After five years of working with suppliers on developing a plan to rid its shelves of artificial colours, grocery chain Harris Farms has today officially dumped all food and drink products containing the chemical compounds.
In a market-leading move, Harris Farms now claims to be the only major grocery provider in the country with a commitment to zero artificial colours in the food and drinks it sells via the implementation of a new sourcing policy.
The company, which has more than 27 stores in NSW and Queensland, says all of the food and drinks on its shelves now contain no artificial colours. It adds that the "majority" of its concession partners have also removed artificial colours except for its cafe partners and notes "change can take time".
As such, Harris Farms co-CEO Tristan Harris says the business’ shelves contain food "as it should be - perfectly driven and coloured by nature".
“Anything artificial colours can do, nature can do better,” says Harris.
“For the past five years we have been working with our suppliers to find new methods of production if needed and alternative ingredients if required.
“Now, our pasta sauces, dips, juices, peanut butter, cookie dough, curry pastes, chocolates, soups, noodles and even orange juices just to name a few, are all free of artificial colouring.”
Harris adds that many suppliers had already wanted to remove artificial colours from their products, and that Harris Farms’ decision sped up their plans.
“It has meant, however, that some product lines have been eliminated, because we have to stand firm on our commitment,” he says.
“We take immense pride in what we sell, and even more pride in what we don’t sell, and from now on, we don’t sell food with artificial colours. We are also incredibly proud to be the only major grocery provider in the country to be now artificial colour free.”
To achieve this milestone, Harris says Harris Farms worked closely with suppliers including grocery wholesaler The Market Grocer, artisan chocolatier Koko Black, hand-crafted dip purveyor Fresh Fodder, butcher Salumi Australia and acclaimed pastry chef Anna Polyviou.
“Nature’s colours are bold and beautiful – just look at our in-season tomatoes, a ripe orange, a freshly cut beetroot, a just-picked lemon or a full head of broccoli,” says Harris.
“Nature doesn’t need help making colours brighter – just spill some turmeric and you’ll see!.”
According to Harris, the decision to ditch artificial colours was driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, which got many more Australians thinking about their health and immunity and inspired a return to home cooking.
“There’s more reading of labels, more questioning of provenance, and a much deeper understanding of where food comes from now,” he says.
“We applaud this; our new sourcing policy means a healthier and cleaner alternative for families every day. It means we are now both driven and coloured by nature.”
Polyviou says being part of Harris Farms’ commitment is challenging, but says the grocery chain supported her business every step of the way.
“I learnt of Harris Farms’ Coloured by Nature commitment when I first tried to get my products on their shelves. By being knocked back initially, I learnt about Harris Farms’ standards, and if I wanted to be a supplier, I needed to meet those. It was a whole new ballgame for me and my team,” says Polyviou.
“The team at Harris Farm worked with us, they nurtured us, they said ‘allow us to help you’ which was unique. It also started a domino effect, and made us research more about ingredients, and about the products that go into our products. The result is a product that is loved by everybody.
“Seeing the cookie dough products in boxes on the pallets, and then loaded on the truck, and then seeing it on the shelves at Harris Farm’s made me cry. I pinched myself to make sure it was really happening. But it was and it is still happening, and we are proud to be part of their family, and part of the Coloured by Nature commitment.”
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