Meet Flaming Phoenix, the social impact business tackling food insecurity
This World Humanitarian Day, partner and entrepreneur team lead Hollie Gallagher sits down with James Frost, Founder and Managing Director of social impact business, Flaming Phoenix, to find out how his company is tackling food insecurity through a ground-breaking, humanitarian venture to bring their exciting food ration bar – the Phoenix Bar – to thousands of people around the world facing hunger.
Tell us a bit about Flaming Phoenix
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 735 million people around the world are currently facing hunger.
Several factors are contributing to the rapid rise in food insecurity, including climate change, political conflicts, and socio-economic upheavals.
I have always been deeply passionate about helping those in need. To this effect, I created Flaming Phoenix – an exciting organisation whose purpose is to supply a unique food bar, namely, the Phoenix Bar, to charities, NGOs and governments globally who provide food to those in need in order to prevent hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition globally.
The Phoenix Bar has been carefully crafted to address the critical challenges faced by humanitarian efforts. It is nutritionally complete (meeting all of the WHO’s criteria for a nutritionally balanced meal), ready-to-eat (requiring no cooking or water for preparation), compact, flavoursome, easily storable, vegan and has a long shelf life. The bar can also be mixed with water to form porridge which is suitable for those without teeth or with swallowing difficulties.
Our goal is to be the largest provider of food aid and rations globally, which will contribute to a significant reduction in hunger, food insecurity, malnutrition and suffering globally and help the United Nations get closer to their 2nd Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger.
What inspired you to set up Flaming Phoenix?
The spark of inspiration for Flaming Phoenix came in 2020 when I saw on Facebook that a friend was participating in the ‘Ration Challenge’. (The Ration Challenge, as you might deduce, consisted of raising awareness of the limited rations provided to refugees by having volunteers eat the same food for one week as a fundraising activity). Witnessing the participants consuming the same rations provided to Syrian refugees, I couldn’t help but notice the glaring inadequacy in their nutritional quality.
Drawing on my passion for health and fitness, I undertook comprehensive research to understand the state of food aid and the rations available to those facing food insecurity. The findings were alarming. The food rations and food aid available to charitable organisations and governments consistently failed to meet the nutritional standards set by the World Health Organisation (WHO). These rations suffered from various additional shortcomings, not only perpetuating dependency in recipients but driving down local prices and hurting local producers. The rations were also susceptible to supply-side shocks and logistical challenges and were often culturally inappropriate for recipients.
Deeply moved by these revelations, I was determined to make a difference and address these critical issues head-on.
Tell us about an exciting project you are working on at the moment.
Currently, I am working on an inspiring project focused on addressing malnutrition among asylum seekers in the UK. After reading a concerning article in the Guardian about their suffering, I opened discussions with various organisations to explore how Flaming Phoenix’s nutritious food bars could be utilised to prevent and treat malnutrition effectively.
I am deeply motivated to combat the alarming rates of malnutrition in the UK more generally. A recent Times Health Commission report highlighted that over 11,000 people were treated for malnutrition in hospitals last year. To this end, I am engaging with hospitals, care homes, food banks, and GPs to understand how our Phoenix Bars can play a role in preventing and treating this epidemic. Through collaboration with these entities, I am determined to make a meaningful impact on the lives of those affected by malnutrition and bring about positive change in their well-being.
As an entrepreneur, what steps have you taken to align your company’s values with the principles of social responsibility?
At Flaming Phoenix, aligning our company’s values with social responsibility has always been a top priority. I firmly believe that businesses have a significant role to play in creating a positive social impact. To achieve this, we have taken several important steps:
Firstly, our Phoenix Bar is entirely vegan and free from palm oil, reflecting our commitment to sustainability and ethical practices.
Secondly, we offer various sustainable packaging and shipping options to minimise our environmental footprint.
Moreover, our long-term goal is to produce Phoenix Bars locally in regions afflicted by hunger and food insecurity. By adopting substitutable core ingredients, we can tailor the bar’s formula to the available resources in each specific region. This approach fosters financial support for local farmers, promotes food production, and contributes to solving long-term food insecurity issues. Additionally, producing locally reduces the carbon footprint of our bars, furthering our dedication to environmental stewardship.
How has your business leveraged technology to make a positive impact on your community?
I have always looked to leverage social media, online platforms, and digital marketing to raise awareness about food insecurity and malnutrition on a global scale, as well as to shine a light on our unique solution for these massive and worsening problems. Through these digital channels, we can engage with a broader audience, garner support, and connect with like-minded individuals, organisations, and potential collaborators – helping us to gain a better understanding of how we can solve these issues.
As an entrepreneur, how do you balance the pursuit of profit against a commitment to humanitarian principles?
For Flaming Phoenix, the pursuit of profit is not at odds with our commitment to humanitarian principles; rather, they are complementary aspects of our business philosophy. We firmly believe that a sustainable and profitable business model is crucial to effecting meaningful and lasting change in society.
By ensuring our financial success, we can invest in research and development to continuously improve the quality and impact of our Phoenix Bars. These innovations allow us to reach more communities in need, creating a positive feedback loop where profitability fuels our ability to make a difference.
Our dedication to humanitarian principles is ingrained in our business practices, and every decision we make is guided by the goal of maximising our social impact. By striking this balance between profit and social responsibility, Flaming Phoenix can forge a path towards a better future while securing the longevity of our mission.