Meet-The-Buyer: NGE2018 (Part 1)

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Business is built on relationships; and trade shows are a great way to get conversations started. We are pleased to present the first in our ‘meet-the-buyer’ series: a Q&A with Planet Organic’s UK Buying Director, Al Overton. Al is attending the Naturally Good Expo in April, and will be a panelist on an export forum that we are delivering. Details to come.

What is your career background, and what does your current role entail?

I graduated as a Medical Herbalist in 1999 and have been involved in natural health retail ever since.  I have been at Planet Organic for 15 years; originally as a category buyer, and now as Buying Director – managing the buying, marketing and e-commerce functions within our business.

Can you give us an overview of Planet Organic, from your perspective?

Planet Organic is a speciality health food store, and has always had a rigorously applied product standard as to what we will and will not sell. Our customers come to us for food they can trust. They come to us for our breadth of range and for their dietary restrictions or lifestyle choices; whether it be organic, gluten-free, raw, vegan or gut-friendly. And they come to us for inspiration – new products are the lifeblood of our business. We have a first-to-market reputation, and are often the launch pad for new start-up brands or brands just entering the UK.  We have seven stores all within London as well as a busy trading website, with expansion plans to open more stores in London.

What are the trends that you are seeing in health, natural and organic products in your stores, and in the UK market more broadly?

Growth from plant-based and vegan, although with a more health-orientated (and less militantly ethical) focus. Growth in fermented foods, probiotics and all things gut health. Growth in snacking lines and single serve formats, although also a broadening of what could be considered snack food. Awareness (but still confusion) over sugar.  Huge increase in awareness of single use plastics and packaging generally.

What categories and/or types of products are you keen to discover while you are in Australia?

NEW products. Not just duplications of products that are already on the shelf, but real newness and innovation. Particularly within snacking, breakfast cereals or foods that can be volume sellers.  Brands who are looking to launch into the UK and are looking for a launch partner. Products with stand-out shelf appeal.

We look forward to the opportunity many Australian suppliers will have to meet international buyers; and to personally connect with them, be sure to keep an eye out for our Export Forum updates and booking page.