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Thoughts from April 2008

our annual report

the innocent AGM

At the end of today we gave all of our AGM attendees a lovingly prepared annual report to read on the bus home. It will also be available for download here from Monday. Here's a preview of just a few of the pages.

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Always say hello.

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An over view of our approach to business. The use of coloured pencils being fundamental to it.

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Some information about our innocent foundation, and the picture I took of Andrew D.

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This is a very important page.

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We had to put in a page using a chart in order to be eligible to enter the Best Annual Report of the year awards. This is that page, with a beard twist.

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Another fundamental rule of innocent, always say thank you.

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The end. (The pages wouldn't stay down so I had to hold it shut).

thanks for coming

the innocent AGM

The last of the cake has been eaten and everyone has gone home.

Thanks so much to for coming along, for asking such great questions, for drinking lots of tea, for being really friendly and for making our first AGM so very brilliant.

We'll definitely be doing it again.

Same time. Same place. Next year.

a few of the questions from the Q&A

the innocent AGM

Here's a couple of questions from the Q&A in a very raw format, there'll be more next week.

why do all of our smoothies have banana in them?

what's the deal with the innocent logo?

how did we come up with the idea of little hats?

where did the founders of innocent meet?

the answers to the questions

the innocent AGM

Here are the answers to those five questions you voted to be put to the Q&A session on your behalf.

Any plans to produce a range of organic smoothies? Sam, by email

We don't have any plans to make organic smoothies at the moment. What we do is make sure we're proud of every piece of fruit we use - that's fruit that tastes great but is grown in a sustainable way. Sometimes that means we use organic fruit but more often is means using varieties from countries grown under different schemes that also ensure we are looking after the plant and ourselves - we're big fans of the rain forest alliance for this reason.

Innocent Drinks must require an incredible volume of fruit from various countries worldwide throughout the year and I've no doubt you source with integrity, but is there much thought being given to food miles / carbon footprints? Where's the line between cost savings through global sourcing and the environmental savings of buying local produce? David, by email

We give a lot of though to the carbon impact of the fruit we source. If you want to use fruit like banana and mango its going to have to come quite a distance so we make sure we bring it in on a boat rather than an aero plane. We also want to source our fruit from where fruit grows best naturally and so minimise CO2 produced during growing. An exciting new development this year is a tool we've built that will tell us how much CO2 is produced for each type of fruit from each county for each type of transport. This means that now when we buy our fruit we can always consider it in our decision-making.

When Richard, Jon and Adam started out they had a vision and has this vision materialised or exceeded their expectations? And have you had to compromise any of your core beliefs you had at the outset to reach the levels of success you have today? Liam, by email

Overall, it has been a brilliant eight years and we're extremely grateful for all the support we have had in getting innocent to where it is today, but we feel like we're just getting started. We want to take our principles of making food delicious, natural, healthy and sustainable into more categories and more places. And one day, we may want to take innocent into categories outside of food. We're also motivated by questioning the role that business has in society; we want to prove that given the impact businesses have, all businesses should have a wider purpose than the just the simple pursuit of profit. 

In terms of compromising our core beliefs, I would say that they are stronger now than ever before. Our commitment to keep things natural, to only make food that is nutritionally good for people, and to leave things a little bit better than we find them are right at the heart of why we're here. We've still got a lot more work to do to become the business that we want to be, but as we get a bit bigger we have more time and resource to focus on the things we care about, I think we're getting more, not less, innocent.


How do you know that the work you are doing through the charitable foundation is having a positive impact? Are you having it independently evaluated for the effect it is having on the local economies and whether there are corresponding benefits for everyone in the community, like through building new health centres and stuff? How do you know it's not increasing inequalities or setting up any weird or perverse (ooh-err!) local priorities for people and their families? Farrah, by email

In 2007 the innocent foundation funded 18 different NGOs across the three poorest continents in the world, helping over 58,000 people. The help given is unique to the communities in questions and the issues they face. We don't prescribe solutions, but work with local NGOs who understand the cultural, economic and social context, who then work with the people in question to find their own path to a more sustainable future. In our projects in Brazil this is about funding a network of seed banks in one very poor state, in another it is about protecting the land rights of indigenous peoples. In Ethiopia it has been about sand bank wells to get water into remote rural villages. And in rural India it has been about providing healthcare and education in remote communities. The innocent foundation is run by Linda, an expert who has spent more than 30 years in the voluntary sector (including working for Oxfam for more than 10 years), and she brings a level of expertise and professionalism that helps drive the right results. To this end, each project is audited every six month basis, and if the project is not being managed well or not having the desired effects then the funding can be stopped. This accountability, while tough, does dramatically improve performance and mean money is not wasted on flawed projects. Of course, this is the developing world and none of the problems are simple, so we can never claim that any of these projects are perfect, but they are unfailing run by talented, committed people and are genuinely improving the lives of people who live in very tough conditions.

How are you planning to respond to the influx of mid-low price smoothies on the market (P&J price drop, Tropicana smoothies, supermarket own label)? Kirsty, by email

Competition is always good - it keeps you working hard and on your toes. Ever since we started, there have been other smoothies out there. They are a constant reminder to us that our products need to be the best tasting possible (for example, since we started, we have changed and improved our Strawberries and Bananas recipe countless times since 1999). Competition makes you focus on other stuff too, like having the lowest carbon footprint, or putting woolly hats on bottles to raise awareness of older people's challenges during winter. And we always want to make our smoothies better value for money, so for instance we've just launched our big 1.5 litre pack and are working hard to make our promotions even more visible. At the end of the day, competition also shows you whether or not your customers are happy. If our drinkers start buying another brand of smoothie instead of ours, then we know we have to work harder. This year looks like it will be especially interesting as some very big global companies are entering our market. Pepsi are having a second shot with their Tropicana Smoothies (they already own PJs), and Nestle is planning a launch later in the year as well. They will do what big companies do best - pull together a decent product and invest hugely in TV advertising. What will we do? Carry on as we always have done, making the best tasting drinks possible, doing it as responsibly as we can and having a little bit of fun along the way.

tea time

the innocent AGM

Time for some tea and a slice of cake.

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The special AGM mugs have had their first outing.

And the cake has pretty much all gone.

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