Can you tell us how/why you started your brand?

Established by school friends in 1991, Belazu is still run by Adam Wells, George Bennell and Charlie Hodges. From its origins as a specialist olive supplier to high end restaurants and one of the founding fathers of the 90s Mediterranean food revolution, the business has expanded to manufacture and supply a broad range of Mediterranean products to virtually every sector of the food industry.

We have a diverse workforce of 172 people that includes 29 different nationalities, this results in an open, respectful workplace. Sustainability has always been part of the business and since 2015 Belazu launched their current CSR program ‘The Journey Matters’, focusing on People, Product and Planet. .

We pride ourselves on making super soft ethical yoga clothes, if your brand had to be remembered for one thing, what would it be and why?

From inception Belazu has been obsessive about the quality of products. The philosophy centres on the notion that ingredients are at their best, as nature intended with the least interference. Organically, this mind-set on quality evolved into wider environmental, sustainability and social activities.

To give you a couple of the achievements we are particularly proud of;

• 3% of the profit is donated to charitable projects

• In 2018 2/3 employees volunteered for the Belazu Foundation, a total of 4600 hours

• We donate all edible surplus food to local charities via PlanZheroes

• Since 2013 we have been a zero waste to landfill company

• Year on year we reduce our energy and water consumption per manufactured unit

• We have our own borehole and use this for our pasteurisation processes

How do you ensure you stay on top of ethical/eco trends and ensure your brand is moving in the right direction as it constantly evolves?

The business has developed different programmes and projects to empower colleagues to take ownership and propose improvements. Sustainability is a broad and fast evolving topic, through collaboration with as many people as possible in the business we make sure sustainability and ethicality is implemented in every part of the business. The projects described below are some of the ways we focus on involving the different teams within Belazu and include both management through to people from the production floor.

- Plastic Project: We set up a reduce, re-use and recycle plastic project to enable us to achieve our target where 100% of finished product packaging and transit packaging is widely recyclable or compostable by 2025.

- Innovation Competition: Every year all employees have the chance to suggest how they would improve the business or provide positive solutions to work frustrations. This year the Innovation Competition focusses on Recycling, Reducing and Reusing the plastic within the business.

If you could share one tip for someone who wants to live more ethically and sustainably in 2019 what would it be and why?

I would focus on reducing your food waste, shop locally, buy only what you need, make an eat-me box for your housemates and use the Olio app if needed!

What is your favourite product and why?

Difficult to choose, but I wouldn’t be able to live without the Verdemanda olive oil. Not only because of the taste (and my love for fresh bread with olive oil), but also because the oil is made in the mill of Eduard Pons.

Eduard is one of our long-standing suppliers. Belazu has a team of buyers that know all our suppliers personally. Some, like Eduard, have been supplying their products for more than 20 years.

The Verdemanda olive oil was created during a visit of our founder George. He was visiting in early September and wanted fresh olive oil. Normally olives for oil are harvested in October-November, so the olives were still very young. The oil that came out at the end of the process was bright green and the taste is intense yet subtle. The taste, knowing where it comes from and how the people and products were treated makes this my favourite product.

And finally, is there anything you would like to share with our readers?

Since April Belazu has two beehives! Queen Beldi and Queen Kalamata’s hive are being cared for by four beekeepers within the business. In 2019 we were able to extract 11kg from Queen Beldi’s hive with the honey set to be used in our canteen and shared with all colleagues. Starting in 2020 everyone at Belazu will have the possibility to join the beekeepers to maintain the bees as part of our Employee Volunteering Programme. It teaches everyone about the importance of pollinators and increases their respect for fauna and flora.

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