City Harvest’s long-term partner, Belazu Ingredient Co., live its B-Corp values daily by donating surplus food to City Harvest, sourcing ingredients ethically and sustainably, and implementing a mitigation hierarchy to ensure there is minimal food waste across the supply chain.
“Belazu is a strong supporter who really helped get us going. The team provided logistical advice and provided us office space when we had none, and the use of a chiller which greatly accelerated our growth. We would not have progressed as well in the early, uncertain years were it not for Belazu. We’re supremely grateful.” – Steve Winningham, City Harvest co-founder
This B-Corp month, we caught up with Belazu Sustainability Coordinator, Ruby Harlow, to chat about how City Harvest has been a part of Belazu’s B-Corp journey.
How is City Harvest a Solution for Belazu?
We have been working with City Harvest for as long as we can remember, as an early partner we helped to transport their food surplus to charity partners in the early years.
When the pandemic hit, City Harvest had the capacity to collect and redistribute our ingredients that were in larger formats no longer needed by our customers in the food service industry.
We now donate surplus weekly to City Harvest. Our surplus now looks very different to what it did during the pandemic as we have expanded into retail to provide our exciting ingredients for inspiring home cooks. Last year, we donated over 27 tonnes to City Harvest.
At Belazu, alongside working with retailers, we create a variety of products with different recipes for core customers in restaurants, hospitality, and our network of chefs. On-site in London, we have 8 different production lines with the capacity to make over 300 different products. These range from our famous harissa paste to our pestos, marinated olives, and nut mixes which are flavoured and roasted in small batches. Every day, we produce close to 18,000 jars on one of our production lines, sometimes nearer 27,000 when we are at maximum capacity!
Setting up weekly collections has been beneficial for Belazu to ensure that our surplus can be redistributed with as much shelf-life as possible to both minimise potential waste and to give charities as much time as possible to utilise the products.
Planning to actively reduce food waste
We have a mitigation hierarchy that our planning team uses which helps to reduce food waste. Ingredients are assessed on a case-by-case basis as to whether we can extend the shelf life, freeze it, rework it, or use it in our canteen. Our engineering team also work closely with our production teams to implement efficient systems to limit waste.
However, sometimes we do produce products that are not fit for sale. Last year, we transitioned from plastic labels to paper labels, which was a great step forward, but this means that we can sometimes end up with labels that are slightly ripped or wonky. These products still taste delicious, so we donate them to City Harvest, who come and collect them straight from our warehouse.
How does working with City Harvest align with Belazu’s B-Corp values?
Having a positive impact on the environment has always been important for Belazu and becoming a B Corp back in 2021 allows us to join such a great community of businesses that are all working for a better future. Reducing our impact on the environment covers everything from our energy and water usage, recycling, packaging, and the impact of growing our ingredients to waste and importantly food waste.
Globally, the production of food accounts for 37% of greenhouse gas emissions with strains upon land, energy, and water resources. As a food manufacturer working with farmers and growers in different parts of the world to provide artisan ingredients to our customers, we understand the need to do business in the best way possible. Reducing food waste is said to be the number one way to reduce negative environmental impact so our partnership with City Harvest is important for us to reduce this impact on the planet.
B-Corp Values in Act(i)on
At Belazu, everyone has the chance to get involved in multiple volunteering opportunities across the year via The Belazu Foundation. Volunteering is great for team building as different people get involved from across the business!
With City Harvest, employees can volunteer at their Acton warehouse not far from our HQ, and see the extent of surplus within the food system today, and the solution City Harvest provides by connecting it with local communities. If they hop on a City Harvest food rescue van, volunteers can see the wider impact on the community by delivering to, and meeting, a spectrum of recipient charities.
If you’re a food business looking to sustainably redistribute your industry surplus, get in touch with City Harvest’s food team. We can help to solve surplus issues from anywhere in your supply chain.