Crickhowell’s plastic free shop wants to cut food miles too.
To say that Natural Weigh in Crickhowell have thought carefully about where their food comes from would be something of an understatement, but it should not be a huge surprise.
Natural Weigh are Wales’ first ‘zero-waste’ shop, offering plastic-free shopping at the point of sale and as far as possible back up their supply chain. Customers dispense dried foods and lifestyle products into their own containers or compostable ones sold by the shop.
Co-owner, Robin Masefield, says: “As far as our supply chain goes, plastic-free bulk buying is our top priority. We try to create a circular supply chain where we send back the empty containers to our supplier so they can be used again and again. This works best when the suppliers are local, but we are trying to spread it throughout our supply chain.”
The next priority is organic produce because “for the future of agriculture, we need to reduce the number of chemicals that we are putting our farmland. It’s not as much in the public eye as plastic pollution but very important.”
“Very close behind” is sourcing food locally, says Robin. “If we are importing goods from around the world, just think of the carbon emissions involved in bringing it over here. Wherever we can we source locally because it reduces food miles, and lessens the impact on the environment. We want, also to support local people in rural communities managing the land around us.”
Where Natural Weigh have to go to a wholesaler, they use a Bristol-based workers’ cooperative which only imports sustainable, ethically-sourced goods using container ships, not planes. They buy direct from the growers rather than distributors, so they get a share in the profit, too.
Robin admits that sourcing ethically is hard work; the shop has 45 different suppliers. But, he believes businesses who follow their lead will reap rewards: “I do think there is a greater awareness about where food comes from, and I think there is a business opportunity there to latch on to. It does require a bit more work, and it is a bit more costly, but there are huge benefits. People who visit the area are keen to get local stuff. And a lot of our regulars are really keen on it as well. They want to know if we’re not sourcing locally, why can’t we? And these people are prepared to pay more for a locally-sourced product as long as they don’t feel it is an inferior product.”
All local foods in Natural Weigh either have a Welsh flag or an explanation about the source provider. British-sourced foods have the Union flag. Goods which are sourced from abroad, are identified by country of origin, and a large sign at the back of the shop explains how they got here.
“The biggest barrier to us sourcing locally is the availability of the goods we sell, like the rices and pulses, which are not produced commercially in the UK.” Even so, Natural Weigh have found UK suppliers for Quinoa, Wheat Germ and Pearl Barley. And they stock organic wheat and locally grown grains, ground in Talgarth Mill (12 miles away), vinegar from Bwlch (6 miles), Llangattock honey (1 mile) in bulk , Llangattock Charcoal, Anglesey Sea Salt and UK-grown porridge oats, pulses and seeds among others. Natural Weigh are also in talks about becoming a collection point for local organic veg boxes.
Robin says he would support local producers coming in to fill the gaps and believes they could work together to ensure a consistent supply. “We have the option to go for suppliers from abroad who would be much cheaper, but we think it is important to buy as locally as possible, whenever we can. That means we have to absorb some of the costs and take a slightly smaller margin, but we think it is worth it.” Robin says.
Article and photographs by Tim Jones, As You See It Media
Natural Weigh Zero Waste ShopShop
|Address||Shop 1, The Corn Exchange, 54 High St, Crickhowell NP8 1BH|
|We sell/serve locally made food from|