Debbie & Andrew's has been forced to delay plans for the first major relaunch of the family-run sausage brand over fears about packaging recycling.
The pig-farming couple turned sausage makers were due to relaunch the range this autumn using the controversial polylactic acid (PLA) packaging, but have now shelved the idea over concerns about its recyclability as most councils do not have the facilities to process the material.
The company has instead developed new sugar-starch based packaging for the range, which will now hit the shelves in January. It has also invested £35,000 in redesigning the packaging into portrait format to give greater shelf standout, as well as using pairs of wellies on pack fronts rather than the owners to better reflect its "country" roots.
"We wanted to relaunch around this month but had concerns about the compostability status of PLA and how it can affect the recyclability of other plastics," said joint founder Andrew Keeble. "It rang a lot of alarm bells. But we will keep a watching brief on PLA."
Concerns have been mounting over the use of the bioplastic material for some time and last week smoothie maker Innocent ended trials of PLA bottles and switched to 100%-recycled plastic (The Grocer, 3 November, p6).
Keeble said he hoped the redesigned range would better show off his brand's environmental credentials. " We wanted to emphasise our integrity and farming links. The artwork looks more artisan and ties into our links with the land."
Debbie & Andrew's is also planning to run television commercials within a year and is on target to increase its £3m annual turnover to £10m within three years, added Keeble, who set up the business in 1999 after 20 years of pig farming.
"We don't have pots of money but we do a lot of consumer shows, samples and in-store demos," he said. "But by September next year we aim to expand our marketing to include television."