Virgin StartUps and intu launch foodpreneurs competition

A start-ups competition being run by shopping centre owner intu and Virgin StartUps has shown an increasing number of new businesses are reinventing traditional food and drink products to make it big in the retail industry.

Analysis of entries to Foodpreneur 2017 reveals a threefold increase in the number of food and drink start-ups giving much-loved foodie favourites a modern makeover, making up 42 per cent of this year’s entrants compared to just 13 per cent the last time the competition was run in 2015.

Foodpreneur semi-finalist Nick Coleman is among those to be embracing the trend with his premium pork scratchings brand Snaffling Pig which will go on sale at intu Derby from Friday (30th May) for one week. He is one of eight new food and drink businesses opening pop-up shops at intu centres across the country next week as they compete to win six weeks of free space and reach new audiences for the first time.

Nick said: “We’ve seen a number of other food and drink products go upmarket but pork scratchings have until recently remained largely untouched by this growing trend. So with Snaffling Pig we’re using modern flavours and spices to take little pig to markets he’s never seen before.”

The boom of healthy food products is another rising trend among Foodpreneur entrants, with more start-ups businesses based around vegan and healthy food applying to take part in the competition than before.

More than a third (35%) of start-ups who entered Foodpreneur 2017 sell products with a health-based benefit, such as gluten free or sugar free, compared to 21% in 2015. 28% of this year’s entrants – up from 16% in 2015 – also now cater for a purely plant-based diet. In addition, there were small increases in the number of start-ups intent on eliminating food waste as part of their business.

The trends among entries reflect some of the forecasts for the food industry made by analysts Mintel earlier this year, which predicted that consumers would be more likely to seek out modernised updates of traditional formats, all-natural products and healthier food in 2017.

David Fischel, intu chief executive, said: “We know from our history of spotting and introducing ideas to the retail market that the most successful new businesses will tap into evolving trends to develop products that are right for the modern consumer. The entrants to Foodpreneur 2017 are no exception, with a range of new food and drink brands that have been expertly developed with today’s customer in mind.

“Foodpreneur 2017 is shining a light on these creative and innovative new businesses and helping them to flourish with space in our shopping centres and online where they will have access to millions of intu customers nationwide.”

Mei Shui managing director of Virgin StartUp said: “Over the last four years we’ve seen start-ups leading the food trends in the UK and this year’s competition, which Virgin StartUp has run in partnership with shopping centre owner intu, is no exception.  It’s no surprise that our traditional favourites are being given a modern twist, everyone is looking for those new flavours and concepts, so where better to start than with original recipes!

“I’m excited to see what people visiting intu centres across the country think of the Foodpreneur products as the entries to this year’s competition were our broadest and most dynamic group of foodies yet.”

Following the semi-final stage of the competition, four finalists will be selected to present their business to celebrity judges Levi Roots, Clean Eating Alice, Paul Lindley and Jim Cregan as they compete to win six weeks of space at an intu shopping centre and online at

Foodpreneur semi-finalists:

  • Rupesh Thomas from Tuk Tuk Chai: Traditional Indian tea turns a cuppa into a spicy infusion
  • Nick Coleman from Snaffling Pig: Teaching the old pork scratching new tricks using new flavours and formats
  • Dan Pawson from Seachips: The UK’s first hand crafted salmon skin crisps
  • Alexander Foss Sims from Antler & Bird: A cold brew coffee company whose motto is ‘no milk, no sugar, no nonsense’
  • Jamie McCloskey from Love Corn: Everyone’s favourite sweet corn is roasted into a snack
  • Ryan Panchoo from Borough 22: Gluten free vegan doughnuts
  • Kaye Foong from Cheeky Boy Sauces: Sauces and dips made using all-natural ingredients
  • James Cadbury from Love Cocoa: John Cadbury’s great-great-great grandson has reinvented his famous relative’s chocolate with a gluten and soya free recipe
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