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Children's health and food
Good Food Programme
Matt Truman, co-founder and chair of True, shares his perspective on the Good Food Programme
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True is an investment and innovation firm that’s reimagining business. The company’s goals surpass profit and aspire to the kind of success in which everyone becomes a winner: the consumer, the company, the people and the planet. True believes this is the future of business and we’ll all profit from it.
“At True there are two key thought processes behind every investment decision. The first is to ask how the product or business aligns with where we think consumer habits are headed over the next 10 to 15 years. The second consideration, which is always given equal weight, is the business’s ethical or environmental, social and governance (ESG) impact.
“We believe, based on extensive data and insight, that the shift in consumer habits towards healthier products is a long-term, profitable one. While making healthier, alternative food brands more accessible, at all income levels, meets the social element of our ESG commitment. It could have a huge impact on health. That’s why we’re investing in healthy challenger brands.
“For example, our investment in Soul Fresh — a brand platform incorporating 12 healthy and alternative food brands, covering plant-based products, gut health and alternative milks — is a long-term play. Looking at the significant differences in consumption habits of 20-year-olds today, compared to my generation, we’re aligning our strategy to product suites that reflect this change.
“We have access to cutting-edge food start-ups, where you are seeing a proliferation of health brands, to growing food businesses, right through to industry giants. This insight tells us the biggest challenge facing food businesses looking to scale, whatever size or stage they’re at, is consumer awareness of their healthier innovations.
“This challenge is matched by the fact that the movement towards health is not yet in a place of high volume and mass distribution. For healthy products to become truly mainstream, the industry, with support from investors, needs to find a way to replicate premium brands’ success for all consumers, including those on lower incomes. Achieving this would be the holy grail.
“Industry innovation and investment is essential to overcome these challenges. It’s even more important in the wake of the pressure added by the cost-of-living crisis. There are big conflicts of interest between the health and wellbeing agenda, supermarkets who want to shift volume and consumers who need the cheapest possible basket to feed their children.
“There’s also a role for government and for investors to help to push health and healthier challenger brands out to the mass market. That’s why the collaboration between different stakeholders made possible by the Good Food Programme is needed.
“More forceful regulation of unhealthy products could make a real difference. HFSS regulation was a neat way of starting to show that people’s health is equally balanced with corporations’ profit. It’s sad that the government is putting profit ahead of tackling the health epidemic in this country.
“And to investors, I’d say ‘Be brave’. We see health and sustainability as a 20-year tidal wave in the same way the internet was. In a difficult market environment, there are fantastic opportunities to buy great companies and innovative technologies, and to invest behind great leaders and entrepreneurs focused on improving the health of people and the planet. There’s never going to be a better time to invest in healthy challenger brands than when everyone else is running scared.”