Q: Firstly, thank you for speaking to us today. Mike, tell us a little bit about what One Planet Pizza is?
A: One Planet Pizza was founded about five years ago by myself and my son Joe. We’re the UK’s only frozen vegan pizza business and we’re all about pizza with purpose.
We recognise that pizza is one of the world’s favourite fast foods and the aim of the business is to provide a high quality, very tasty but much more environmentally and animal friendly pizza compared to those traditional meat and dairy alternatives.
Our classic range includes a Hawaiian, a margarita and a fungi feast. If people want to reduce their carbon footprint, eat a pizza that’s a little healthier and don’t want to involve any animal exploitation, we are the obvious choice.
Q: What was the motivation behind starting One Planet Pizza?
A: I turned vegan when I was 18, so 37 years ago. I’ve always been fascinated by the alternative that is plant-based eating and the benefits to our health and environment of reducing our meat and dairy intake.
Around ten years ago I set up a vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Trowse and ran that with some other partners for four or five years. It was towards the end of that time that Joe had graduated and had a job which he enjoyed but wasn’t really passionate about. Joe turned vegan pretty soon after graduating so we started thinking about the sorts of things that we could do together which would be fun and we knew that the plant based sector was growing but we didn’t realise how much it was going to grow.
We’ve always loved pizza and Saturday night was always pizza night in our family. We used to make them from scratch and the kids always used to help me so pizza just seemed to be the natural thing for us to do and when we looked at the market, there seemed to be a real gap for a high quality, premium and challenger-type brand in this particular sector.
Q: Since One Planet Pizza was started, you’ve seen great success. What has been your favourite moment since starting One Planet Pizza?
A: I haven’t been asked that one before! I think one of the most exciting moments was when we got listed on Ocado because up until then the business had grown quite organically and slowly. We started off selling in two or three shops in Norwich, 15 across East Anglia and then 100 independent shops around the country. When we got listed in Ocado about two years ago, it made a lot of difference because it meant that we had national reach. This was the realisation that we were moving away from being a niche specialist product sold in boutique type shops to something that was available on a national basis.
Q: We’ve seen that you have used crowdfunding. How have you found crowdfunding as a method of raising finance?
A: We did crowdfunding right at the beginning of the business story with Seedrs for a small amount. We want to be a real community-orientated / led brand and we thought Seedrs was a suitable vehicle for achieving this.
We brought a lot of investors with us so it wasn’t so much the people that were already on the Seedrs platform but more friends, family and social media followers. We ended up with 104 investors, averaging out at £350 each so it wasn’t really a typical crowdfund. Those investors have helped us to grow the brand and we’ve involved them in the creation of the brand.
Since the original crowdfund, we’ve had two further lots of funding one from a private individual and then we did a larger round, more formally in the last six months and we got a mixture of angel investors and a couple of plant-based investment funds as well.
Q: Congratulations - it sounds like crowdfunding has really worked for One Planet Pizza! As for the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, what are the biggest challenges that the business has faced?
A: Fortunately, we are a business that is made up of 95% retail and 5% food service so we haven’t really been hit by the pandemic. Just before the pandemic hit in the UK we launched an online ordering service for consumers to buy online and have home delivered frozen pizzas. We have seen great success with this following a massive spike in home delivery of food due to the pandemic.
The only thing that we have had to be even more conscious of is food safety and hygiene. We have been working on securing and isolating the production unit to ensure optimum food safety/hygiene is achieved. This has been supplemented with keeping visitors to a minimum.
One Planet Pizza is now sold in more than 500 independent shops across the UK. Birketts thanks Mike for his time and continues to wish the business every success for the future.
The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at November 2021.