Meet the founders of Honest to Goodness, Matt Ward and Karen Ward, who built a business based on health and sustainability 15 years ago from scratch.
Inside FMCG had the chance to interview Matt Ward recently from Sri Lanka, where they source out coconuts for their products.
Inside FMCG: Honest to Goodness recently switched to 100 per cent renewable energy warehouse and headquarters in Alexandria, which has been re-certified as a B-Corporation. Tell us about this company decision?
Matt Ward: Since starting 15 years ago, we have aimed to build a business true to its values and reflect what is important to us. Honest to Goodness became a B-Corporation (B-Corp) as part of our commitment to operating a sustainable and ethical business.
In addition, being a B-Corp provides us with the opportunity to get together with like-minded business people [who] share thoughts and ideas on how we can all use business as a force for good in our world.
Inside FMCG: How was the business different 15 years ago to how it is now?
15 years ago the business was in its infancy, operating out of a home office and selling at organic farmers markets in Sydney. Honest to Goodness has always been about quality and value, our vision is to create a healthy, sustainable [and] better future. Today, fundamentally it is the same but on a larger scale. We have grown to including two warehouses, manufacturing ability, a shop and office covering 4,000 square meters.
We also have over 50 staff, 850+ products and distribute nationally. True to the values of the business we still attend the organic farmers markets in Leichhardt and Frenches Forest every weekend. It’s a great way to connect with our loyal customers and really understand what customers are looking for.
Inside FMCG: How does Honest to Goodness ensure fair trade when working directly with farmers and suppliers?
As an industry leader, we carry a responsibility for setting an example of how it is possible to operate ethically and responsibly and still have a vibrant, healthy business and community. We aim to provide high quality, healthy and delicious foods to people nationwide through a network of growers and suppliers.
Just this week [we] are visiting our Sri Lankan coconut suppliers, their farms and factories with their family. This is one of the most rewarding parts of a business like ours as many of our suppliers are small scale, doing unique and interesting things
Inside FMCG: Do you think companies can make it more affordable in the future so more consumers can buy organic products?
With more than two out of three Australian households buying at least one organic product in the past year, it’s encouraging to see organic products grow in popularity. Being a small business in a niche and fast growing industry has been advantageous for us as we are able to listen to what the customers have to say and adapt where needed whilst still staying true to our principles.
Our customers have always valued quality ingredients and the benefits organic food provide. The more scale a company like ours can get the more likely it is for our costs to be lower and therefore consumers will be able to pay a lower price for their food. However, organic food will always be at a premium to its conventional counterpart as it is a premium product that offers real value to the person eating it and our environment.
Eating high quality foods with integrity is a path of no return for many people; they don’t want to switch back to conventional foods. In order to save money and still [provide] what they want to a growing number of consumers buy in bulk and share it amongst their friends, family or colleagues.
They save money and save on packaging as well, a win-win. For example a customer could go Woolworths and purchase a 450g of Woolworths Select Australian Almonds for $9.75 ($21.67/KG) or alternatively buy a 5KG bag of Honest to Goodness Insecticide-Free Australian Almonds from us and share with others and pay just $16/KG. This is a great way to save and still eat the foods you want to eat.
Inside FMCG: Where do you see Honest to Goodness expanding next?
We are excited to be recognised by our customers as a trusted and loved organic brand. Honest to Goodness was voted Australia’s Favourite Organic Brand in 2015 and 2016 in a consumer survey. We would love to see Honest to Goodness products in everybody’s pantry, we also want to create a healthy, sustainable [and a] better future.
We plan to extend our range of own branded products this year but also will be expanding our range of distributor product with more like-minded suppliers. New additions to our range soon natural health & beauty products, natural products for the home and a growing range of healthy snack lines. We are always looking to supporting unique Australian innovative farming, manufacturing processes and international distribution opportunities as they come our way.