendency among shoppers to place more importance on ethical and environmental factors in what they buy and where they choose to shop.
Recognising these trends is clearly becoming increasingly important to food and drink retailers, so online surplus healthy food retailer Food Circle Supermarket seem handily placed to offer health, and environmentally conscious consumers an ideal solution.
South Yorkshire born and bred Co-Founders Paul Simpson and James Barthorpe, started the business in 2017 after three years working in the food and drink industry, where they recognised the scale of food waste.
James (26) explains: “Our background is in Business Development at one of the UK’s largest surplus food re-distributors, and it was while working there that Paul and I noticed surpluses in the healthy and “free-from” food market were lacking an ideal outlet. A number of organisations re-distribute food but we felt that specifically in healthy food and drink, the supply was out of sync with where the demand lies. Our solution was to target that demand by creating an online store, so we could ensure this food reaches people who really want it rather than ending up as waste.”
Food Circle Supermarket retails their products at a lower price than in supermarkets to ensure that these products fulfil their original purpose of being consumed, rather than wasted.
The combination of saving food from waste while saving people money looks to be a compelling proposition; “We hope to help people by offering a lower cost option to access some of their favourite healthy food products, and to help our environment by stopping as much of this food as possible from being wasted”.
Because they source surplus products directly from manufacturers that may otherwise be wasted, supply isn’t always consistent, but they can pass on significant savings, sometimes in excess of 50% off the RRP to the consumer.
“The twist is that we specialise in retailing surplus food and drink – product that is in-date and perfectly wholesome, but may be destined for disposal because of a fluctuation in retail forecasting, seasonal demand changes, changes to packaging design, or simply slow-selling or short-dated stock. Much of this stock goes to waste within the food supply chain before it even has a chance to make it out of the factory gates into a retail depot.”
“It’s a very simple and in many ways self-policing concept”, Paul summarises. “We are very clear and open with everyone through from manufacturers to the end consumers that we are a surplus food retailer. Brand owners like what we do because we’re never claiming to be operating in the same space as the major retailers. They recover some cost on what they essentially see as waste products, and our shoppers know that they are buying something that they may never see in stock with us again. But we give them an opportunity to do their bit for the environment and save some money too – everybody wins!”
The business is already working with high-profile brands and manufacturers such as Nakd, Trek, Pulsin and Grenade (sports nutrition), and hopes to build on its manufacturing partnerships and its consumer base in the forthcoming months.
Connecting with Eparcels
rowing retailers will inevitably reach a point where label processing becomes too time-consuming and the desire for lowering business overheads takes its toll. James continued: ”Having been recommended Eparcels by a company in the same sector, and discovering that Eparcels had a depot in Dinnington, South Yorkshire (literally down the road from our Rotherham warehouse), we were sold on their ‘pooled-volume’, multi-carrier approach and made an enquiry.
“Naturally we needed to offer cost-effective delivery options to match our discounted food offering. Eparcels has been a lot more cost-effective than working directly with premium carriers and their strengthened carrier relationships have paid dividends. Having a range of delivery options to offer our customers at our disposal, such as UK Mail next day, Yodel Xpress 24 hours (weekdays only) and Hermes Standard delivery (within 3 working days) – customers can decide for themselves rather than being forced to select a single premium option.
“Being able to manage all of these carrier options via a single interface, and only having to deal with a single monthly invoice has saved us plenty of time, enabling us to better focus on increasing brand exposure and maintaining relationships with our growing range of suppliers. Furthermore, the Eparcels customer support team are highly proactive and are always on hand to respond to any issues that may arise”.
Customers can visit their website and add the products they want to their basket for home delivery – just like any normal online shop – and can also take advantage of “pre-set” bundle deals which offer convenience and further discounts, as well as guaranteed free delivery.
James concluded: “In the future we would like to expand our product range, go into temperature controlled products and operate on a much larger scale.”