Taste Nature has a three-sided business model, involving the first established 100% gluten free café in New Zealand, an organic shop and a sustainable living shop. The owner of Taste Nature bought the company three years ago and has since expanded on the sustainable innovations of all of these services which were previously provided at Taste Nature. The innovation of expanding all three different services offered within Taste Nature has helped to create sustainable healthy living in the community by providing organic food and sustainable products. This innovation achieves four of the UN sustainable development goals, being Goal 3 (Good health and Well-Being), Goal 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), Goal 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), and Goal 15 (Life on Land).
University of Otago
Taste Nature is a for-profit business located in the city center of Dunedin, New Zealand. First established in 1992 as a community initiative to provide organic produce, it is now owned and run by Clinton Chambers, who is the third generation owner. Clinton has been the proud owner of Taste Nature for the past three years, working in all aspects of the business along with his 23 employees. Taste Nature has expanded in these last three years, given Clinton’s passion to help people live more sustainable, healthier lifestyles as well as looking after the environment and planet earth. Clinton described his goal as “I want people to understand that health and our environment are interconnected and interrelated, with one affecting the other”. Taste Nature now offers the first certified 100% gluten free café in New Zealand, as well as an organic shop with an organic bakery and a sustainable living shop. Taste Nature is now Dunedin’s leading organic store and café.
Given that Clinton is the third generation owner of Taste Nature. He has worked to expand the sustainable innovation of all services involved in the business, using resources that were previously there. Taste Nature has a three sided business model, being the café, organic shop and sustainable living shop. He has achieved innovating these, particularly through doubling the size of the café and creating more space in the shops, allowing him to be able to increase the ranges and options of products and produce available to consumers.
Being New Zealand’s only 100% Gluten Free Café offering organic plant based vegan wholefoods, Taste Nature has successfully been able to cater to the health of the people in the community through providing an accessible and healthy option for dining out. Clinton and his team also make sure all produce at the café and organic store is non contaminated, and sustainably produced with ethical supply chains. Taste Nature also supports its community in this way through sourcing locally grown produce. The organic shop also has one of the only organic bakeries in New Zealand, which provides a wide range of gluten free breads, supporting the health of those in the community.
The sustainable living shop includes a wide range of products that are either organic or produced using ethically sound principles and ingredients. The sustainable living shop includes the second largest eco-store product range in the country, and the largest in the South Island. The sustainable living store in Taste Nature also offers a refill station where customers can bring their empty eco-store bottles and refill them, creating zero waste. Clinton described the products he works with in this section as “healthy for the people and healthy for the planet”.
Taste Nature's dedication to healthy lifestyles through the organic wholefoods they supply supports the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 3 (Good Health and Well-Being). This is through providing the largest range of seasonally sourced organic produce, providing organic produce for the café through their own Taste Nature gardens, extensive range of bulk foods and being the proud home of Dunedin’s only organic sourdough bakery and largest range of gluten free breads. The food supplied at Taste Nature also supports UN Sustainable Development Goal 15 (Life on Land), through providing vegan plant-based food at the café. Taste Nature also supports Sustainable Development Goal 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) through being the home of natural cleaning products, organic make-up, and zero waste clothing and footwear. Lastly, Taste Nature supports UN Sustainable Development Goal 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), through sourcing produce locally and being a point of contact to support consumers who want to lead healthy, sustainable lifestyles. Taste Nature is also affiliated with and supports many organizations including the vegan society of NZ, the soil & health association of New Zealand and many more. Taste Nature is a well-rounded business with the café, organic shop, and sustainable living shop all in one, promoting what it means to be a sustainable business.
When discussing whether the innovation of Taste Nature is related to a sense of mission, purpose or meaning, Clinton said, “Absolutely! We are a value-based business so everything I do is based on our values which are to ‘create a better world’. Humans are good at often making a mess of things and I want to be able to provide counter-effective acts”.
The primary motivation for this innovative sustainable business is the thirty year history of fighting for, promoting, and providing, sustainable lifestyles, both for people and the planet. When first opened in 1992, Taste Nature was supported by the community, with people volunteering their hours just so there was access to organic food. Clinton explained that back in the 90s organic food was very much frowned upon, so it was important for Taste Nature to make it accessible as many people in the community no longer wanted to be eating inorganic food.
It is clear that Taste Nature does not exist only for money, but rather their values and ethics to make the world a better place. This socially conscious organization strives with the values of a not-for-profit business where they give back to the community and the environment, all while being profitable to continue their mission of building a better world. Clinton explained this motivation as, “I have a low tolerance for ignorance, and I just want people to be healthier, and then if people are healthier, so is our planet and environment”.
When asked about how sustainable businesses can compete with cheaper alternatives (such as inorganic food) Clinton discussed true cost accounting, which provides the inspiration and a basis as to why Taste Nature exists. Clinton explained how not many people understand or evaluate the true cost of cheap food. This being what it costs to society, the environment, and the planet. A lot of these cheaper products are made in countries that are not fair trade, often leading to human exploitation. Inorganic products may seem cheaper to us, but are more costly to the environment, as the external costs to the “cheaper alternatives” come at a greater expense. The environmentally friendly organic product prices are simply a reflection of the value it adds to the community and planet earth.
Along with what Taste Nature is doing, Clinton explained that they are currently in the process of rebranding the organic store to an organic supermarket which will be the first store in New Zealand to carry that name. They are also about to be the first company to launch into another health centre in New Zealand, as well as Clinton is about to launch an organic wine and food festival, being the first person to do this in New Zealand. These ventures portray continuous innovative growth to an already very innovative sustainable business.
By being located in the city centre of Dunedin, Taste Nature has created an easily accessible place for sustainable and health-orientated people to visit, while also providing a point of contact to help educate the people of Dunedin who want to know more about healthy and sustainable living. By having the 100% gluten-free café attached to the organic shop and sustainable living shop, this provides the opportunity for customers of the café to venture throughout both shops and become educated on organic healthy eating, and products to live sustainably all while supporting ethical practices. When asked whether he believes Taste Nature has had a positive impact on the Dunedin community, Clinton responded saying “I would like to think we have. We are a point of contact for people who want to live sustainably and healthy”.
A big part of the innovation of the services on offer at Taste Nature is that it allows not only Clinton, but also all of the Taste Nature employees, to share their values and passions of organic healthy eating, and sustainable living with their community. When you walk through the doors of Taste Nature, whether it be to the café, the organic shop, or the sustainable living shop, you feel safe, given the honest and natural atmosphere, while also being surrounded by produce and products that you can be sure are 100% safe, with no exploitation or contamination.
In the short term, Clinton's first three years at Taste Nature has increased revenue by over 20%. This is an incredible achievement for such a short amount of time. Clinton has noticed that all aspects of the store are busier. He believes this is partly because Taste Nature is unique, not only to Dunedin, but all of NZ, explaining that “there is no other store like us that has the range of products that we do, that has a café, has a bakery, and sells clothing and footwear, no other shops in NZ do this”. In the long term, this may influence more stores dedicated to healthy living through organic produce and community involvement around New Zealand.
Taste Nature provides extensive benefits socially and environmentally through their organic café, organic shop and sustainable living shop. By providing customers at the café with organic plant based wholefoods, every customer who eats there is having a positive impact on the environment. As well as by providing organic and fresh produce through the organic shop, Taste Nature is making organic healthy food accessible through ethical supply chains. In the short term, the social and environmental benefits of the café and organic shop is the education aspect where people who visit can learn from the employees about the importance of eating organically. All employees at Taste Nature are open to sharing their values and perspectives on healthy and sustainable living, however it is important to note that people have their own values and Taste Nature is only there to help educate people on sustainable healthy living. Another short term benefit of the café and organic shop is the immediate decrease in inorganic and meat products being consumed and produced. There are also long term benefits from the decrease of environmentally harmful production practices of producing the produce and meals, as well as benefiting the well-being of animals.
In regards to the sustainable living shop, Taste Nature also provides social and environmental benefits. Clinton explained that “We think through the supply chain, whereas a lot of other retail businesses think about profit, at the expense of humans or the environment. For us, we will only supply products with an ethical supply chain, so we go right back to the source, to ensure that there is integrity right throughout”. Short term benefits of the sustainable living shop is the increased accessibility consumers have to sustainable products and refilling stations, such as the eco-store range. Long term benefits are the positive environmental and social impacts of using ethical supply chains.
When asked what he thinks the impact of Taste Nature is towards the environment, both short and long term, Clinton replied with “I would think minimal. It is not us having an impact on the environment, it is our consumers who are having a positive impact on the environment. We are only there to provide the option for our customers, for example if they are wanting to be waste free (zero waste), we want to be able to provide a range of products that provide them the ability to achieve their sustainable goals.”
Clinton Chambers, Owner
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Business Website: https://www.tastenature.co.nz
Year Founded: 1992
Number of Employees: 11 to 50
Taste Nature is a wholefoods organic store, sustainable living store and café. The café being the first established 100% certified gluten free café in New Zealand. Taste Nature is a value-based for-profit company, valuing organics, wholefoods, natural health, environmental sustainability, non GMO and fair trade. Taste Nature supports conscious consumerism. The owner of the business is passionate about looking after the environment, planet earth and health. Taste Nature is a business which provides customers with delicious organic food and sustainable everyday products based on principles that enhance the environment and everyone in the wider community. Taste Nature is very supportive of its community, and is committed to providing the largest range of seasonally sourced organic produce, including locally grown.