Princes embraces rapidly emerging trends with unique retailer ‘Co-Labs’ innovation platform


International food and drink group Princes is expanding its market-leading innovation strategy with a new co-creation initiative for retailers.

Co-Labs will help retailers embrace emergent trends, utilise cutting edge technology

and leverage insight to identify products that will prove commercially successful.

Alan Eriksen, marketing director at Princes Group, said: “The last 18 months has seen the biggest shift in global, social and consumer trends in decades. And it doesn’t stop changing. We have absolute belief that our now 3,000-strong consumer community and our truly unique take on food and drink innovation is the blueprint for how retailers can keep pace.

“Co-Labs will see us partner with retailers to leverage our unique community to provide real-time insights into the categories that matter to them most, helping to create and refine future-fit innovation that meets their changing consumer needs head-on. Our Trend Book identifies what each trend means for innovation and the benefits to the consumer. It’s a powerful combination of market knowledge and consumer insight retailers will find invaluable.”

Princes’ innovation arm, Innov8, was set up by the Liverpool-based company in 2019, creating a dedicated team that focuses on developing industry-leading products and overcoming some of the biggest sector-wide issues.

The innovation team has launched a number of ground-breaking products since its inception, including U:ME Spice Shots, Princes Fruit Pots, Princes Plant-Based Ready Meals and the Plot 9 Plant-Based Range – all made it to the final of The Grocer New Product Awards.

Innov8 is a unique partnership between Princes Group and KICR – a young innovation consultancy formed in 2018 to address the two key challenges that many food and drink operations face – innovation agility and embedding the consumer viewpoint as part of the innovation process. This has, Princes says, been the foundation of its recent successes. The Innov8 team spans packaging, brand, category, culinary and product innovation for brands and customer own label products.

The 3,000-strong consumer community, which has grown from a panel of 800 in 2019, will be used as part of the Co-Labs platform to provide product feedback, co-create concepts, deliver essential category understanding and trial products. These insights can be drilled down to views on specific retailers and branded and own label ranges, fuelling ground-breaking co-creation projects.

Princes’ Innovation Kitchen at its Royal Liver Building headquarters, part of the initial £5m investment made by the Group in innovation in 2019, is a state-of-the-art facility with a prep area, showcase space and interactive ideation and breakout area, which will be used for the Co-Labs initiative to host live product testing and demonstrations, as well as interactive workshops.

The Trend Book packages trend knowledge from multiple reputable data sources, bringing these to life for valuable use. The short, medium and long-term mega and macro trends identified will ensure retailers can keep their finger on the pulse of the changing landscape and its impacts on consumer behaviour, alongside Princes. Then, by deep diving into the micro trends, the Co-Labs will be able to explore the hot opportunity areas for future growth whilst keeping the thinking firmly planted in consumer needs. Granular detail is provided on each trend, including evidential data and product examples to make the book as user friendly and useful as possible. In addition, there’s the ‘so what’ which provides suggestions as to how this trend might be used when creating strategy or driving food knowledge into businesses.

Princes Group’s Trend Book is available on its website


Co-op ‘Treating People Fairly’ Sustainability Award


We’re celebrating receiving a Co-op ‘Treating People Fairly’ Sustainability Award that recognises Princes’ pioneering approach to supply chain transparency. The judging panel was made up of sustainability experts whose comments were shown during the awards ceremony:


Sustainable packaging progress to cut Princes CO2 emissions by 1,100 tonnes


Ongoing projects will remove 900 tonnes of plastic from product packaging

Packaging projects at Princes, and its range of brands, are set to reduce carbon emissions by 1,100 tonnes and remove 900 tonnes of plastic (the equivalent of over 26 million plastic bottles[1]) from product packaging across the Group, annually.

These projects include weight reductions across edible oils and soft drinks bottles for customer own brands. Princes’ popular Jucee brand is also switching to 100% recycled plastic bottles for its fruit squash range, while Napolina has moved its core pasta range from plastic into cardboard.

These and other plastic reduction initiatives have led to almost 2,000 tonnes of plastic being removed from 2018 to 2020, representing a 6% decrease across the Group.

David McDiarmid, Corporate Relations Director at Princes, said: “Princes has made significant progress in advancing packaging sustainability in recent years, with a firm focus on reducing plastic, increasing our use of recycled materials and ensuring packaging is widely recyclable. These latest changes are more solid steps in the right direction, but this work won’t stop there.

“We recognise that far too much plastic packaging is thrown away and that more effort needs to be made across all industries to reduce, reuse, recycle and embed the principles of a truly circular economy. It’s great to see our brands taking very public steps in this space, but also the important day-to-day progress being made behind the scenes. A 700-tonne plastic reduction, for example, has been achieved in oils and drinks bottles used in retailer own brand products. This is a huge reduction and a great testament to the hard work of our packaging team and site colleagues.”

Last year, the company revealed an ambition to switch all of its branded tuna multipacks to cardboard sleeve packaging as part of a major initiative, which has removed 96 tonnes of plastic annually, as well the removal of non-recyclable Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) and Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) from its products.

Princes now reports that the average recycled content of plastic across its UK manufacturing base is 45%. In addition, 99% of the plastic in its UK manufactured products is classified as widely recyclable. Princes also no longer owns any bottled water business having sold its last remaining water site and the Aqua Pura brand in 2020.

Continued progress to reduce waste and reuse materials is key to Princes’ 2030GreenGoals initiative, which outlines the Group’s commitment to cut general waste by 30% and become a carbon neutral business across its UK and international operations by 2030. This ambition

builds on important progress made since 2014/2015 to reduce the Group’s carbon emissions, which represents a 23% decrease of over 34,000 tonnes of CO2.

[1] 26.4 million empty, 1 litre drinks or oils bottles – Princes


Princes Group reaches 50% yellowfin cut goal a year ahead of deadline as pandemic impacts sourcing


The international food and drink group said challenges remain in maintaining the cut, equivalent to 70m cans a year, into 2022 and beyond

Princes Group has announced it has reached its ambitious goal of reducing Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna sourcing by 50% on 2017 levels, a year ahead of its 2022 deadline.

Princes committed to the cut to make clear to the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), its member states, fisheries and vessels, that action and leadership is required in order to protect the long-term sustainability of yellowfin tuna stocks.

The Global Tuna Alliance, of which Princes is an active member, had also been mounting pressure on the IOTC to urgently adopt a recovery plan for Indian Ocean yellowfin. In June this year, IOTC members finally agreed an interim rebuilding plan, but this still fell short of recommendations needed to rebuild the stocks within two generations.

Princes is now forecasting its 2021 sourcing will be approximately 16,141 metric tonnes of yellowfin, approximately 70m cans of tuna, a 51% reduction on its 2017 base figure of 32,768 metric tonnes.

However, the business admits it faces an uphill battle to maintain the 50% reduction into 2022, as the pandemic created an unusual set of circumstances that helped it to achieve its goal a year ahead of its target.

Neil Bohannon, Group Director for Fish at Princes, said: “As we all know, 2021 has been a unique year, and that has impacted our tuna sourcing in different ways. We faced periods of closures and reduced production at our Mauritian canning sites, and whilst we maintained our supply of products, our sourcing did reduce somewhat. We need to flex our tuna sourcing as part of our multi-ocean strategy to ensure we can maintain the 50% Indian Ocean yellowfin reduction next year.

Putting sustainability first is always a huge challenge – it takes commitment, action and a huge amount of hard work. We are not going to shy away from these challenges, and we would call on all our industry partners to have the same mindset. The IOTC’s rebuilding plan is a good first step, but the future sustainability of yellowfin tuna will remain at risk if a more robust rebuilding plan is not adopted.

We have 4,000 colleagues across our two manufacturing sites in Mauritius, with a wider economic footprint across the local supply chain so a great many jobs are reliant on us. Sustaining the seafood economy is reliant on long-term sustainable tuna and the IOTC needs to show leadership and take firm action. We will always play our part, but we are only one player is a much wider industry and everyone has to step up.”

Executive Director of the Global Tuna Alliance (GTA) Dr Tom Pickerell said: This is a very important announcement by Princes. Long-term action is urgently needed on the overfished yellowfin stock, and it is great to see an individual company making such significant strides in exercising their commercial leverage to drive change. What is crucial now is that the IOTC supports these efforts with a formalised and scientifically sound rebuilding plan – this is what the Global Tuna Alliance has been asking of all IOTC delegates. If properly managed there will be enough tuna for everyone – it’s not rocket science; a scientifically-led cut in catches now will rebuild the stock”.

At the IOTC’s 25th Commission session in June, the GTA called upon members to limit catch to 341,000mt, which the IOTC’s own Scientific Committee said would allow yellowfin stocks to begin to rebuild.

Yet – several months later – five IOTC member states have now objected to the plan, forcing the sustainability of Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna back into the danger zone, and compromising the efforts made by the majority of nations willing to follow scientific advice.

The interim rebuilding plan for yellowfin tuna that was agreed at the IOTC meeting in June will come into effect on 1 January, 2022. However, objecting member states will not have to implement the conservation measure, and will instead be bound by their previous catch limits – the GTA calculates that they could increase the total 2022 catch by over 50,000mt if their 2022 catches equal their 2019 catches – far exceeding the scientific advice.

Princes has previously stated it is committed to only processing responsibly sourced tuna. Princes defines responsibly sourced as fisheries that are either already certified according to the standards of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), or are involved in a time-bound Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) that is working towards achieving standards required for MSC certification. Fully traceable pole and line fisheries and catches made that are Fish Aggregating Device (FAD) free are also included.

Princes was also a founding partner of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation in 2009, and plays an active leadership role in challenging and promoting the organisation’s work and standards towards the long-term conservation and sustainable use of global tuna stocks, reducing bycatch and promoting tuna ecosystem health.

Princes’ two tuna processing sites in Mauritius are MSC Chain Of Custody certified and both hold SA8000 certification for social accountability.



Princes wins Employer of the Year at The Grocer Gold Awards 2021


Princes has been named Employer of the Year at The Grocer’s Gold Awards 2021.

A Grocer Gold Award is one of the highest accolades a company operating in the food and drink industry can receive.

Open to retailers, wholesalers and grocery manufacturers, the prestigious award is for the employer who, over the past 12 months, has ‘done the most to create a positive working environment, motivating, redirecting and training its people, and improving the company’s reputation and performance in the process.’

In announcing Princes as Employer of the Year at a glittering ceremony at London’s Guildhall hosted by Rt. Hon. Lord William Hague, the judges described Princes as a “true turnaround story”.

They went on to say: “In 2018, Princes suffered a 22% slump in pre-tax profits. That prompted a transformation – and Princes’ people were a crucial part of this mission.

“The starting point was a ‘People Excellence Strategy’ that went on to deliver concrete action. To reward achievement, it put in place a quarterly Pride in Princes awards programme that gave out cash prizes to high performers. This was followed by an Inclusion & Diversity programme in the summer.

“And to support health and wellbeing, Princes put together a monthly campaign with updates and information. Plus, it ensured staff weren’t out of pocket for Covid-related absences, and has committed to flexible working in the wake of the pandemic.

“Princes has not only managed to boost retention, but had a record number of entries to its Graduate Scheme in 2021.”

Other companies shortlisted for the award were Tesco, Aldi and Morrisons.

The judges were impressed by Princes’ commitment to ensuring that colleagues feel part of one team and that no matter where they are in the world, they have a common purpose in striving to achieve our vision to ‘proudly help families to eat well without costing the earth’.

Joe Dent, Princes’ Chief People Officer, said: “I am thrilled for everyone at Princes that our business has been named Employer of the Year in The Grocer’s Gold Awards. These awards are the most sought after in our industry.

“What is also exciting is that we are only at the beginning of our journey. There is still so much to do to complete the transformation of Princes into a true Employer of Choice.”


Princes commits to carbon neutrality across global operations by 2030


Group has already achieved a 23% reduction in carbon emissions since 2014/2015

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