Co-op Members celebrate social enterprises by tasting good beer

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Co-op Members joined in to learn more about some of the delicious social enterprise-created beers that are on sale in some of our stores, as we highlighted the amazing work social enterprises do in our communities to celebrate Buy Social Weekend in October. 

When we checked in with members to find out how we could support their wellbeing during lockdown last year, members told us they were looking for more opportunities to learn new things. Learning about beer and the unique way social enterprises support communities was a way that we could help. 

So, working with our suppliers and beers, wines and spirits team, we hosted an exclusive beer session just for Co-op Members. 

Held via Zoom, more than 150 members got involved to listen to our experts – Alan Mahon, from Brewgooder, and Rob Wilson, from Toast Ale – share the inspiring stories behind their beers and how they are made.  

Members also heard how these social enterprise breweries invest their profits for social good, helping to promote the wellbeing of people and the environment. They were able to chat with other members, put their questions to our experts, taste along with us if they wanted, and had the chance to win a selection of beers in our prize draw. 

Products with purpose 

Proud to be a member of the national campaigning organisation, Social Enterprise UK, ever since they started brewing their planet-saving beers, Rob said the chance to tell the Toast story was an opportunity too good to miss. 

“It was a privilege to be virtually welcomed into so many living rooms up and down the country to share our story, our sustainability values and, of course, raise a Toast, with so many Co-op customers.” 

With an increasing number of consumers searching for social purpose and environmental sustainability in what they buy, beer is a category that can often be overlooked, explains Alan. 

“We wanted to get involved in the Buy Social event with Co-op to show its members that they are already ahead of the game in bringing social enterprise beer products to a wider audience,” he says. 

Committed to helping people and the planet 

The online session gave Alan the chance to share a more in-depth story about Brewgooder’s commitment to supporting people around the world who live without access to safe water from their profits that can’t always be told in full on a can. 

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“The more people know who we are, and where to find us, the more impact we can make together as a society,” he says. 

Social enterprise is all about using business as a force for good for people and the planet, explains Rob. 

“We brew our delicious beers using yesterday’s bread from bakeries to fight food waste, as 44% of bread baked in the UK is never eaten and is the biggest food waste there is. We also pour 100% of our profits into environmental charities.” 

Doing good by buying social 

Co-op Members also learned how they can make a real difference by ‘buying social’. 

“There are literally thousands of amazing social enterprises across the UK, and if you buy from a business with the ‘Buy Social’ certification then you know that you are buying a product that is not just going to taste great, but is also going to do good,” says Rob. 

“Most, like us and Brewgooder, will be price competitive on shelf, and so everyone should vote with their wallets and help change the world by enjoying all the things we love to eat and drink.” 

A chance to learn 

Reflecting on an “enjoyable” hour-long session which he could join from the comfort of his own home, prize winner, Herbert Daybell, says: “It was especially interesting to know that just as beer isn’t just beer, breweries aren’t just breweries and these two at least take their social responsibilities seriously.” 

Now more knowledgeable about these social enterprises, Herbert says knowing each glass of beer he drinks contributes to some amazing projects is all the incentive he needs, and admits he is now a committed beer connoisseur. 

“I’ve become a beer snob by choosing specific beers to accompany specific foods – just like wine buffs do,” he says. 

With our beer buyer, Joseph Walker, on the call, the session was also a great opportunity for Co-op Members to hear more about our Co-op beer category as a whole. 

“We enjoyed the event and loved sharing our story and hearing feedback from the people who bring the Co-op to life in their communities. We can’t wait for more events like it in the future,” says Alan. 

If you missed the online session, you can watch it on YouTube by clicking here

There are always ways for you to get involved with your Co-op. Head to your member account to see what opportunities are currently available.   

Ed Powell 
Partnerships Manager