When the Whole Kids organic kids snack business began 12 years ago, co-founder Monica Meldrum knew she was taking on some formidable multinational businesses, but creating healthy snack choices for kids in a way that gave back to the community was the objective from start.
After experiencing countless instances of being locked out by the big manufacturers as she competed for business in retail and other sales channels, she learned how to rely on the social and environmental credentials of the business.
And the company is no light-weight in this regard. In 2013, it became the first business in Australia to certify as B Corp, which is a for-profit company that meets rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.
In 2015, Meldrum won St George Banking Group's Ausmumpreneur of the Year award, and last year she was named in The Australian Financial Review & Westpac 100 Women of Influence Awards.
Meldrum, who will be sharing her insights on Profit with a Purpose at our annual LIVE industry forum in Sydney on 22 August, says the idea for the business followed a trip to Indonesia where she was involved in a community project in a North Sumatran village.
“We built an amazing playground with the community there to give the kids a safe place to play, and it was an incredible experience for me. Despite their problems, it was the happiest place in world. There was so much joy, and the villagers valued happiness. I came back to Australia and vowed to make difference.”
At the time Meldrum, who now has children of her own, was an Aunt to 19 nephews and nieces, and she could see the frustrations their parents had around purchasing food.
“The labels were totally misleading. One snack bar had 55 ingredients, and this inspired me to talk to a dietitian at Royal Children’s Hospital, and meet with organic growers. I realised Australia was ten years behind in terms of organics and really clean food, so I decided to go for it.
“We didn't set out to create a multimillion dollar business. We wanted to create change in an industry that so badly needed changing. Our big goal was to produce 50 million healthy choices by 2020, and we are now up to 30 million."
Because the company's purpose is to help mums and dads create healthy happy lives for their kids, its mission extends beyond its product range, and into a company community grants program. Whole Kids' food pouches are also fully recyclable due to a partnership with Terracycle and Australia Post.
“One day when my kids hold me to account, I want to be able to look at them and say I helped to make the world a better place,” Meldrum says. “We want to be one of the businesses in our industry that stands up and says there is a problem here, and we can all be part of the solution.”