"I don't think sustainability should be seen as an industry because it's something that permeates all industries and
fields. Find whatever it is that specifically interests you and then put your heart and soul into it."
Snact is a company devoted to tackling waste. In 2013 the London based firm was originally set up to combine healthy food with sustainabiltity. Snact was started by Llana Taub and Michael Minch-Dixon who collected surplus fruit at London wholesale markets to then be turned into healthy snacks. We are part of a culture that has created a a criteria when it comes to selling food – large supermarket retailers erradicate a lot of stock for being too big, too small or too ugly. But the surplus snack firm wanted to put a change to this and argues that tonnes of good fruit and vegetables are rejected by shop shelves for no reason. The co-founders first started their business by collecting fruit by hand and now three years on they have grown enough to save fruit by the tonne rather than the kilo. This week Emily O'Dowd chats to Llana Taub one of Snact's co-founders who shares her background in the sustainable industry and how she would like to see her company develop as a concept and as a product.
Emily O’Dowd (EOD): What has led you to this role?
Llana Taub (LT): I completed a MSc in Environmental Technology about six years ago and that's when my interest in food sustainability really started - Michael, Snact's other co-founder, did the same MSc but a few years before. It was at an alumni dinner that we realised we both wanted to start our own business and we shared a passion for the food system. Before forming Snact ( @SnactNow ) I worked in sustainable finance for an asset manager in their Sustainable and Responsible Investment team. Then I moved to a global accountancy firm called ICAEW where I worked in their sustainability team lobbying for sustainability to play a bigger role in finance. The last job I had was helping to launch the Food Assembly (a french food company) in the UK. It took a while to get from "wanting to better the food system" to Snact today which makes healthy snacks from surplus produce but we got there!
EOD: What do you enjoy most about your role?
LT: That everything Snact creates is a result of our small team! We're still small and we all have our separate roles but there is of course overlap and that means when things happen, it's everyone's achievement and victory. I enjoy being my own boss and can't really ever imagine going back to a normal office job. I enjoy the freedom associated with it - I get to work when I want where I want. Sometimes this has limitations with our employees, but by in large we make things the way we want to make it, and for me, that's great.
EOD: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced in the industry?
LT: Starting a healthy snack company with no previous knowledge or experience of the food industry - that's a huge challenge. Neither Michael nor I had the relevant experience. Although we had our Masters and have had a business and sustainability background in our previous roles we lacked the knowledge about food manufacturing, food sales & marketing. We've had to learn very quickly whilst developing our company and our brand.
EOD: What advice would you give for someone starting work in the sustainable industry?
LT: I would say it is important to be genuinely interested and curious. I don't think sustainability should be seen as just an industry because it's something that permeates all industries and fields. Find whatever it is that specifically interests you and then put your heart and soul into it. It's only with a lot of will power that we will effectively create the change we need. A sustainable future needs motivated people who really want change!
Read Bio-Based World News' latest story about Snact and their partnership Tipa about their latest sustainable packaging solution here.
EOD: What single change would help develop the sustainable industry further?
LT: If I had the answer to that question, I could save the world... But I don't. I think we need a perfect storm of changes - behavioural, legislative, corporate and so on. It's only by bringing all these different facets together that we will create meaningful change.
EOD: Where would you like to see your company in 5 years’ time?
LT: I'd like Snact to become well-established and to have grown tremendously compared with today. I want our impact in the food industry to be much bigger! For that, we need Snact to become a more well-known and recognisable brand. Right now we focus on tackling fruit waste in the UK, in five years’ time I hope that we will have expanded that to other surplus sources and also other countries!
EOD: What is your favourite bio-based/sustainable product aside from your own product range?
LT: I never thought I'd be excited by cleaning products but I really like Splosh - once you see it, it seems too obvious and makes you wonder why all cleaning products aren't like that! It is a one off starter box which encourages customers to refill the chemicals rather than buying new ones. The products are all bio-based chemicals so it helps reduce packaging waste and filling our homes with environmentally harmful substances.
EOD: Thank you for you expertise and offering your experience Llana. We wish you every success and hope that Snact is able to reach its targets in the next five years.
Last week's 5 minutes with... Mark Geerts, CEO of PaperFoam.
Next week's 5 minutes with... Fanny Liao, Senior Vice President, Far Eastern Group
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