It’s quite something to be labelled ‘Britain’s greenest man’ – especially when your trade is in the cutthroat business world where profit and consumerism often takes precedence over environmental issues. But Craig Sams’ credentials are there for all to see. SHAUN CURRAN reports
Sams may have been born in Nebraska, but his name (and his fortune) has been made in the UK, starting way back in the late 1960s when his macrobiotic restaurant, the first of its kind in Europe, opened in London. It proved such a hit that John Lennon and Yoko Ono and The Rolling Stones were regular visitors. Why, he even supplied organic food at the first ever Glastonbury Festival in 1971. It proved to be so popular that the competition was booted out of the site.
So when he started the Green and Blacks organic chocolate range with his wife Josephine Fairley in 1991 (after the success of several books, of which, About Macrobiotics was hugely influential) Sams succeeded from an opportunity few others even realised was there.
‘We figured that once people knew it was locally sourced, they would be willing to pay a premium. And we thought that people would like the local nature of the product’
‘That’s true,’ he says. ‘Back then, nobody saw a future for the independents, and the way it was meant to be done was mass market. But we wanted to do it differently, because the mass market looked very impersonal to us. We wanted to turn locally, put the emphasis back onto local farms and local people. We figured that once people knew it was locally sourced, they would be willing to pay a premium. And we thought that people would like the local nature of the product.
‘Of course, there are lots of people who don’t care where their food is sourced from, and that is fine. That is easy to understand, as the majority of that food is not as expensive to buy compared to locally-sourced produce, and there’s a convenience argument as well. But I do think that people also want a bit extra, and if you can get a personal angle to the product they are buying, it means all the more.’
The Moment talks to… Craig Sams, founder of Green & Blacks 1 2