What was the inspiration for starting ?
My lazy, time-poor son was the starting point for my Pep & Lekker adventure, because I noticed that despite all his good intentions his health was starting to lapse. Rummaging around the shops for tasty, vegan-friendly food solutions I quickly became disenchanted by the recurring poor quality and token appetite appeal of so many, so-called category pioneers.
The deeper I dug the more disenchanted I became about the various health claims being touted by so many free-from propositions that were at best spurious and at worst deliberately misleading. Worse than that, their ingredients inventory often included a sprinkling of trumped-up ingredients that were anything but all-natural. Our simple vision was to showcase plant-based propositions in an altogether tastier, more transparent light.
Describe a typical day at Pep & Lekker HQ?
‘My working day is long and very varied. I try and be as responsive as I can to customers and suppliers which inevitably means that a good chunk is spent responding to emails and phone calls. No task is off bounds when you’re small and finding your way, which means a lot of dealing with orders, following leads and testing new products to make sure that we never stand still.
Being a ‘people person’ I think it’s vital to try and sprinkle my day with some face-to-face meetings and instore samplings where it’s great to engage with ‘real’ people that actually buy our products and get their honest feedback.’
Where do you see Pep & Lekker in 5 years’ time?
Our reach is deliberately inclusive, from frustrated vegans and pregnant/soon-to-be mums, to open-minded flexitarians, inquisitive coeliacs, health-conscious silver foxes & any time-poor snacking enthusiasts looking for a tasty, no compromise nibble.
As a London-based brand our 1stpriority is to build down a meaningful presence within the City’s ‘healthier living’ retailers before extending our reach outside the M25 and beyond, aligning with a couple of ahead-of-the game major mults, some healthy outlook wholesalers, a notable online presence, a rapidly reinventing itself hotel/hospitality/transport sector (trains, planes….) and a first foray into export opportunities.
What do you think will be the 3 biggest food trends of this year?
Packaging transparency:there needs to a positive crackdown to reduce much of deliberately foggy often misleading copy that too often masquerades as scientific truths.
Gluten-free:after over a decade of persistent double-digit growth, it’s fair to suggest that free-from is here to stay. Hopefully a time will come when the leading lights within this sector will be allowed to evacuate that curious ‘niche’ aisle that few people venture down and be instead be resettled down the relevant everyday aisles next to their gluten-packed peers.
Organic: we believe that all plant-based foods ultimately have the right to be farmed with care and integrity and not be doused in dubious pesticides. Farming has made such significant strides in recent years that the nation would do well to reconsider the size of its organic footprint because organics is so much more than a marketing wheeze or upper class pastime.
What do you like to eat/drink?
I love eating fresh vegetables and fruit and having worked really hard to stop my addiction to sugar actively try and avoid any foods that feed that sugar spike. I always include Pep & Lekker products
in my daily diet as I would not sell anything that I did not eat everyday myself. Lunch is a Pep & Lekker soup and in the afternoon I will have a packet of seed snacks to keep my appetite at bay until supper. Works a real treat!
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