We are excited to announce our latest partnership with The Consumer Brand, to help ensure Matthews Cotswold Flour is a brand led by consumers.
Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about the way the food and drink they buy is produced and the impact of this production, particularly on animal welfare and the environment. Consumers feel disconnected from farmers, producers and suppliers. Consumers are seeking a greater understanding of the source of produce, how it is grown, how animals are treated, how the food is manufactured and packaged and whether this is all done in an ethical, responsible and environmentally friendly manner. This understanding is becoming an increasingly important consideration for consumers when making their purchasing decisions.
A new initiative, The Consumer Brand, has been set up to address these concerns, produce responsible products, re-connect consumers with producers and involve them in all aspects of production. The Consumer Brand aspires to create change within the industry. To do this the Consumer Brand follows a unique business model – it has been established as a non-profit-making Community Interest Company (CIC) where the strategies and key decisions of the business are guided by an active community of members who share the aims and values, rather than a group of shareholders or investors. Consumers are being actively encouraged to join the community. However, the community is not just consumers – it is farmers and producers too, and this is the start of the process of re-connecting consumers with the source of products. This consumer led movement has already been hugely successful in other European countries, including France where the model originated.
The Consumer Brand aims to establish and sell a set of retail products that are produced ethically and in accordance with the views of consumers. The Consumer Brand is different and mandates a responsible approach. All aspects of the operation of the Consumer Brand are focussed on meeting this approach, that embraces:
- High standards of welfare of animals
- Positive impact on the environment
- Fairness to farmers and producers
- Complete transparency of operation
- High involvement of consumers
- High engagement between consumer and producer.
The Consumer Brand was established in mid-2019 by David Poussier and Pascal Hegglin. It is called The Consumer Brand to emphasise the consumer-led approach of the initiative. David and Pascal have many years experience in various aspects of production and retail, and recognised that the domination of the retail food marketplace by supermarket and production giants and their drive for more, ever cheaper goods means that practices are now being used that could be seen to be detrimental to the environment, to animals and to producers. Whilst it is often argued that it is the consumer driving these practices, in reality the consumer has limited ability to affect the way supermarkets and producers work – the relationship between the consumer and the source of production is broken. The Consumer Brand wants to change this!
The community is at the heart of what The Consumer Brand do and not only guides the business but decides on the products to be sold. To enable this, the business uses a straight-forward questionnaire for each chosen staple food product and community members are encouraged to participate and respond. The questionnaires are open to the public, and everyone is encouraged to get involved and have their say. Each questionnaire covers the key factors in production and distribution, including the welfare of the animals, the environmental impact, the type of packaging. In preparation for the questionnaire, the various cost drivers in the supply chain have been determined and these are also embodied in the questionnaire and show the impact of the response to each question on the retail price of the product. As the questionnaire is answered the consumer can see the affect their decisions are having on the retail price! The discussions with producers and suppliers have confirmed that retail price is highly competitive with comparable existing products.
To date the Consumer Brand has used social media as the primary means of marketing, with some success. The Consumer Brand now has a small but growing group of followers and the business’s credibility is increasing.
The Consumer Brand is moving forward with a portfolio of staple foods that UK consumers buy on daily basis and is collaborating with a range of producers, suppliers and also standards organisations. It has established relationships with egg, flour and milk producers who support the ethical model and is actively seeking further producers. During 2020, the questionnaires for egg and flour went live. As well as these producers, the Consumer Brand is collaborating with welfare and standards organisations such as FtN (Fair to Nature), NFFN (Nature Friendly Farming Network) and the Real Food Campaign, to verify and validate the quality levels of all aspects of the supply chain.
Bertie Matthews, Managing Director of Matthews Cotswold Flour says “Knowing where are foods comes from and how it is produced is becoming more and more important. “Ethical consumerism” or “Sustainable consumerism” is here to stay. From running a flour milling business we love sharing where our wheat comes from, working with farmers and producing quality flour rather than commodity flour. We were able to agree a fair price through our Cotswold Grain Partnership and invite bakers into the mill to see our process.
We were excited to work with The Consumer Brand and thought the way they are connecting with consumers to create sustainably produced fair trade products is a brilliant idea. Matthews Cotswold Flour is proud to part of this partnership and we look forward to the end results.”
To have your say about the flour you want, please click here to fill in our questionnaire.