From the LAFIC programme, Abilasha Bhohi, Cait Duggan, Sabrina Montourcy and Taeya Abdel-Majeed have been picked for their brilliant ideas, passion for their businesses, and the motivation they show.
The food industry had a strange year through 2020. Before the pandemic, 70% of our food was purchased through supermarkets and the rest came from restaurants, cafés and takeaways. Now, just 5-10% of our food are coming from external sources. A surge in home-baking even lead to a shortage of flour during the UK's first lockdown, and it's unknown whether thistrend will stay, or whether we will return to buying our sweet treats in-stores.
When restaurant doors were closed - cutting valuable income for suppliers - take-away couriers went on the attack to fill the gap. Deliveroo has now been valued at $7bn (January 2021) as they prepare for the stock market. It's possible that the way we purchase and consume food might be changed for a long, long time.
Additional pressures on the industry are numerous. Trends from our interviews with food businesses show an increasing acknowledgement of the competitiveness of the food industry, mixed with the uncertainty created by consumers undervaluing the cost and technicality of food production and distribution. LAFIC provides free support to food and drink entrepreneurs with the aim of reducing pressures like these. Connecting businesses with industry experts and foodtech academics help them access technical and business knowledge, leaving them with more resource to focus onother important areas of business - marketing, scaling up, and distribution.
These four entrepreneurs have weathered the storm of Coronavirus and are standing the test of the food industry's competitive environment - we're proud to be a part of their business journey.
Read on to find out more about each entrepreneur.
Abilasha Bhohi was inspired to create her vegan, all-natural and clean label ice cream brand whilst backpacking in South America. Moonji is the first every Ayurvedic-inspired ice cream brand - the flavours are created using spices, superfoods and adaptogens (natural herbs that have pharmaceutical properties that can defend against fatigue, stimulate the nervous system, and even protect nerve cells against damage or degeneration).
"I was volunteering a lot, staying with local families and eating like a local. We’d take turns to cook,and every time I cooked I would always cook Indian food. I was born in London, but my heritage is Indian, so I really began to find this new love of cooking with spices and Indian food and sharing it with people, and that's where the inspiration for Moonji came from. I wanted to find a unique way of expressing this part of me, and using Indian spices was a way of doing that."
Abilasha's background is in Physics - she credits her Physics BSc for transferable skills and science knowledge, which has helped her perfect her ice-cream formula.
Moonji is currently available in Farmacy's vegan restaurant, Notting Hill; In En Root, a vegan restaurant in Clapham; and also Fortnum & Mason's The Palour. Abilasha also has a local delivery service. She hopes to expand into more independent stores andmainstream supermarkets.
Find out more about Abilasha and Moonji in her interview.
Cait is a TV commercial production assistant who is founding Skip & Chick in her spare time. She was inspired to start the meat-alternative business by her own experience as a 'flexitarian'.
"I've been passional about fitness and nutrition for as long as I can remember, constantly experimenting with new, healthy recipes ... As someone who is trying to cut own on meat, I noticed there is a lack of natural, non-soy based meat-alternatives out there,which actually taste good and contain simple ingredients. Research shows a majority of people are now choosing fish over meat as their protein source, but of course still miss meat products such as sausages! I realised a sustainable seafood and chickpea sausage could tick all those boxes, have additional health benefits and taste great!"
The result? A sausage that is high protein, high fibre, and extremely tasty.
Cait is now working on getting her product finalised, tested and into people's hands. Read more about her experience here.
Sabrina is a Parisian who came to London 11 years ago. She grew up in a family of entrepreneurs and has a high level of experience in hospitality, business development and sales.
Sabrina and her business partner, Bi Jan, started Butcher & Bab in 2016 as a street-food business. Together, they sold free-range and high quality kebabs up and down the country, until they opened their first brick and mortar Kebab shop two years later. They now also sell home-made "Sab's Saucy Scotch Bonnet" sauce from their Liverpool Street Store.
"[Sab's Saucy Scotch Bonney Sauce] can be used for cooking, or as a condiment for pretty much anything. It doesn't contain preservatives nor additives, is vegan friendly, has no added sugar, and is made from natural ingredients. Finally, it tastes awesome!"
Sabrina's experience on the market stall helped her develop a true understanding of what her target audience wanted. The sauce is currently undergoing shelf life and nutritional testing, which will help the business to push the product commercially.
Find out more about Sabrina's journey from kid in a French Brasserie to Sauce Entrepreneur in her interview.
Taeya is a food entrepreneur who finds pleasure in "moving businesses beyond the idea stage to build solid realities with impact". She started No Guilt Bakes with co-founder Maya after adopting the ketogenic lifestyle which helped them lose a collective 40kg in two years.
"Cakes, puddings and biscuits have always been our biggest vice, and since starting our keto journey, we have both struggled to find delicious and affordable sweet treats. Frustrated by the lack of ketogenic-diet friendly, sugar-free snacks available on the market, we started to bake our own, and started to share them with our dads and other friends and family."
After spending months perfecting recipes, they launched to market in 2019. No Guilt Bakes now offer a huge range of healthy but delicious sweet treats, from 'cake bites' to waffle mix - and every single one is gluten free and keto-friendly.
No Guilt Bakes are now beginning to expand into savoury foods. They're also a fantastic example of the impact of SBI programmes, having joined DeK Growth Programme as well as LAFIC.
Find out more about No Guilt Bakes through our interview with Taeya, here.
Are you looking for free support as you create a new product for London's food and beverage market? Take a look at LAFIC.
Want to hear more about the female entrepreneurs we support? Read "4 Women to Watch in Healthtech" next!