For Organic September, we interviewed a founding member of the OTB and creators of organic juice brand, Pip Organic: Karen and Patrick O’Flaherty. They told us how the business first came about and their passion and commitment to making healthy organic accessible to all.
Healthy organic foundations They met when Patrick was working in finance and Karen was working for a Brand Strategy Group where she ran a number of campaigns for the NHS (including the 5 a day campaign) and the Soil Association.
Karen says “Working on the 5 a day campaign and for the Soil Association, along with some health issues in my early twenties made me really think about what I was eating, and it happened around the time that I met Patrick. We started thinking about how we could create a product that was nutritionally and environmentally positive and also engaging.”
Patrick saw first-hand the benefits of farming organically in South Africa when he was growing up. His paternal grandmother was an English organic poultry farmer, who followed Lady Balfour’s organic farming principles. The animal welfare and quality of her chickens brought customers from afar to buy her products. But he also gained an insight into non-organic farming as his maternal grandfather was a maize and dairy farmer who focused on innovation and increasing yields for the short term.
The initial idea was to have a chain of juice cafes, then they realised that there was a gap in the market for an organic juice product. They looked at different farming methods for the supply of the fruit and veg they were using, and this affirmed their commitment to organic – with its certification standards they felt it offered a trustworthy, uncompromising solution. So, they started selling organic juice at Borough market.
Patrick says that“Brands like ours have helped democratise organic, taking it to a wider audience than ever before. Borough market was the cornerstone in setting up our business, then demand came from consumers that they wanted a more convenient product, so in 2012 the Pip Organic brand was born.”
Married and with their first child, it was a natural progression for the product focus to be on children. Karen says, “We wanted to offer healthy, tasty organic fruit juice products that children would like and that parents could trust and feel good about giving to them.”
Organic innovation Since 2012, the brand has grown and developed, alongside their children who provide expert opinion on creativity and taste. The product range includes Cold pressed juices, Smoothies, Fruity Waters and Fruity Ice Lollies.
Last year they launched their Fruity Rainbow Lollies with Cheeky Veg, Karen talks about the idea behind the lollies “We have a Pip Parent Panel and they told us one of the things they struggle with is encouraging their children to eat more fruit and veg.”
“We could see that there weren’t many products out there that had a good balance of the two. Adding veg to the lolly meant including veg texture and flavour in a subtle way, whilst at the same time lowering the natural sugar content. We got our children involved in the recipes to make sure we had the right balance, so it is still a tasty treat. The feedback we have had has been so positive.”
Patrick added that “We were really proud when the new lollies won Best New Product in this year’s Soil Association BOOM Awards, and overall our products have won over 50 Great Taste Awards. We’ve also been named a Great Taste Producer which we believe builds trust in our brand.”
Supply and demand Ocado and Abel & Cole have been customers since the beginning with the plan to supply online retailers before bricks and mortar. Pip recently started supplying Waitrose with their Coldpressed Juices and Fruity Ice Lollies and are currently doing a trial in Sainsbury’s Brands for the Future initiative.
Pip also supplies indie retailers including As Nature Intended, Better Food Company, Planet Organic, the Ethical Superstore, Whole Foods Market and many other independent retailers, delis and farm shops.
Foodservice sector Supplying a wide range of settings from education, travel, leisure such as coffee chains, soft play and theme parks, as well as the hospitality industry, Patrick is really proud that “The top three operators in the Soil Association’s Out To Lunch League Table are all customers of ours. The wide range of outlets where our products are available illustrates how we are all about taking organic mainstream.”
“We are seeing people focusing on the value of the food they eat in terms of health and environment. We are optimistic that this growth in organic will continue as people get a better understanding of how organic farming benefits health and the environment with the help of the OTB and the Soil Association.”
“A lot of operators are understanding the benefits of including products that are good for health and environment on their menus and are seeing how that can have a positive impact on their business too.”
Founding member of the Organic Trade Board Their commitment to organic is evident through their support of the OTB. Patrick told us that the reason they were involved in setting up the OTB was to make organic as mainstream and accessible as possible – which is very much aligned with Pip Organic’s vision. Patrick added “We set up the OTB to work together as an industry to increase the sales of organic products in the UK. The year-on-year achievements of the OTB has been remarkable and with the limited resource available, it has been able to support and grow the sector especially through the various marketing campaigns.”
Organic September 2019 and beyond Pip Organic will be taking part in a combination of direct activity with their customers as well as Instagram and Facebook for Organic September and they will be getting involved in the Organic. Feed Your Happy campaign too. Karen says “Organic September is a great way to remind people that we are an organic brand and the reasons to choose organic. September is also a big month for us as it’s Back to School so we will be combining the organic messaging with back to school messaging.”
Beyond Organic September, the New Year will bring an exciting new product range launch to kick off 2020. For more information on Pip Organic, visit their website here and to stay up to date with all their latest news follow them on Instagram,Facebook or Twitter.