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Honest To Goodness co-founder Karen Ward on health food store success

Published March 18, 2024
In FoodPeople
Karen Ward, co-founder of organic food grocer Honest to Goodness

Karen Ward, co-founder and owner of Australian-owned health food store Honest to Goodness, has been named Organic Woman of the Year at the 2024 Australian Organic Industry Awards, acknowledging her pivotal role in pioneering a movement towards organic, sustainable practices.

Honest to Goodness, which is also a certified B Corp, was also named as a finalist for Brand of the Year, Business of the Year, and Retailer of the Year.

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“Reflecting on our journey, I’m immensely proud of our team’s dedication to establishing Honest to Goodness as a leader in the organic market, consistently prioritising ethical and sustainable practices,” Karen said. “This recognition is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our entire team and our steadfast commitment to providing honest, wholesome, and organic products to consumers nationwide.”

Previous accolades include Favourite Organic Brand, Best Organic Wholesaler, and Best Organic Online Store in the 2022 Organic Consumer Choice Awards, along with the prestigious title of Retailer of the Year 2021 from Australian Organic Ltd.

The company’s continuous success is supported by consumer demand insights unveiled in the 2023 Australian Organic Market Report, highlighting the surging demand for organic products across Australia.

“As revealed in the Australian Organic Market Report 2023, consumer demand for organic products continues to rise, spotlighting the importance of our industry,” added Karen. “Recognition from the Australian Organic Industry further motivates us to continue our mission of providing high-quality, sustainable food options to meet this growing demand.”

Karen Ward in the aisle of an Honest to Goodness health food store

Honest to Goodness had humble beginnings as a market stall in 2002. Here’s what Karen had to say about the brand’s success, its challenges, and what’s next.

Why is Honest to Goodness succeeding in the industry where others have failed?
“I think a lot of the success of the business comes because of the trust and loyalty that we have built up over the years of being in business. Being family-owned and operated, we can prioritise things that matter, like quality and sustainability, and choose to operate authentically and ethically. This really resonates with our customers who share similar values and have the health and well-being of themselves and the planet at the heart of their purchasing decisions.”

What is the most challenging thing about running Honest to Goodness?
“One of the most challenging parts of running the business is the complexity of our supply chain. We have a large range of products that come from all over the world, and each product and supplier is unique in their own way. However, this is also one of the most interesting and intriguing aspects of the business: our growers and suppliers, big and small, are truly making a difference in the world.”

Have you noticed any shifting trends since the launch of Honest to Goodness? What are they?
“Since we started Honest to Goodness, there has been a noticeable shift in consumer awareness and interest around organics and sustainable agriculture. Whilst this is great for us and for the planet, this trend has brought a lot more competition in the market, which has been an interesting one to navigate. Another trend certainly has been the rise in food intolerances which seems to affect more and more people each year; our range has naturally evolved to cater to many different intolerances, and now have a dedicated allergen-free production area at our manufacturing site in Villawood.
A recent trend is a growing interest in the support of regenerative farming practices and being certified sustainable. Hopefully we hear more about these in the future as Certified Sustainable independently validates and verifies real ESG achievements, providing the consumer some confidence.”

What’s next for Honest to Goodness?
“Looking ahead, Honest to Goodness is committed to ongoing growth with a core focus on making healthy simple and accessible to more people while helping them on the path to a sustainable lifestyle. We have recently acquired 2die4 Live Foods in Byron Bay, Absolute Organics and Eco Organics and are incorporating these into our product offering while actively pursuing new acquisition opportunities with brands that align with our values. Additionally, Honest to Goodness will continue to foster partnerships with like-minded organisations and advocate for positive change in the industry, in the hope of inspiring others to embrace a more sustainable way of living. As we have grown, we have outgrown our current warehouse, so a move is also on the cards in the near future, which is exciting as it will open up new possibilities for us.”

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