UNITED KINGDOM / AGILITYPR.NEWS / February 28, 2020 / Since 2014 the GIMA Innovators Seed Corn Fund has helped five brands break into the UK garden retail market. The 2019 winners were Natural Grower, who impressed the judges with the brand’s organic and veganic gardening credentials; credentials that fit perfectly with an increasingly demanding consumer conscience.
Since being awarded the GISCF accolade at Glee 2019, the Natural Grower team has been incredibly busy. Here we catch up with the company’s founder, Charlotte Beaty, to find out more.
Congrats on being awarded the 2019 GIMA Innovators Seed Corn Fund! Was the win a surprise? How did it impact your Glee experience?
Winning the Seed Corn Fund was a surprise! We were delighted to have our company and products recognised by GIMA. Glee was a fantastic event for us. It was the first time for us exhibiting at the event and having the Seed Corn Fund awarded to us at the show made it even more memorable. Visitors to our stand all commented on the award, and I am sure it helped to add credence to the company and what we have achieved so far and would like to achieve going forwards.
What have you been up to since Glee 2019? How has business been?
We have been extremely busy following up all the leads that we made at Glee and have been travelling the length and breadth of the country for meetings. We are receiving a really positive response from all the people we have met with and we currently have new stockists being confirmed on a daily basis which is incredibly exciting.
Have you yet utilised some of the benefits of the GISCF win?
We have used the benefits of the GISCF to help with the costs of marketing, research and product promotion. It has also been used for consultancy support to launch the products on a number of different online portals.
Additionally, becoming a GIMA member has given us access to much needed business advice. The ability to seek advice and help and meet up with representatives who are happy to give their time to advise us has been invaluable.
It has also been beneficial from a networking point of view, and as a result we now have an excellent person helping us with sales and promoting the products to garden centres and buying groups. This will significantly help us to achieve increased sales over the coming season.
What has been the response to your products? Has this feedback developed your offering at all?
We have had a positive response to our products wherever we have gone. Sustainability, eco-friendly and chemical free options are top of the agenda for many people at the moment, and our products tick all those boxes. We are offering our soil conditioner in smaller 1-litre sized pouches as a result of feedback. This is an ideal size for hanging baskets and potted plants, and for those people who don’t need the larger 16-litre tub.
What does 2020 have in store for Natural Grower?
2020 is set to be a year of continued growth for the company, and we’ll be looking to increase the number of stockists around the UK. We’ll also be looking at a way to continue the research and development of our products so we can provide veganic options that consumers demand is driving.
What consumer trends are driving demand for your products?
The strong trend towards sustainability and looking after our environment is driving people to look for non-chemical options for their gardens. The veganic gardening trend is growing as people become more aware of what they are adding to their soils in the quest to grow healthy fruit and vegetables.
Are there any issues that are concerning you at present – lack of understanding, costs, legislation etc – how are you responding/countering such concerns?
The use of single use plastic is a high concern for all of us. It is, however, difficult to find alternative products to use. Biodegradable and compostable products are not suitable for our type of product and don’t have the shelf life that we would require. Over time new packaging products will become available and we will always be on the look-out for a suitable replacement. Until we find an alternative, we have ensured that all our packaging is 100% recyclable, and in the case of our 50-litre bags of soil conditioner they are made from 30% recycled plastic. We use recycled pallets to deliver our stock to garden centres and distributors and encourage people to reuse and recycle our containers and pallets as much as they can.
Additionally, a lot of people don’t appreciate how important it is to look after the health of our soils. Chemical fertilisers don’t provide any long-term benefits to the soil health. The use of organic fertilisers and soil conditioners enables the soil to recover and increased microbial activity improves the soil structure. Organic fertilisers release their nutrients slowly and help to retain moisture, whilst increased worm numbers help to improve drainage and aeration for the plants and the worm castings continue to deliver nutrients to the plants. This all ultimately leads to healthy soil which helps to prevent plant diseases.
We are living in a time of great change with regards to how we look after our environment going forwards. Being part of that change with our veganic products is very exciting and I am delighted to be helping to make a difference for future generations to come.
Find out more
Any businesses, entrepreneurs and innovators interested in entering the GIMA Innovators’ Seed Corn Fund in 2020 are invited to do so by visiting http://gima.org.uk/innovators-seed-corn-fund/ and completing the online application form ahead of the late August deadline.
Further details about GIMA can also be found at www.gima.org.uk or by calling 01959 564947.
Further details regarding Natural Grower can be found at www.naturalgrower.co.uk