Rebalancing industry through nature

Jamie Combs, Founder & Managing Director

The food revolution is upon us in the UK, part of a bigger picture that’s transforming companies and making them get back to – and work with – nature.

“If you want to be healthy, you get in harmony with nature – you eat what comes out of the ground,” says Jamie Combs, founder and Managing Director of Natural Balance Foods, which makes Nākd and Trek bars. “Anything else is just nonsense.”

Combs sees this revolution as having three stages. The first, he explains, began 10 years ago when people started to realise the nutritional value of healthy eating – which he calls the “awakening”. It was during this time that brands like Natural Balance Foods exploded onto the UK market.

But this is where the confectionery and processed foods industry have been missing the bigger picture, Combs points out. Although these sorts of companies are getting in on the health trend and launching no-sugar, low-calorie products, it does not mean they’re as good for consumers as something Mother Nature made.

“We think the fundamental problem in the food industry is that you just have too much processed food,” he says. “The model should be wholefoods – the stuff that comes out of the ground.”

People need to be aware of the distinction between what are whole foods and what are not, Combs stresses. Food needs to be labelled correctly to create a clear delineation in the public eye between natural foods and processed, refined ones.

The second part of the revolution is what’s happening at the moment, with some companies rebalancing themselves to a whole-foods model. “We are in an era of experimentation,” says Combs, “where retailers are trying to get the balance right. That means there are going to be new brands and products. It is not just thinking [in terms of] unhealthy and healthy, but drilling down into what that means.

“Healthy means closer to nature. That is significant, as opposed to low-calorie, and has vast implications on brand, marketing, consumer trends and behaviour. That is the revolution.”

Combs views this revolution as a part of a bigger movement that is impacting all industries. He says: “The food industry is one little micro-organism in this. Tesla is doing it with cars [running on] solar energy. It is the same great rebalancing. It is this dawning holistic insight that we have to work with nature.

“There is also this post-industrial revolution. We are realising we are not above nature, conquering it. We are inside nature, part of it. That has huge implications in the business world.”

The last phase, Combs explains – which is still unfolding for most companies – is a clean, green future where retailers will come to a point where working with nature is normal.

Natural Balance Foods has embraced this future from the beginning, and Combs hopes other companies will also see the bigger picture and follow, taking advantage of the benefits that the revolution brings along the way.

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