Exporting Case Study: Tidy Planet
Helping to drive sustainable solutions for businesses
Food waste experts helping to drive sustainable solutions for businesses across the world
Tidy Planet, based in Macclesfield, has fast become a brand known as the ‘food waste experts’, with 20 years of experience in developing innovative food waste recycling technologies.
This company was borne from a very personal need when engineer Simon Webb designed a composter device to help his father, a keen gardener, who had a stroke. This mechanical composter was the perfect solution to dealing with waste on the family’s smallholding. At the turn of the century in 2000, the foot and mouth outbreak took hold due to farm animals eating infected meat, new laws came into place which stipulated farm animals could no longer eat meat waste, which provided an opportunity for the family to turn their product into a commercial proposition. Testing took place in 2005 with DEFRA and, shortly after, the products were being sold to universities and prison services across the UK as a cost-effective means of managing food waste. From listening to client needs, mechanical engineer Simon was able to develop and expand the product range to include a machine that takes the water out of food and also a waste food dryer.
Expanding their reach beyond the UK
Companies from overseas started to learn about the product range through the website and in 2009 a New York-based company expressed interest in becoming a distributor for the products. With support from the Department for International Trade the team then increased their focus on overseas opportunities, to help to grow their distributor network, particularly in Europe. Now Tidy Planet have assigned distributors in over 10 countries across the world.
Sales to the Middle East have been of significant value for this SME in recent years due to a small number of major capital projects focussed on oil and gas fields which incorporated the requirement for on-site food waste solutions. In countries where temperatures reach highs of 40 degrees in the summer and lows of minimum 40 degrees in winter, Tidy Planet Gobi food waster dryers are essential in isolated work communities. These contracts took the company’s turnover up to £2.3million in one year alone.
Huw Crampton, Sales Manager at Tidy Planet, shared how the business has managed to stay ahead of competitors by recognising the importance of their website presence from the outset: “In the early days of the business, we placed a lot of value on ensuring our website was fully optimised, and we have maintained this process over the years. Google is the silent watcher of any business so it is vital that our website is up to date with laws and legislation changes, remaining relevant within our sector. The website content is key to how our enquiries are generated and received.”
Huw went on to say that once international orders were received, the support of South Cheshire Chamber of Commerce proved to be invaluable in completing export documentation and understanding the process of exporting. Over the years the team have built a strong relationship with the Chamber and received incredible one-to-one support which has enabled their international growth.
Jane Booth from South Cheshire Chamber commented “Our Chamber has worked with Tidy Planet for over 5 years. As a micro company solving very local needs they were excited and keen to embrace the enquiries from overseas but could not really afford to get things wrong. They approached the Chamber, attended events such as the Chamber’s Brexit Webinar, which they found very useful, and we hand-held them through the process of successfully getting their goods to market and getting paid! It is tremendously satisfying to see a local company such as Tidy Planet, borne out of innovation to solve a personal need, now selling to companies across the world, including to blue chips and island resorts. We are proud to be part of their export journey.”
Plans for the future?
With the increasing importance of sustainability and renewable energy sources Tidy Planet are now expanding the product applications into the waste-to-energy market enabling the dried food waste to be used as a biomass fuel, to generate heat and hot water. This will open up further opportunities in the UK and across the world.