Bio-Planet encourages its customers to make more sustainable lifestyle choices. The supermarket chain tries to differentiate itself from other organizations by showing people the potential environmental benefits of positive change, instead of focusing on the somber picture of what the world will become if we do nothing to stop environmental destruction. Bio-Planet attempts to create a better world by offering seasonal, local, and Fairtrade certified products. Bio-Planet has similar environmental goals to other companies but tries to reach those goals differently. To make Bio-Planet a flourishing enterprise, the organization focuses on changing customer mindsets while also making financial improvements. Creating sustainable value is at the core of Bio-Planet's strategy to create customer loyalty and behavior change. Bio-Planet is also constantly trying to improve its business process to become more financially and environmentally efficient.
Since its founding, Bio-Planet has always focused on organic and environmentally-friendly products. Throughout the years, the supermarket chain has also expanded its focus on other types of sustainable items, such as local and Fairtrade certified products. Recently, Bio-Planet launched a campaign on multiple social media platforms to promote ‘Planet B.' With this campaign, the organization wants to spread the message that there is a Planet B. This campaign contradicts many other environmental messages, that warn people that there is no Planet B or a second chance to change the world. Before this campaign, many organizations and campaigns tried to scare people into adopting a sustainable lifestyle by warning them about the negative consequences that would happen as a result of not making lifestyle changes. This approach gave many people a dismal picture of the future and made them associate sustainability with that grim future, hence Bio-Planet’s Planet B campaign. The goal of this campaign is to make people associate sustainability with a brighter future and hopefully encourage them to adopt new behaviors. Bio-Planet chose this positive approach because the organization believes that the state of our planet can only be improved through collaboration.
Ruth Evenepoel explained, “[w]e can either give up because there is no Planet B or look at the alternatives that do exist. You can take a look at the differences you can make, be it on a small scale, by, for example, altering your groceries.”
Bio-Planet supports this message by primarily offering organic, locally-sourced, seasonal, and Fairtrade certified products. This is a crucial initiative for the organization to support while it promotes the benefits of a sustainable lifestyle to its customers. Most people know that they need to change their actions to improve the environment, but few people do it. This is why Bio-Planet’s campaign is a radical innovation.
Another creative initiative is Bio-Planet's vertical farming practices. Vertical farming uses a closed building with multiple vertically-stacked planters to grow produce. This allows for many crops to be cultivated in a small area. Bio-Planet built its vertical farm to grow basil plants. This innovation is an example of how the organization tries to improve its business practices. This farming process increases efficiency, giving Bio-Planet an advantage over other companies. This also shows that the organization follows its mission to promote a more sustainable lifestyle.
The rise of organic supermarkets was originally inspired by the Colruyt Group's practices in Germany. Driven by the food crises of the past, such as the BSE "mad cow disease" public health crisis in the 1990s, the market for organic food has been bolstered by increasing health awareness among consumers. People want transparency, particularly when it comes to making choices about food.
Ruth Evenepoel explained that “the Colruyt Group was triggered by what they saw in neighboring countries. Especially in Germany, organic became a big thing. This new trend was due to several food crises. From then on, people wanted to know what’s in their food.”
Because of this big shift in customer needs, it was the perfect business move to bring this new concept to Belgium with Bio-Planet. Investing in innovation has always been in Colruyt Group’s DNA. Beyond seeing sustainability as a business opportunity, Colruyt Group also believes that being sustainable is a way to positively contribute to society. The organization touches upon almost every UN Sustainable Development Goal in its practices. Through Bio-Planet's intense focus on promoting Sustainable Development Goals, the supermarket chain has inspired its employees to take these goals to heart. This draws from the first part of Colruyt’s mission, which is: “Together, we create sustainable added value.”
Emilie de Morteuil stated that “innovation is in Colruyt’s DNA; we are always looking for the best solution.”
The 'Planet B' campaign's inspiration derives from the original ‘There is no Planet B’ movement. Bio-Planet's campaign has the same goal as the original movement: to create a better world. Colruyt Group’s mission of togetherness inspired Bio-Planet to create a more positive campaign with a nod to the original Planet B concept.
The Sustainable Development Goals are crucial for Bio-Planet. As mentioned above, Bio-Planet was one of the first for-profit organizations in Belgium to represent the Sustainable Development Goals. The organization also wanted to create a shared blueprint for supporting peace, prosperity, and the planet. The supermarket chain has strengthened the agricultural economy and fostered a new wave of sustainable and innovative ideas for agriculture.
Ruth Evenepoel described how “Bio-Planet wants to focus even more on local products and agricultural projects and wants to create a webshop to inspire even more people.”
People are increasingly becoming more health-conscious, and are looking to achieve more balance and sustainability in their lifestyles. It is important to involve people in every step of the process to increase sustainability so they can understand what barriers to a better planet still exist. Bio-Planet needs to maintain reasonable prices so customers are willing to buy organic products. All of these factors, directly and indirectly, contribute to changing our current environmental situation.
Ruth Evenepoel stated that “sustainability is becoming more and more important.” It is vital to implement sustainable practices at all levels within Bio-Planet. This is a process that takes time and requires effort from everyone. Customers are increasingly taking sustainability into account when they decide where to shop. Sustainable practices can lead to new business advantages and can impact risk management. Sustainable practices alleviate pressure from authorities and customers calling for better practices. Buying local is an easy way to promote sustainability. This reduces the ecological footprint of a product because of the shorter distance between the producer and the consumer. By buying locally, Bio-Planet supports its local economy, Belgian organic farmers, and regional product producers. Bio-Planet believes that only together, we can improve the planet. Companies don’t need to be perfect to start implementing sustainable business practices, but they need to do their part to create a better world.
The implementation of sustainable business practices impacts revenue, customer numbers, and overall costs. This also creates new opportunities for companies like Bio-Planet.
While discussing Bio-Planet's vision, Astrid Van Parys explained, “[a]s a company, we try to set goals in both the short and long term.”
Part of the reason why Bio-Planet is a flourishing organization is because of its dedication to working on as many Sustainable Development Goals as possible. Still, it is important to notice that the company does not focus on independent operations to achieve these goals. Bio-Planet also focuses on people and the value of “caring for people and the planet,” inspiring its customers to be engaged in useful activities through its products and services.
After several years of research, the company has noticed an increase in sustainability awareness, but consumers have not quickly adopted new behaviors. This is one of the reasons why the increasing shift towards sustainability goes hand-in-hand with changing practices. The coronavirus pandemic has also made a positive impact on this shift: people have been buying locally and becoming more aware of sustainable practices. Bio-Planet's commitment to sustainable practices has fostered a loyal customer base. Many people come to Bio-Planet because of its commitment to sustainability.
Emilie de Morteuil remarked, “[c]onsumers are not willing to change their routine quickly.”
Bio-Planet notices that sustainability attracts new employees that are drawn to the organization's values. This has made it easier for the firm to find and hire dedicated new employees. Bio-Planet believes that by working in an organization that values sustainability, its employees feel more important, motivated, and happy.
Astrid Van Parys said, “We feel that sustainability attracts a lot of new employees.”
Bio-Planet is a flourishing company that strives for progress. The organization is currently striving to be a thought-leader in sustainable supermarket practices. Through its practices, Bio-Planet contributes to a flourishing world by decreasing the impact people have on the environment. A flourishing world leads to flourishing individuals. People benefit from a better environment. Bio-Planet also benefits from those flourishing individuals, since they are more eager to support enterprises that support their beliefs about sustainability. This cycle has made Bio-Planet the flourishing enterprise it is today.
It is not easy to measure the net impact a single company’s actions have made on society. There are no exact numbers to describe the impact conscious consumption has made on our environment. Colruyt Group makes use of a ‘step icon’ to point its customers in the right direction when looking at products, and the retail group tracks customer behaviors. The organization has noticed that people are becoming more aware of their buying behavior, but they do not have a complete mindset around sustainable practices. Numerous surveys have shown that there has been an increase in the consumption of organic, local, and Fairtrade products during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Ruth Evenepoel stated, “[i]t is tough to predict if this increase will continue after the pandemic because many people have switched to bio-products from a financial point of view, and sustainability might not be their main priority." She also believes that “[t]he tone has been set. It’s a wave that cannot be stopped. Every respectable supermarket now offers a wide range of organic products. Every customer gets in contact with this movement, and thus they become more aware of their buying behavior.”
Of course, it is hard to completely change the choices of every customer, but any adjustment is a step in the right direction. There is still a large group of people who have not yet started to adopt more sustainable practices.
Astrid Van Parys explained, “[w]e also notice that more and more young families switch to ‘the new normal.’ For example, when they get a baby, they become more conscious of their buying behavior. They want a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle for their family.”
The Colruyt Group believes that the environment can only be improved if we all work together. Bio-Planet’s 'Planet B' campaign could be beneficial for a wider audience. If more people believe that their actions can make a positive impact on the environment, they will be more likely to enact change. Bio-Planet can achieve this if they convince other companies or movements to support their campaign. Consequently, this innovative campaign can be expanded across other industries and sectors.
Astrid Van Parys, Emilie de Morteuil & Ruth Evenepoel, Interview UHasselt - Bio-Planet
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Hasselt, Limburg, BE
Business Website: https://www.bioplanet.be/nl
Year Founded: 2001
Number of Employees: 501 to 1000
Bio-Planet is a sustainable supermarket chain that primarily offers organic products. The company promotes sustainability by prioritizing local products, offering naturally in-season fruits and vegetables, and improving product packaging to be more environmentally-friendly. Bio-Planet is part of the Colruyt Group, a retail corporation mostly known for stores such as Colruyt, Spar, Okay, Dreamland, and services such as Dats 24, a gas station. Sustainability has been in Colruyt Group’s DNA for decades. The company was one of the first for-profit organizations in Belgium to be a representative of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Bio-Planet’s mission is to create sustainable value through quality-driven retail practices. Bio-Planet encourages customers to adopt behaviors that promote a sustainable lifestyle. Being sustainable and spreading that mindset is one of Bio-Planet’s core values.