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01 Feb 2023

Meet the award winner: Two Farmers

Meet the award winner: Two Farmers

Speciality & Fine Food Fair speaks to Sean Mason, Founder of Two Farmers, following the company winning Sustainability Pioneer of the Year at the 2023 Speciality & Fine Food Fair Awards. 

How did it feel for Two Farmers to win ‘Sustainability Pioneer of the Year’ at the 2023 Speciality & Fine Food Fair Awards?

In 2018, we launched our brand at the Speciality & Fine Food Fair - so to have been awarded ‘Sustainability Pioneer of the Year’ five years on means the world! To know that the awards have recognised us for something we set out to achieve is very special.

What do Two Farmers do, and where are some of the places you’re stocked?

We're incredibly proud to be the UK's first plastic-free crisp brand. Our range of hand-cooked crisps is packaged in fully compostable packets made from sustainable cellulose, plus plant-based ink and glues. The packet breaks down into water, carbon dioxide and biomass between 26 and 38 weeks (the same applies if the packet ever meets seawater) - approximately 99.13% faster than the ordinary crisp packet.

Our crisps are available in six delicious Herefordshire-inspired flavours and are made using our home-grown potatoes and quality local ingredients. Today, we work with over 2,000 retailers, including Gloucester Services, Gail's Bakery, Harvey Nichols, Darts Farm, Chester Zoo, Eden Project, Bayley & Sage, Eurostar, and Google Head Office. In June 2023, we returned to Glastonbury Festival to be the only crisp brand sold by traders throughout the event for the second year, saving over 70,000 plastic packets going to landfill after the event.

Two Farmers

Why is sustainability such an important topic for Two Farmers?

We always knew we wanted to make our own crisps, but bringing another plastic packet into the market was not an option. As farmers, we saw first-hand the impact plastic waste had on the environment, particularly litter in hedgerows across the countryside. But we didn't know how much of a hot topic plastic would be in the years to come. Sustainability for us goes beyond packaging; our potatoes are grown and harvested within two miles of the production facility, where they are graded, stored, cooked and packed. The whole process uses renewable energy, thanks to an on-site anaerobic digester powered by energy crops, potatoes, and farm and crop waste.

What are some of the challenges of being sustainable as a crisp producer?

As with all untrodden ground, research and development are continuous. As the UK first, the first generation packet took three years to get to the launch stage in 2018. In 2020, we launched a new-generation packet with an additional layer of cellulose, which enabled the product to have an extended shelf life due to consumer demand.

Consumer understanding of compostable packaging is still in its infancy. Although reducing single-use plastic is so prevalent today, our plastic-free and compostable solution retails at a slightly higher price, and there has been a need to help consumers understand why the price point is higher than your standard bag of crisps and encourage them to make the swap.

What steps do you take to reduce your carbon footprint as a business?

Low food miles have always been our priority, and we continue to partner with local producers and growers to create our range of unique flavours. From packets to tape, all packaging elements are plastic-free, and we also offer crisps in 100% recyclable 100g and 500g tins, which we encourage consumers to reuse or repurpose.

Our farm processes are also powered by renewable energy, including energy generated by on-site solar panels and the AD plant. In addition, we use high-spec technologies to increase efficiency, and methods of green cropping are carried out to protect and enrich the soil. Over the last five years, we have seen substantial savings on the farm as we work towards becoming carbon neutral - this includes a reduction of 21250KgCo2/year thanks to solar panels installed in 2022. As a sustainable brand, we're delighted to have achieved other recognition and accreditations alongside Sustainability Pioneer of the Year, such as LEAF Marque, Red Tractor, and SALSA.

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