A tale of crooked carrots: An in-depth look at The Body Shop's vegan innovations
The noted R&D thinktank of The Body Shop has lately turned into an intensive care unit for vegetables, and they’re rescuing the not-so-pretty picks of fresh produce — carrots, bananas, ginger and so on that might be deemed unworthy for supermarket alleys, but serve just as well as in the form of ingredients.
The idea extends to a new line of anti-pollution products, which keeps up the ‘100 per cent Vegetarian and Cruelty Free’ tag of the British cosmetics, skincare and perfume company, while making strides towards going completely vegan.
Antara Kundu, Head of Marketing, The Body Shop — Asia South, explains that they are consciously breaking new ground when it comes to designing new product lines, and creating premium segments for the market.
“We believe every ingredient is beautiful, irrespective of its shape,” offers Kundu. “To help reduce food waste, we are sourcing organic carrots that are rejected by the food or supermarket industry due to their shapes.”
The Carrot Skincare range reveals your skin’s natural healthy glow, while fortifying it against pollution and the other ill-effects of city living, she explains. “100 per cent vegan, with over 90 per cent ingredients of natural origin and in 100 per cent recyclable packaging,” this is one of their most sustainable ranges ever. Here's the full-length interview:
Let's begin with the new Wonky line and range for anti-pollution skincare. How evolved is this as a product designed for the urban city life?
City living and the environmental aggression associated with it is something that is a matter of increasing concern to all of us. UVA/UVB rays, air pollution, air conditioning, radiation, temperature and humidity, hard water and artificial blue light – these ingredients form the harmful blend of environmental external aggressors, essentially a ‘dirty cocktail’ that requires care and constant attention.
What’s worse, these factors don’t just add up, they actually amplify each other making it a recipe for skin disaster! We are increasing seeing skin concerns such as dehydration, sensitivity, breakouts, dullness and eventually accelerated signs of ageing!
Keeping to our code of naturally efficacious skincare created with real ingredients that deliver real results, The Body Shop has launched its New Carrot Skincare range that reveals your skin’s natural healthy glow while fortifying it against pollution and the other ill effects of city living. 100% Vegan, with over 90% ingredients of natural origin and in 100% recyclable packaging, our new Carrot range is one of our most sustainable ranges ever.
To help reduce food waste, we are sourcing organic carrots for this range that are rejected by the food or supermarket industry due to their wonky shapes. At The Body Shop, we believe that every ingredient is beautiful and irrespective of their shapes, these organic carrots are extremely high in beta-carotene in addition to vitamin A, skin nutrients and antioxidants.
The Carrot range consists of a simple 2-step regimen of cleansing and moisturising that helps skin recover and stay protected against urban pollution. To create a daily anti-pollution skincare routine, we recommend the use of an easy to use SPF product like our SPF30 Skin Defence Face Mist as well as the addition of some of our Vitamin C products on a nightly or weekly basis.
The carrots are back! And that's exciting for the number of things that you've done with it... not just in the new line of products, but also in the hors d'oeuvres for the guests at the launch event. Tell us about the ingredient itself - why is it so popular, and how innovative are the new products?
It’s a little known fact – especially among our younger consumers – but Carrot skincare was actually part of The Body Shop many years ago. We have improved and relaunched it due to the love of our consumers across the world who consistently asked for it to be brought back. Its popularity stems from its relatability and consumers intrinsically understand its benefits for health and well-being.
Using organic, too-wonky-for-supermarket carrots helps further our commitment to reducing food waste. The organic carrots for this range are sourced for a British family-run farm and ordinarily these crooked carrots would have been wasted by the food industry just because of how they look. At our launch event, we have deliberately built the Carrot story further through healthy carrot canapes and juices as carrots are incredible when included in our diets as well.
As far as the range is concerned, it’s not just what's on the inside that is sustainable – it also comes in 100% recyclable packaging which in turn is made from 55% recycled Plastic.
Tell us a little about the shift you've made from being vegetarian to vegan? How different is that really, for us to know more about? And how does this affect the price point?
The Body Shop has always been 100% Vegetarian and Cruelty Free - we are now making rapid strides towards becoming Vegan as well. Simply put while Vegetarian products are free of any animal-derived ingredients that are obtained as a result of animal slaughter, Vegan products are free of all animal-derived ingredients.
So a product containing honey is Vegetarian but not Vegan. Ingredients like honey and beeswax are often used in beauty products for their superior skin benefits. In our case, they also come from our Community Trade partners - our honey is from Ethiopia and our beeswax is from Cameroon; both are organic, wild-harvested and from sustainably-managed sources, where we have long-standing relationships with our partners.
The push towards veganism is happening globally and we have seen consumers becoming more conscious of animal-derived ingredients. The demand for vegan products is on the rise and this is especially true when it comes to finding quality vegan make-up and skincare brands. We are currently looking to dial up the number of Vegan products in our portfolio and all of our new launches are 100% Vegan. We will continue to invest in vegan product development with an eye on the future as we see it as an investment for our consumers.
Could you give us some insight into your focus on ingredient-specific product lines, and how the choice of ingredients, and their combinations, can make all the difference?
The Body Shop is and has always been about naturally efficacious products that draw on the wisdom of the natural world, its culture and beauty rituals. Core ingredients that are supported by compelling provenance and benefit stories are at the heart of our product range.
We champion Community Trade in the sourcing of our ingredients from across the world and our iconic ranges have a core ingredient at the centre – Shea Butter from Ghana or Mango Seed oil from India and now organic wonky Carrots from the UK are a few examples. Our commitment to ethical sourcing of these ingredients includes trying to counter food waste as best as we can.
Our recently launched Wonky is Wonderful campaign celebrates all ingredients - wonky carrots in our Carrot skin care range, misshaped bananas in our Limited Edition Banana bath & body range as well as stubby ginger in our Ginger haircare and bath & body range.
Through this campaign, we hope to highlight the benefits of these ingredients which would ordinarily have been discarded by the food industry due to their appearance. We have always believed that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and colours, it is as true of people as of ingredients.
Would you like to give us a brand journey overview of The Body Shop being in the Indian market for more than 12 years? And, how would you place a vision for the next 12 years?
The Body Shop launched in India on World Environment Day ie 5th June, 2006 and in the last 13 years, we have grown from strength to strength with more than 180 stores across 60 cities and towns.
We also have a thriving brand e-commerce site – www.thebodyshop.in – that reaches over 1000 cities and towns in India. Our unique blend of ethical, nature-inspired skincare with a dash of spunk and humour has been loved by consumers not just in the bigger cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata but also in cities and towns like Guwahati, Siliguri, Jammu, Aurangabad, Patna, Nasik, Mysore, Calicut and many others.
The Indian beauty industry today is one of the most dynamic and fast paced industries on the retail front. As a leading international player in this industry, with the rising upsurge in consciousness around beauty purchasing, we believe the way forward is to remain true to what differentiates us – our focus on values and activism compass.
We are loved for our 100% Vegetarian, Cruelty Free, natural beauty products that are housed in a wide portfolio and priced accessibly. We have also built a strong relationship with our consumers who identify with and support us in the business of what we do and how we do it. We shall be opening 20 more stores this year in 2019, establishing our footprint in new cities to make ourselves even more accessible to new customers. Our accessibility, wide availability, deep consumer knowledge and spirited communication and activism is what we believe will keep driving us forward.
Tell us a little about the local groups you work with towards initiatives such as the Plastic for Change campaign? How do such efforts build into the bigger brand identity?
We launched our first Community Trade Recycled Plastic in our packaging through our Plastics for Change initiative in May, 2019 to address the plastic pollution crisis in a way that is uniquely The Body Shop. Our planet and our country is drowning in plastic and a lot of it is recyclable. Much like the rest of the world, some of the poorest people in our country collect this plastic waste and make a living from it. At The Body Shop, we’re committed to tackling the plastic crisis differently.
We believe not using plastic is not the only answer. If used responsibly plastic can be sustainable and we need to respect the plastic that we use as well as the communities that make their living from it. India alone has an estimated 1.5 million waste pickers who provide us with an essential environmental service but are extremely marginalized, with little economic or social stability. This is the very human face of the plastic pollution crisis and through our Plastics for Change project, we are shining a light on this.
For this project, our local partners are Bengaluru based Hasiru Dala (“Green Force”), Hasiru Dala Innovations and Plastics for Change in Bengaluru. Our green technology partner, Plastics For Change has applied mobile technology to create sustainable livelihoods for the urban poor, while transitioning the industry towards a circular economy.
Their deal process and mobile platform provides wastepickers with access to fair and consistent income opportunities. All the real costs involved in getting the plastic from the wastepickers to the end buyer are uploaded onto this platform, which improves the supply chain efficiency.
Hasiru Dala & Hasiru Dala Innovations are our social impact partners for the recycling initiative as they work closely with the waste picker community ensuring their socio-economical stability. With these partners, we have introduced Community Trade Recycled Plastic into our 250ml haircare packaging closing the loop that starts with plastic waste collected by the waste pickers.
This not only helps confront the existing plastic problem, we are also able to empower the waste pickers we support in Bengaluru, with fair and stable prices, access to more sanitary working conditions and the respect and recognition they deserve. Through Plastics for Change, we will be sourcing 250 tonnes of recycled plastic in 2019 which we aim to double next year. We aim to scale this up sustainably going forward.
As a brand, The Body shop has always championed environmental and social impact and we continue to believe that business can be a force for good. As we scale this project up and strengthen our in-store recycling program Bring Back Our Bottles, we are undergoing a comprehensive review of our overall packaging.
In the long term, The Body Shop is looking at a broader focus to take a responsible and circular approach with all materials and not just plastic. By 2030, we will have a completely closed loop system for all our packaging. This means we will recycle or re-purpose 100% of our packaging – mostly back into packaging or shop fixtures.
How does the Community Trade programme work at a global level? Could you give us a glimpse of the evolved nature of R&D and of course tie-ups and collaborations that go into such campaigns?
Community Trade (CT) is The Body Shop’s bespoke ethical sourcing programme and is at the heart of our sourcing of ingredients, products, accessories and now plastic packaging. CT was launched by The Body Shop as Trade Not Aid in 1987, and today over 95% of our products globally contain at least 1 CT ingredient. Community Trade on a global level requires considerable research, focus and manpower and we have dedicated teams at a global level that look into this programme exclusively.
CT sourcing implies not just sourcing ethically and sustainably, it also means celebrating our CT partners and drawing from their knowledge of ingredients and beauty rituals to create products for the contemporary consumer.
Through CT, we are able to support our partners with fair prices as well as access to essential health, education and social services. A lot of our CT partnerships go back a long way – Teddy Exports in Madurai is The Body Shop’s oldest CT partner (creating our accessories since 1987) and we recently also celebrated the 25th anniversary of our CT Shea Butter partnership with the Tungteiya women of Ghana.
Are we looking at a more increased focus on men's grooming products? How do you hope to campaign against preset and perhaps outdated mindsets about using grooming products, in the first place?
The men’s grooming industry has rapidly picked up pace over the last few years and that’s evident in the booming men’s personal care products and services industry in India. With more focus on grooming, easy access to information, online shopping via mobile internet and a younger demographic coming into play, male consumers are going beyond the usual shower and shaving products. Grooming and special care products such as beard oils, face masks, face scrubs and SPF moisturisers are now coming into play apart from focus on bath and body and haircare products.
While availability of men’s care products is increasing, we believe increased consumer education and better accessibility is imperative for strong growth in this category. Our in-store customer service and social media communication are critical tools to help our male consumers understand our products and benefits better. Our e-commerce site is also a great platform that allows male consumers to browse, ask questions and gather more knowledge on our products from the comfort of their home and downtime.
Could you tell us a little more about the statement, 'The brand extends vanity without cruelty'. What exactly does that imply?
The Body Shop is the Original, Natural and Ethical beauty brand. Our founder Anita Roddick has a disruptive approach to business and beauty – she believed then as we do now, that business can create a positive impact on the planet and its people and that beauty is a source of joy and a powerful tool in building self-esteem.
At The Body Shop, we see great power and opportunity in using commerce to affect change in the world, both in our business and our campaigns. The best way to convince others of this is to lead by example. This is why we will keep on supporting a strong sustainability agenda and remain Forever Against Animal Testing. All our products are made with a love of the life and world we live in, our individuality, our community spirit and a commitment to trading fairly. Through our campaigns, we will continue to speak out for the planet and its people, always looking to change the world for the better.
As an example, The Body Shop was the first global beauty brand to fight against animal testing. Over the last three decades, we’ve worked with our campaign partner Cruelty Free International and our collective efforts helped lead to a European Union ban in 2013. But that isn’t enough, 80% of countries don’t have laws against animal testing, including the US.
Animals continue to be used in testing, and we want to end this practice everywhere and forever. The campaign, conducted in partnership with Cruelty Free International. In 2018, The Body Shop had submitted 8 million signatures to United Nation in a petition to ban animal testing in cosmetics forever and in every country of our world.