Greenhouse Pioneer: Adam Thompson, Rebel Kitchen
Rebel Kitchen is redefining healthy food. Since launching in 2014, the company has been challenging the norm by creating a range of sustainable milk-free drinks. From committing to 100% organic, responsibly sourced ingredients with no additives to achieving B Corp status, this rebellious sustainability streak is working – and we love it. Greenhouse interviewed Rebel Kitchen’s Commercial Director, Adam Thompson, to discover what drives him and what we can expect next from the organic pioneers. Tell us, in 20 words or fewer, about your company - what's your mission? Rebel Kitchen is here to redefine health through food, business and beyond. What drives you? I’ve always had a drive to better or improve things where others might settle, and I love the challenge of doing things that haven’t been done before. I want to demystify food. We live in this incredibly complex global food system which isn’t easy for anyone to understand and is deeply flawed. We are seeing an extreme loss of biodiversity on the land, in the air and at sea, while pesticides and agricultural chemicals are causing ecosystem toxicity, soil erosion and degradation. From a humanitarian perspective, we are faced with the exploitation of agricultural workers, declining numbers of farmers working the land and a lack of equal access to healthy food. I want to spearhead the change within that system to allow people to see that healthy food can taste good and be good so that we can bring back some of life’s interconnectivity through complete transparency and simplicity. What is your greatest achievement to date? Too often we get caught up in the big achievements – like winning new business or achieving a certain number of sales – and use those as our barometers of success but I often find it’s the small things that mean the most. For example, our decision to make all of our products 100% organic without increasing the prices for retailers or customers because we felt that was the right thing to do. What are the challenges you face? As a business that’s pushing boundaries in a sector that is defined predominantly by businesses that are hooked on rapid growth, staying true to our purpose can be a challenge. Often there is less access to facilities, organic ingredients, support or knowledge because people haven’t done what we are doing before. We face these challenges head on – sometimes you have to be a pioneer. What are you working on that's getting you fired up and excited? We’re always working on new product ideas, design, content and marketing but I get most excited when discussing organisational design and culture as we try to establish what a leading business of 2030 will look like in terms of people. Where do you want to take Rebel Kitchen next? We want to continue pushing deeper into our regenerative sustainability initiatives. We want to continue working closely with the smallholders that grow our ingredients to help them regenerate the environment in which they are farming. What can we, as individuals, do to make a difference? All too often we accept what is put in front of us because someone else says it’s okay or a company has approved it. Yet nobody seems to challenge those approvals or decide whether that is right for them. Conscious consumption is here to stay, and we are starting to see a revolution as people challenge the status quo. Whether it be replacing conventional ingredients and a return to trusting in traditional foods, or recycling by using keep cups. These are examples of people’s curiosity about a different way of living. The more we do, the more we will develop and the more opportunities there will be to reconnect with nature. How is what you are doing inspiring change in others? I guess you would have to ask them. My hope is that by creating a new path in the food and drink industry it will show other businesses that they can do good and be good at the same time. I hope I inspire others to believe that purpose can be greater than profit. Can you recommend a life or game-changing book for our readers? Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. We read often about how failure can be a route to success for businesses, but I think even more important is the courage to be vulnerable. What do you listen to when you're cooking dinner? Whatever is on my Spotify Discover Weekly playlist, I don’t know what I would do without it! What's the best advice you've ever been given? To question the norm! Too often we define ourselves with rigid parameters or accept what’s in front of us as a given but really, change is the only constant. We are constantly changing as humans given that we are 70% water so if we acknowledge this and apply that mentality to life, we can become more adaptable, more receptive to new information and enjoy the journey of finding exciting opportunities along the way. Can you leave us with who'd be your Eco-Hero? David Attenborough for being an environmental pioneer and doing such an amazing job at reconnecting everyone back to nature through his programmes.