planet organic

Source: Planet Organic

Planet Organic said it had removed the products from shelves immediately

Planet Organic has removed a number of food to go lines from shelves, after an audit identified “issues” with the organic label on some products, The Grocer has learned.

The problem was identified as part of a scheduled audit by the Soil Association, one of the bodies that provides businesses with organic certification in the UK.

According to correspondence seen by The Grocer, the crux of the concerns related to inconsistencies, or in some cases incorrect labelling, on packaging across a number of specific own-label products, rather than any issues with the origin of or production methods behind the products themselves. It does not affect Planet Organic’s wider ‘Organic’ certification. 

The retailer relies on a series of individual manufacturers to produce its own-label lines, which are individually responsible for producing the packaging used to store and display the products. 

Planet Organic confirmed to The Grocer that an inspection by the Soil Association on 26 February identified “some issues with a few products”, which were removed from shelves immediately.

“We have sourced a great range of products to replace our discontinued lines and have more exciting dishes in the pipeline,” Planet Organic founder Renée Elliott told The Grocer. “Our certification across the business remains in place. Our bakery is operational and we are introducing some brilliant new bakes and tastes.”

The Grocer understands the retailer is still working with suppliers to return some of the troublesome products to shelves. 

The audit came amid a wider separate reshuffle of Planet Organic’s food to go options, which has seen the closure of its Central Kitchen.

The business reopened the service following the Elliott’s buyback of the chain in April 2023 but had made the strategic decision to close the service in January after it became clear it would be unviable to continue.

Central Kitchen produced a small selection of baked goods and grab and go products across Planet Organic stores, as well as hot and cold dishes at a smaller number of branches. Planet Organic confirmed it had been consulting with affected colleagues, with Central Kitchen closing on 14 March. It did not confirm how many roles were affected as part of the closure. Its bakery would remain operational, Planet Organic said.

Elliott – who founded Planet Organic in 1995 – is working to stabilise the business, which she saved from administration as part of a consortium of buyers, including her husband Brian and former Planet Organic executives Peter Marsh and  Al Overton.

In a conference appearance in July 2023 – her first public talk since returning to the chain – Elliott did not rule out more parts of the business being closed down, or rationalised as part of efforts to reduce costs.

Her business plan would include a review of Planet Organic’s entire range, which would involve “redefining the product standard”, with the aim of 80% of the chain’s range eventually achieving fully organic status, Elliott said at the time.

The original pre-pack deal saw four Planet Organic stores close immediately. A fifth, in Balham, closed in September 2023, leaving the chain with nine stores, all based in London.