Local Food Economy

Essential Trading: An alternative model

By Jimmy Nelson

Jimmy Nelson

Essential Trading is the lead partner for Bristol Bites Back Better, the latest campaign from the team behind Bristol’s bid to be a Gold Sustainable Food City, which aims to create a resilient future for the city through food. Essential’s Jimmy Nelson writes in our latest blog post about the co-operative’s history and values and how they have offered a different model of food supply since the 1970s.

Essential Trading’s roots can be traced back to 1971 when the co-operative’s first Harvest store opened in Bath. Since then, Essential has become a true pioneer in the manufacturing and distribution of vegetarian, vegan, organic, sustainable and free-from produce, sourced from around the world. 

As a collective, we very much have shared values and all workers have an equal say in how the business operates. Sharing passions for hearty and healthy food goes hand-in-hand with environmental consciousness. These are the priorities of everyone within the co-operative. With our ethical approach to business operations, the communal organisation showcases a 100% vegetarian, vegan and GMO-free range of nearly 5000 product lines and we continue to work on ways to generate less waste and encourage our customers to do the same. Though leading health food brands continue to be popular among our nationwide customers, we also enjoy kudos for our own products which are produced under organic license in the large Fishponds warehouse.

As recognised key workers in the food industry, our services are in high-demand more now than ever before. Essential supports the local community by servicing small chain and independent wholesalers, retailers and buying groups across the UK. Those living in the South West can benefit from our significant presence in many health food shops, including the Harvest shop in Bath and an additional premises in Bristol.

Essential Trading Open Day 2018
An Essential Trading Open Day in 2018

In order to ensure that all customer orders are picked and vital food supplies reach as many of the general public as possible in the unparalleled situation we’re currently living through, members from other departments have assisted the warehouse team when required. The beauty of a co-operative model is the, “everyone in the same boat” mentality; helping one another out when required is second-nature and we all appreciate this outlook and mutual support for one another. Delivering goods throughout the UK is a flagship service of Essential Trading and we continue to offer a priority service to many of our customers, most notably those in Bristol and the surrounding areas. 

In addition to supplying food and nutrition to the public, Essential are also keen to sponsor like-minded organisations and their corresponding campaigns. We donate to a number of good causes and organisations including Super Supper Club, Project Mama, Base and Roses Food Solidarity Project, Borderlands, Bath Vegan Food Bank and the Trussell Trust, helping the South West’s poorer communities, refugees and asylum seekers. With our close affinity to the environment and the wildlife at the heart of our business, we also contribute to permaculture, chicken farms and an animal sanctuary.

Essential Trading warehouse

Offering our support to and sponsorship of the new Bristol Bites Back Better campaign has allowed us to demonstrate our shared ambition for Bristol to become a gold sustainable city. Essential Trading actively promote organic and ethical food businesses and where possible, purchase from local producers in order for them to reinvest in their land and continue the lifecycle of the product(s). The benefits of such practices on the economy and the environment are innumerable. The global environment is currently somewhat unstable; if Bristol can be the beacon for collaborative working, stability and a higher quality of life, then we are delighted to offer our support to the campaign.  

Essential are the lead partner for Bristol Bites Back Better, which launched during the city’s second week of national lockdown restrictions. The campaign highlights the central role food plays in our lives, not only during lockdown, but also as a vital part of a strong recovery.

Visit www.bristolbitesbackbetter.co.uk to explore resources, discover stories, and participate in the conversation on social media using the hashtag #BiteBackBetter. Food businesses can sign up to the Bristol Bites Back Better food businesses newsletter.

The need for a resilient food community has never been greater. The coronavirus pandemic has already led to unforeseen challenges for our city’s food system, and unimagined resourcefulness from communities and organisations across Bristol. Read more about why ‘going green’ is good for your business.

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So, what change do you want to see happen that will transform food in Bristol by 2030? Do you already have an idea for how Bristol can make this happen? Join the conversation now.

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