"This project is still live and in need of support," said Adnan Durrani, founder and CEO of Saffron Road, the first food brand to join the cause.
Since the project was first launched by The KIND Foundation and Project N95 in April, more than 50 CPG companies from Mars Wrigley and Nestlé to Justin’s and Saffron Road have joined, supplying thousands of units of products to frontline workers across the country.
As of last week, the Frontline Impact Project added several food and beverage brands to its list of partners including Zico coconut water, Lenny & Larry’s plant-based protein cookies, Over Easy high protein breakfast bars, OCHO organic candy, Kabaki Tea, and natural energy drink brand, Adrenaline Shoc. The project has helped more than 316,000 frontline workers with the highest number of requests coming from hospitals, nursing facilities and outpatient medical clinics, followed by hospice and emergency medical services.
Since joining the project, Saffron Road has been shipping out its frozen meals and shelf-stable products to healthcare and other frontline organizations who needed their most basic needs met during the crisis: fast, nutritious nourishment.
“It was a way to amplify our impact and get meals to those most in need,” Durrani told FoodNavigator-USA.
Durrani added it can be difficult for food and beverage brands to find an organization or cause that effectively responds to needs during an unprecedented crisis such as COVID-19.
“We had been participating in February in a number of programs, but we kept running into this bottleneck where the people who were providing the first responders with meals at hospitals would often reject them because they had nowhere to put and store frozen meals.”
The Frontline Impact Project solved those roadblocks by vetting and connecting with over 3,000 healthcare institutions and providing a simple process for food and beverage brands to complete requests for different food needs.
“It’s done in a very organized fashion and we can ship it out that same day because timing is critical,” said Durrani.
Founder of Justin’s, Justin Gold, said that as a mission-based company, joining the Frontline Impact Project was a no brainer for him.
“We have people that are putting their lives at risk to help others and they need food and they need nourishment and we have high quality, protein-packed product that was perfect for something like that,” Gold told this publication.
To date, Justin’s has donated approximately 2,400 units of product (e.g. nut butter jars, squeeze packs, and peanut butter cups) to first responders across the US and its home state of Colorado.
“We’re honestly giving away whatever we can...That’s what we’ve been doing day in and day out, every day," said Gold.
‘Great organizations are defined by how they handle tough situations’
It’s hard to say what the food landscape and consumer demand might look like months from now, but Durrani believes that the frozen and shelf-stable food categories will continue to benefit from strong consumer demand.
Underlying basic demands for easy-to-prepare, better-for-you foods will be a consumer shift towards ‘ethical consumerism’, defined as the practice of purchasing products and services that support the resolution of social, environmental, and societal issues, he claimed.
According to Euromonitor International, the global ethical label market for packaged food and non-alcoholic drinks was worth an estimate of US$1 trillion in 2018 and it is expected to grow by 18.5% by 2023, based on research conducted in 26 key markets.
“We feel that’s a movement that’s being fueled even more forward,” said Durrani.
'Great organizations are defined by how they handle tough situations'
According to Durrani, just as consumers have grown more vigilant about the health profile of their food and beverage purchases, they’re also looking for brands that have a values-based mission.
Through its variety of meals and snacks that incorporate the flavors and ingredients of many international cuisines, Durrani believes that Saffron Road’s mission of celebrating ethnic diversity and cultural harmony is more relevant than ever.
And as the US continues to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and other huge social issues, it's important for the food industry to use its power and reach to respond and bring about change, said Gold.
“I think great organizations are defined by how they handle tough situations,” said Gold.
“We’re not up against the competition, we’re all in this together to solve a problem whether it’s an environmental crisis or it’s a social crisis.”