Local Food Economy

Better Food: “Making the report has given us food for thought to improve our impact”

By Danni Rochman

Danni Rochman

This week Better Food published its first ever impact report, taking a look at social, economic and environmental impact. Danni Rochman is both Ethical Sourcing Coordinator at Better Food Company and Communications Coordinator here at Bristol Bites Back Better. In our latest blog, Danni looks at the report’s highs and lows, and Better Food’s plans for the future. If you are working for a food business and have studied your impact in this way, please get in touch so that we can share your story too.

Released in February 2022, Better Food’s impact report captures a snapshot of where we are and where we’d like to be in terms of our impact on people and planet. It can be easy for a small business like ours, which was founded with sustainability at its heart, to take for granted that we’ll always stay true to our mission; but the world and our business have shifted in ways we couldn’t have imagined three decades ago, and it’s important to make sure that our activities are positively contributing to a shifting definition of ‘sustainability’ itself.

Many of Bristol’s food businesses are beginning to think more deeply about their impact. Last year, we saw pop-up hospitality venue Breaking Bread produce a report considering its economic and environmental impact. As Pauline Bourdon, Sustainability Coordinator at Breaking Bread described in their report, this is an important way to take a step back to consider many elements of ‘where you’re at’. You can read more about Breaking Bread’s process on this blog.

Our values – Organic, Local, Ethical – offered a good starting point to begin to look at the positive impact that we’re working to; values have been at the heart of the business since Better Food first came to life in the kitchen of our founder Phil’s Bishopston home 30 years ago. The three words capture a great deal of what guides our decisions front and back of house, so it seems right to measure ourselves against them to see what we’re achieving in each domain, and where we can do more.


The good news is that our teams are doing a lot to bring these values to life. We’ve maintained our organic certification as a business since 1997 (meaning we can sell unpackaged organic goods and still call them organic, and make our own organic items in the kitchen. We know that choosing organic is having a meaningful impact as far as the organic farms are concerned, where, on average, plant, insect and bird life is up to 50% more abundant than their conventional counterparts.

Better Food van outside the store


Our impact locally isn’t confined to just our sourcing (though 64% of the products we sell are sourced from suppliers within 50 miles of Bristol); we’re having an impact through our people too. Around 150 local people are employed at Better Food. In 2021 we achieved our ambition of becoming a Living Wage Employer, recognising that we pay our staff the real Living Wage or more, as opposed to the lower government National Living Wage.

As an aside, did you know that Bristol has been acknowledged as a Living Wage City, the largest city in the UK to achieve this status? You can find local Living Wage Employers and Recognised Service Providers using this map. If you are an employer not listed on the map, get in touch with the Living Wage Foundation to be listed.


When it comes to our ethical impact, this slightly nebulous word influences much of what we do and the decisions we make. In sourcing products for our shelves, we look not just at organic certification, but also at packaging, use of palm oil, Fair Trade schemes, and even suppliers’ support of community initiatives. One of the ways we’ve committed to increasing our ethical impact beyond our stores is through our own community initiative, Better Giving, raising funds for customer-voted local charities including Houria, The Green House and SARI.

Taking a look at our impact across our values also served to highlight where we could be doing better. We’ve seen that there’s a need to go that extra mile to source organic where is matters most, setting ourselves the target of increasing our meat range from 79% organic to 85% in the next year. We’ve also seen our waste creeping up as shopping patterns have changed in the past year, tipping just over 2% by stock value. Our teams have already set about finding ways to get this back down, including making more use of the Too Good To Go app – read about the app here on the Bristol Bites Back Better blog. We’ve set ourselves ten firm targets, laid out in the report, to reach by the end of 2022, but making the report has given us food for thought to improve our impact beyond just these ten goals.

As part of Bristol Bites Back Better we are keen to share the good news of what food businesses are doing to contribute to Bristol’s positive food future. If you are doing anything as a business connected to health, supporting local, celebrating diversity and looking after the environment, let us share your stories, tell the world of your successes, and bring you and your business into the limelight. See the food businesses resources on our website, read stories about Bristol food businesses, and join the conversation today.

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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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