Localisation in food and drink is a growing trend. The reasons to not transport food over long distances are clear: it creates more carbon emissions, and suppliers often have to add preservatives to stabilise products. There is also inevitably waste along the supply chain.
This trend has been accelerated with the effects of Covid-19. According to Thoughtworks, supporting local farmers has become increasingly important to consumers, with 39% saying it will be a consideration when buying food, compared with 27% in 2018. Despite Covid-19 decelerating, the desire of consumers to source products closer to home will continue to rise.
Localisation is in some ways a conflicting concept for consumers. We would all prefer to buy products that are less expensive and we now only spend 10.5% of our income on food shopping, down from 33% in the 1950s. However, the lower spend for consumers costs the environment.
I should say Dash Water is not perfect. Although our UK products source 98% of their raw materials from within the UK, we do for example gather our surplus lemons from Italy and peaches from Spain. Nevertheless, we are working hard to source more locally where possible and to also offset carbon emitted from our supply chain.
These environmental reasons are why we at Dash decided to produce our beverages locally in Australia, our first market to manufacture outside the UK. It has certainly been a complex operational challenge. Of course, producing internationally is nothing new but as we do not have any full-time team members in Australia and could not travel to visit our suppliers or manufacturers, which made the project demanding. Furthermore, the supermarket listing at Woolworths we were working towards was pulled forward by three months.
But, as business guru Ryan Halliday wrote, “the obstacle is the way”. We produced our first batch of 400k cans using Australian spring water and locally made aluminium cans. These cans hit 700 Woolworths stores in mid-August, reaching the shelves before we at Dash HQ in the UK were able to try it. It was a delight to sample this delicious product with my colleague, Roxane, who had secured the Australian supermarket listing last week and I realised then just how hard our great operations team in Jack, Tom and Bea had worked to make this happen.
Despite the challenges, using local spring water, reducing transportation waste and supporting domestic suppliers are all great reasons for us to embark on manufacturing in Australia – and it certainly won’t be the last international market where we localise production.