Organic Articles: Enjoy Organic ­ What Happened ?

The Organic Consultancy

Enjoy Organic What Happened ?

Simon Wright
The Organic Consultancy

This article originally appeared in the May 2003 edition of Organic Business.

The recent announcement that Enjoy Organic was pulling out of all sectors except organic bakery products was a disappointment but not a surprise. I need to declare an interest here – I helped Enjoy MD Harriet Rhys Williams develop the company and worked very closely with her management team during their early days. My chief regret is that this thoroughly professional and enthusiastic team will now be disbanded as the Enjoy Organic brand is subsumed into parent company Rank Hovis McDougall’s bakery division.

The original vision of Enjoy was of an inclusive brand that brought new consumers to the organic sector and talked about organic in a less serious way than was the norm back in June 2000. In these terms Enjoy has been a success with consumers, going by the letters and website feedback we received. The commercial story was more mixed. Organic bread, rolls, morning goods and cakes all worked well from the off, whereas organic frozen meals only lasted a matter of weeks.

The chief problem with Enjoy was lack of support. It is no longer possible to build a significant modern food brand without considerable financial spend on advertising and promotion and Enjoy didn’t get it. So in this respect the partial failure of Enjoy has nothing to do with the organic sector, although I am sure there are pundits who will claim that this is a sign that the organic market is in dire straits. Companies such as Green & Black’s and Yeo Valley have shown that brand support builds sales I suspect the same would have been true for Enjoy.

There is a lesson here for the UK organic sector. We have too many small and medium-sized brands for the size of our market and many of these brands are not being adequately supported, due to low sales and thus lack of financial resource. The recent purchase of Whole Earth by Kallo will not be the last example of M & A (Mergers and Acquisitions) activity in the organic sector. My hope is that by brands coming together in this way the organic community will organise itself into commercially sustainable units which can then afford to invest in brand building to the benefit of everyone.