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12 October 2023

Unveiling the Hidden Sustainability of Wales’s Beloved Food and Drink Brands

Welsh food and drink brands are going above and beyond, surpassing expectations as they tackle waste and promote sustainability in ways that extend beyond what their labels might suggest. 

Picking up a coffee, cracking open a craft beer, or grabbing some spuds from the supermarket might be doing more for the planet than you think. Although it might not be plastered across the eco-conscious packaging, some of Wales’s most loved food and drink brands are setting the foundations for Wales to become one of the most environmentally and socially responsible supply chains in the world.

With the help of Welsh Government’s Decarbonisation and Covid Recovery Challenge Fund, environmentally conscious businesses across Wales are leading the charge in a bid to tackle waste and drive environmental sustainability within the Welsh food and drink sector.

Ammanford-based speciality coffee roastery Coaltown was one of the first coffee companies in the UK to gain B Corp certification. With a commitment to ethical sourcing and sustainable production, they are driving innovative green practices that benefit both coffee lovers and the industry. Their bags of coffee are fully compostable, leftover coffee is donated as compost to local gardening groups, their roastery is run on 100% renewable energy – further enhanced by capturing the heat and waste from their processing activities – and even the roasters’ uniforms are made using ethically sourced, organic cotton.

Their latest Coaltown project is now utilising waste heat from the coffee roasting process to generate usable electricity.

“It is very much an experimental project, and its main objective is to prove the concept and viability of the technology when applied to coffee roasting equipment,” says Gordon James, Technical Director at Coaltown Coffee. 

Another Welsh beverage brand committed to driving sustainable practices in Wales and beyond is fellow B Corp Drop Bear Beer Co. Wales’s first B Corp brewery is one of less than 10 in the UK and is also the world’s first female-run, carbon-neutral, alcohol-free craft brewery. Aside from creating popular alcohol-free craft beers, Drop Bear Beer Co is also committed to building a better world to enjoy them. Sales of their craft beers – which are housed in environmentally-conscious cans – have helped the brand to support over 50 global sustainability initiatives and to plant over 2,000 trees.

“We don’t have time to just say, ‘oh, in 10 years’ time, maybe we’ll look at this,” says Joelle Drummond, Co-Founder of Drop Bear Beer Co “The time is now.”

Local initiatives are also being supported by these practices, too. Wales is home to many popular vineyards – and they too are doing their bit for the environment. Sticle Vineyard in Carmarthenshire is driving zero-waste wineries in Wales, investing in research and development to eliminate all waste generated in the process of making and promoting wine.

“Thinking local is a big factor in sustainability,” says Christiane Racine of Sticle Vineyard. “[Through our research] the Welsh vineyards wishing to decarbonise and implement sustainable practices to Zero-Waste in their Wine Estate now have a step-by-step approach to do so.”

Monmouthshire-based vineyard Ancre Hill Estates is also pioneering new sustainable biodynamic and organic viticulture methods, tools, and natural solutions to protect the soil, the vines, and the grape crops without having to use environmentally damaging chemicals and processes. And when it comes to diversification, Pant Du vineyard in Snowdonia is expanding its product line to include apple cider vinegars in a bit to eliminate waste from the wine making process.

And then there’s the humble spud. More than just a potato, Puffin Produce (the Pembrokeshire brand behind the Blas Y Tir veggies you see at the supermarket) is committed to ROOT ZERO produce. Their root zero approach, which is building a greener future, underpinned by the B Corp principles for sustainable growth, is accelerating the supply of carbon neutral food and drink to consumers across the UK and Europe. The project is also accelerating the growth of the UK’s first ROOT ZERO brand – starting with spuds.

“The Root Zero brand has seen significant growth, with sales increasing by 300%,” says Matthew Thomas of Puffin Produce. “We’re also in the process of launching the first landscape enterprise network in Wales, which means organisations operating in that specific landscape come together to collaboratively work on improving and restoring the landscape.”

In addition, Puffin Produce are also using eco labelling to keep buyers informed of the carbon footprint of their produce.

Collectively, these Welsh brands are doing more than what meets the eye. They are proactively reimagining supply chains and driving sustainability in ways that go beyond what they state on their labels – and they are creating popular products with added feelgood factor, too.

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