“The vegan bubble is not about to burst but we sometimes get lost in food fads”
The Seed Fund does very good things. We’ve been involved with this philanthropic scheme, supporting food and drink start-ups, for a few years now, and walking into No 42 Southwark Street one day in June reminded me why nurturing fledgling producers is incredibly fulfilling.
There was a worthy sound boom as I strolled into the room, which looked a little like one of those desperate speed-dating fixtures of the early Nineties (no I didn’t). Advice, ideas, pats on the back, investment, schmoozing – it was all there.
Mostly young folk were taking part in this Seed Fund mentoring day, wide-eyed and, quite frankly, full of it.
I’m one of 30-or-so mentors corralled by Seed Fund founder Jayne Noblet and her team of branding experts at The Collaborators, and it is fair to say these industry-savvy and experienced sages get as much out of it as the rookies. It felt healthy. Very healthy. Almost vegan.
Yes, among the start-ups there was a fair mention of free-from et al. And I understand why. But my take-away comment of that day was from a senior London food buyer (a young, cool one I hasten to add) who looked at me at one point and said: “I just want someone to pitch a product that’s full-fat.”
She meant it. None of us believe the vegan bubble is about to burst but we sometimes get lost in food fads and I’d hate for any deli to drop their fave finocchiona for an insect salami that just doesn’t taste as good as the fully leaded variety. You must stock free-from, there is no doubt, but don’t become a health store. They’re very different.
My stand-out producers from the Seed Fund day will explain all you need to know about me. A man harvesting salt in Dorset in a very small way – its simplicity pleased. Another who made bar snacks finely-tuned to match certain alcoholic drinks (surely not).
An attractive couple from north Wales with their seasonal wild garlic pesto (remember food and seasonality?).
And then, at the end, a brownie. Crisp outer, that essential gooey inner and a rich chocolate sweetness that carried on without cloying. It was gluten-free. Irritating.
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