Exploring new and developing categories is nothing new to Liz Dunn, the regional wellness coordinator for MOM’s Organic Market. The East Coast chain, which operates 21 stores in four states, has focused for decades on protecting and restoring the environment. In September it became the first grocery store in the U.S., per the Upcycled Food Association, to have created an in-store set solely dedicated to upcycled products.
The endcap features upcycled beverages, snacks, cosmetics and more.
“It’s a small humble gesture, but think it's a harbinger of much bigger changes to come,” said Turner Wyatt, CEO and co-founder of the Upcycled Food Association.
Dunn is the category manager for a program called lifestyle, a department that has typically included environmentally friendly CPG products. Below she shares the journey to getting more upcycled products on shelf.
What prompted the creation of this upcycled product set concept?
Liz Dunn: We did a couple of zero waste concepts as far back as 2017 before it was mainstream. That was before everybody had their own straws and you could get shampoo bars at Target. We were featuring products that were plastic free, infinitely reusable, that kind of thing. It was really well received by our customers, so we did it again.
Upcycling seemed like a perfect next step after we had a couple of zero waste concepts. MOM’s purpose is to protect and restore the environment and our customers are really tuned in to that.
How did you know the time was right for it?
LD: For a couple of years I’d been looking the concept of upcycled ingredients in consumer packaged goods. The main category that I manage is body care. So I was starting to kind of see that pop up, but mostly overseas, primarily in Europe. And for the most part I was just seeing it in raw ingredients.
So it wasn't actually, you know, finished products that a customer could buy yet. And I kind of had been keeping it at the back of my mind and keeping an eye on when there were going to be actual products that you could purchase, made with upcycled ingredients, that were actually calling out that they were made with upcycled ingredients in a way that would help consumers understand how that supply chain worked.
I started working on the concept and a New Hope Network article came out about the Upcycled Food Association. I didn’t even know there was an Upcycled Food Association. So I reached out to them.
That’s great to here. How did that partnership evolve with the Upcycled Food Association?
LD: They were super excited because we are the first retailer to highlight these ingredients. They’ve been great and have introduced me to some of the suppliers that either have UFA certification or are seeking it right now. It’s been really cool.