Exploring new and developing categories is nothing new for Liz Dunn, MOM’s regional wellness coordinator for the organic market. The East Coast chain, which operates 21 stores in four states, has focused on protecting and restoring the environment for decades. In September, it became the first grocery store in the United States, according to the Upcycled Food Association, to have created an in-store set dedicated solely to recycled products.
The mouthpiece includes recycled drinks, snacks, cosmetics and more.
“It’s a small, humble gesture, but I think it’s a harbinger of much bigger changes to come,” said Turner Wyatt, CEO and co-founder of the Upcycled Food Association.
Dunn is the Category Manager for a program called Lifestyle, a department that has typically included environmentally friendly CPG products. Below, she shares the journey to get more recycled products on the shelves.
What motivated the creation of this overall concept of recycled products?
Liz Dunn: We created some zero waste concepts as early as 2017 before it was generalized. That was before everyone had their own straw and you could get shampoo bars at Target. We were presenting plastic-free, endlessly reusable products, that sort of thing. It was very well received by our customers, so we did it again.
Upcycling seemed like the perfect next step after we had some zero waste concepts. MOM’s goal is to protect and restore the environment and our customers really listen to that.
How did you know the time was right for this?
LD: For a few years, I had studied the concept of recycled ingredients in consumer packaged products. The main category that I manage is body care. So I was starting to see it appear, but mainly abroad, mainly in Europe. And for the most part, I just saw it in the raw ingredients.
So it wasn’t actually, you know, finished goods that a customer could still buy. And I kind of kept that in mind and kept an eye out for when there would be actual products you could buy, made with recycled ingredients, that actually claimed to be made with recycled ingredients in in a way that would help consumers understand how that supply chain works.
I started working on the concept and a New Hope Network article came out on the Upcycled Food Association. I didn’t even know there was an Upcycled Food Association. So I contacted them.
It’s great here. How has this partnership evolved with the Upcycled Food Association?
LD: They were super excited because we’re the first retailer to feature these ingredients. They were great and introduced me to some of the vendors who either have UFA certification or are currently seeking it. It was very cool.