Innocent

We sure aren't perfect, but we're trying to do the right thing.

Monday 1 June 2009, by Alexander Losten, Jordi Coll, Linda Magnusson

5 inspired

ABOUT THE COMPANY

Innocent Drinks is a British company dedicated to the production of smoothies. The company started as a small company in 1998, selling their products from a stall in a small music festival in London. Since then, they have expanded their business substantially. Today the company they sell 2 million Smoothies per week. The business has also expanded internationally and is now present in United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Denmark and Sweden.

Innocent sells different beverages, but mainly smoothies. A Smoothie is “a blended, chilled, sometimes sweet beverage made from fresh fruit or vegetables. In addition to fruit, many smoothies include crushed ice, frozen fruit, honey or frozen yogurt, although some smoothies are 100% fruit.” The regular Innocent smoothie consists of fresh fruit, although other ingredients can also be found in some drinks. Apart from the permanent recipes, Innocent drinks also produce “Seasonal Smoothies”, which include ingredients of the current season, and “Guest Smoothie”, which consist in new recipes. As the company grew, new products were made: for instance, Thickies, a mix of probiotic yoghurt and fruit; superfruit smoothies, which are specifically high of one particular nutrient; orange juice and a line of smoothies for kids.

Its current UK smoothie market share is 71%, a remarkable figure taking into account that the company was founded in 1999. Its formula is so successful that even Coca-Cola decided to purchase the 20% of Innocent’s shares. Another illustrating fact for assessing company performance is that it was the only company to appear every year from 2004 to 2007 in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100, a list of the fastest growing private companies in the UK. In those four years, innocent Drinks revenues more than doubled.

Innocent has created a foundation with 18 partner organisations which include working on different projects around the world, primarily in countries were the innocent drinks sources their fruits.

ETHICAL CHALLENGES

The combination of business and ethics is possible as long as the company involved makes its best to avoid harming third parties. The case of Innocent is a good example of a company that is able not only to produce goods respecting the environment, but also to give some of its profits to charity. For instance, it uses green electricity to run its operations and all its ingredients are natural. Moreover, it is clearly identified as an ethical and committed company among its consumers. It is so their ethical success that they have become a cult of a brand for its consumers.

The strong values of Innocent Smoothies are appealing because they take action whenever there is anything that can be improved. For example, they convinced their UK bottle manufacturer to increase the percentage of recycled plastic in its containers. This is also a proof that their ethical commitment goes beyond the inside of the company, since it positively affects third parties like their suppliers .

ETHICAL POLICY & TRUST

Innocent only uses 100% healthy and renewable ingredients for its drinks. What is put inside the bottle is only what can be found in nature. The foods used are also the ones that are generally good for people; free from concentrates and superficial additives.

Buying the foods from farmers that look after their workers and the nature is of highest priority. Therefore Innocent favors farms certified from independent environmental and social organizations and pays premiums to fruit farms with the highest ethical accreditations; ex. Rainforest Alliance certified.

Since not all the distributors are covered by some kind of certificate, Innocent has its own standards when buying their products. Farms are checked on labour conditions to appropriate growth techniques, trying to ensure a fair deal for growers, workers, the environment and the country. Innocent does however realize that growers can’t be perfect, but they expect them to abide to minimum standards and improve, year by year.

For packaging the beverages, Innocent aims at fulfilling 4 sustainability criteria:
-  Use bottles that are made from 100% recyclable material.
-  Use least amount of material as possible.
-  Use materials with low carbon footprint.
-  Use materials with widespread sustainable waste management.

The caps are made from PE, a basic and 100% recyclable plastic. Labels are made from 25% recycled materials and 75% paper certified by Forest Stewardship Council. Furthermore the company is working to find and alternative to glue, and are moving towards only using vegetable ink. Outers are made from 100% recycled paper.

Innocent is working to reduce its carbon footprints and is working with Carbon Trust and the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Management to work out the Carbon footprint for the entire business system. In every step the company is working with reducing the emissions in their business practice.

On an individual level the company tries to make the employees aware of their impact on the environment, thereby committing themselves to various initiatives:
-  Sourcing ingredients locally.
-  Having a “No air freight” policy.
-  Using alternatives to fossil fuels when they exist.
-  Thinking before moving by air.
-  Asking suppliers to use green energy.

Another ethical aspect of the company practice is that it distributes some of its profit towards those in need. Every year Innocent donates 10% of the company’s profit to charity, mainly the “Innocent Foundation” which funds rural development projects in supplier countries. The company aims to supporting people in agriculturally producing countries in order to allow for a sustainable and improved future.

In addition to this, they show in their web page all the projects they get involved in, as well as the donations they make through their Innocent Foundation . One can enter their web and see what goes on and where is going the money for charity. For instance, The ITWWS (Irula Tribal Women’s Welfare Society) is one of the NGOs that the innocent foundation supports through WOMANKIND Worldwide in the UK .
Apart from all the stated above, what makes the company trustworthy is the fact that they have kept the philosophy with which they began eight years ago. They started as an ethical and committed company with brand values and stuck to them.

COMPANY OUTLOOK AND FUTURE IMPROVEMENTS

Innocent as we already mention working with 18 different help-organisations, their plan for the future is to continue corporate with them. Their decisions will be based on the interest of the producers and the customers so all partners have a part of taking care of the planet. They also want to, in a small way help to “make business good” as well as profitable. Innocent will continue to work trying to prove that there is a profit in business doing “the right thing”.

Coca-cola invested in Innocent a while ago, and now owns 20% of the company but it’s still the founders who make all the decisions. The problem for Innocent is now to keep up their reputation as an “innocent” company after coca-colas investment. Innocent has to continue to prove that they are still working ethically like before and that their vision, mission and business in practice will remain the same. As response to the Coca-Cola acquisition of Innocent stocks, the founders wrote a letter to their customers stating that: the Coca-Cola investment was just an opportunity grow since the company is already a globally established market leader. Stakeholders were promised that the business would continue to strive for improving its business without compromising any ethical aspects.

The overall future challenge facing Innocent is to improve their business practice as much as possible, and continue to show that profit and being ethical are not opposites.

Bibliography

http://www.innocentdrinks.co.uk/AGM/innocent_annual_report_2007.pdf
http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/en/Case-Studies/All-Case-Studies/Innocent-Smoothies/Creating-brand-values--and-sticking-to-them/
http://innocentdrinks.typepad.com/innocent_drinks/helen_in_india/
http://www.innocentdrinks.co.uk/
http://www.ethicalcorp.com/content.asp?ContentID=4932

Start a new discussion

3 Discussions / 3 Messages

  • Innocent 20 June 2012 at 00:24 , by ainoa.ryll

    I find a little surprising to find this company on the website, not because I doubt that is ethical, it’s just because I’m a frequent user of it and now it’s even nicer to drink their juices.

    I like the fact of mixing healthy drinks with sustainability, because we have to take care of both systems, our own one, and the environment we have around us.

    Despite the fact of the price, it’s quite more expensive than others, it’s something I pay with pleasure, knowing that I’m drinking something healthy and enjoying a really good taste of fruit.

    We have to change the habits and not only the ones of eating, the ones of producing and transporting too and these juices are a combination of that. It also shows that a simple product like a juice, can change something and that’s the begining of everything: the little things.

  • Innocent 27 February 2013 at 23:14 , by Philipp Stemper

    The way this company does its business is exactly what I would imagine when thinking about a perfect company. On the one hand, profit is one of the most important factors in its strategy, but on the other hand INNOCENT also keeps the ethical aspect not only in mind but challenges it. I have never seen or heard about a company having such a perfect business model. This company is a real transformative enterprise, not only being a "good citizen" in the respective country and thus satisfying the rules and regulations that are given, but also exceeding them and at the same time helping other companies improve their own "ecological and ethical balances".

    The fact that this company not only uses ethical procedures in the downstream parts of the supply chain where a customer will more likely notice it, but also upstream is a good indicator for a real ethical motivation.

    I am really impressed how this company is able to combine the profitability and the green fingerprint in its complete business and thus makes it my
    _DREAMBUSINESS_

  • Innocent - The big knit 1 March 2013 at 12:31 , by Leonieke

    I think Innocent manages to find the perfect combination between high quality products and making profit with this on the one hand, and maintaining an accessible and highly enthically aware image on the other hand. Concerning the first, I think they produce the best juices ever, it tastes as if someone has just poured it out of the blender! Also the prices are not excessively high, in the Netherlands they are comparable to the 100% fruit juices of the supermarket´s own brand. Concerning the latter, they really maintained their authentic personal image, with funny quotes such as ¨Shake before opening, not after¨ on their packaging, which makes you laugh and increases your perception of people making the product, rather than one big anonymous firm.

    The project that I love most of Innocent is their ¨Big Knit¨ campaign, or ¨De goedgemutste breicampagne¨ in Dutch. For this project, Innocent asks their customers to knit and send little woolen hats to put on the juice bottles, during the whole month of January. For each bottle with little hat sold, the company donates 25p (in the UK) or 20cts (in the Netherlands) to a charity fund that helps lonely elderly to keep warm and well during the winter. You can see pictures and more information on this campaign here: http://www.innocentdrinks.co.uk/bigknit.

    This company really inspires me, because it shows that it is possible to grow rapidly but maintain your initial thoughts and values!

Location: London (United Kingdom of Great Britain)

Sector: beverages

Official website: http://www.innocentdrinks.co.uk/

Key figures:

Founded: 1998 in London by Richard Reed, Jon Wright and Adam Balon
Number of Employees: 270
Countries of operations: United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Denmark and Sweden
Vision: "To be the Earth’s favourite little food company."
Annual Revenue: £100+ million
Market Share: 71% of UK smoothie market and 14% in total in active markets

Nbr. visits: 2574

Nbr. inspires: 5