Snack brand aims to plant forests to cut climate threat

Forest Feast, the Co Armagh-based producer of plant-based snacks, is supporting a campaign to preserve the environment by planting millions of trees.

By Sam Butler
Saturday, 25th June 2022, 7:00 am

The hugely successful snack brand, which is owned by family business Kestrel Foods at Carn Industrial Estate in Craigavon and has a long-standing tradition of sourcing ingredients sustainably for its award-winning products from developing nations like the Philippines, has now teamed up with Ecologi, a Bristol-based initiative to promote positive climate action.

The family company has long worked with the Preda organisation in the Philippines to ensure small farming communities fair prices for their products, sustainable environmental practices and access to education.

Owned by progressive entrepreneur Michael Hall and is family, Kestrel is supporting Ecologi to plant a tree for every order received for its range of gourmet dried fruit and nut snacks and ACTISNACK healthy foods for active pursuits. The company is heavily involved in the Northern Ireland community and also operates waste management and recycling programmes.

The award-winning Forest Feast luxury snacks from natural fruits and nuts from Craigavon

The Armagh company is a major supplier of snacks to top retailers such as Sainsbury, Waitrose, Ocado and Tesco. Products are exported worldwide. It

also recently acquired Just Live a Little, a successful Northern Ireland granola brand, to expand its portfolio of healthier crafted products.

Michael, referring to the support for Ecologi, continues: “The focus on creating a more plant positive country is completely in line with our own ethos on addressing climate crisis by implementing our own measures to help preserve our precious environment. Our entire product range is inspired by our world’s forests, orchards, groves and wetlands. Their abundance and diversity of fruits and nuts is clearly a reminder to us to look for ways to preserve, reserve and revive these important resources.”

Planting a tree was an effective way to counter the climate crisis by reducing carbon dioxide.

Michael Hall of Kestrel Foods in Craigavon, a pioneer of plant-based snack foods under the Forest Feast is backing a campaign to tackle the climate crisis by planting more trees worldwide

He explains: “Climate change affects everyone, in every country, on every continent. We all need to act now to protect our beautiful world. We were thoroughly impressed by the leadership and positive action provided by the Ecologi team and decided to join the many other businesses helping with funds to plant millions of trees everywhere to help counter climate change.”

Ecologi was founded by Elliott Coad, wife Lucy Jack and their friend Alex Price in Bristol in 2019 with the ultimate dream to plant “a million trees an hour”.

Ecologi, which uses subscriptions to pay for environmental projects, received funding from the investment group General Catalyst towards its objectives. The climate activists describe their business as a “subscription service for the planet”. Ecologi, for example, has been paying for millions of mangrove trees to be planted in Madagascar to help absorb carbon.

Elliot is experienced in product and development, and Lucy is a website designer with a flair for illustration and branding. Alex is a talented developer and entrepreneur.

Ecologi is now backed by nearly 16,000 individual members and more than 6,000 businesses. It works with groups like US-based Eden Reforestation

Project that pays local people to plant trees in their own areas.

Elliott says it all began by looking at their own carbon footprints: “What good the equivalent of one coffee could do if I spent that money on climate action instead. When I looked into it I was blown away that I could offset my entire carbon footprint for about £5 a month, plus plant about 140 trees a year.”

They quickly realised that the biggest challenge facing everyone is that “we don’t have time on our side. We need everyone to pull together to meet the challenge now.”

Just one year ago the community had planted a million-and-a-half trees. Now a million are planted every 10 days. Some 43 million trees have been planted which have absorbed almost 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. Climate change, they, believe can be tackled effectively.

“It is up to us to solve it. Reducing our carbon footprint is entirely necessary, but the transition of change is far slower than the time we have remaining,” he adds. “We all have to pull together to do whatever we can. Billions need to become empowered to meet the global challenge now.”

They developed a platform which worked “by letting people around the world calculate their carbon footprint based on where they live and their lifestyle”.

Investments were then used to plant trees, particularly mangroves, as they captured much more carbon than other species, and to fund renewal energy

projects.

They chose the name ‘Ecologi’ because they saw two great threats to humanity. One is global heating, but the other is loss of biodiversity, both of which are interlinked.

What they are most proud about Ecologi is that it provides much-needed hope to those who are feeling helpless about the climate crisis.