Britain is one the best places in the world for and drink. When you take a step back and consider our historical place in the history of food and drink, this is quite astonishing.
Just a decade ago, the then French President Jacques Chirac is claimed to have quipped to Gerhard Schroeder and Vladimir Putin that “the only thing they [the English]have ever done for European agriculture is mad cow disease”; that “one cannot trust people whose cuisine is so bad”; and “after Finland, it is the country with the worst food.”
Chirac’s claim was probably unfair then; it is preposterous now. Britain – and London in particular – is brimming with culinary innovation. I caught up with the founders of five companies making a difference.
Ella Mills, Founder, Deliciously Ella
Philip Salter: What does your company do and what are your ambitions?
Ella Mills: Deliciously Ella started as a food blog and a social media project, before developing into a #1 app, best selling cookbooks, three London delis and retail products, which are stocked in multiple locations around the UK from Starbucks to Waitrose, Sainsburys, Holland and Barrett, Boots and WHSmith. The aim of Deliciously Ella is to become the go-to brand for healthy living, we’re aiming to make eating well appealing and accessible, changing the perception of healthy living taking it from niche and unappealing to mainstream and interesting.
Salter: What have been the biggest challenges in starting and growing your company?
Mills: We started in an unusual way, as we built a brand with a large, engaged following and a media presence through the blog and social media before creating a product. This was totally unintentional, as the blog had started as a personal project but it opened a lot of doors and allowed us to launch the delis and the products in a big way from day one, however doing everything on such a big scale from day one also created one of our biggest challenges, which was ensuring that everything was absolutely perfect instantly rather than perfecting the product as we grew. This meant that we weren’t able to hone our knowledge and abilities over time and definitely added a lot of pressure! Ensuring that we kept the brand consistent throughout this growth, especially as we’ve moved so quickly, has also been a challenge and required 24/7 attention.
Salter: What do you think of Britain’s food and drink scene?
Mills: I think it’s a really exciting place to be at the moment, as it feels like there’s a lot of innovation across the board from restaurants, to international influences and products. We have a big focus on natural products, which mostly sit within the free-from space, and it feels as though there’s a big opportunity there at the moment, as they tend to be quite fragmented aisles.