This week’s Ethical Marketer Interview introduces you to an amazing ethical business that has achieved so much in such a short space of time. They have even been listed in Business Leaders as one of the 'Top 25 Sustainable UK Companies That Are Out To Save The Planet'.
I was super excited to interview Joe Hill, Co-Founder of One Planet Pizza, the UK's first vegan frozen pizza company and hear how their journey has taken them to great accomplishments.
Here Joe shares their story of how they started and what they have achieved.
If you would like to see the full video interview you can watch it HERE
Tell Us About One Planet Pizza How It All Started
The idea came about in 2016 with my dad Mike, who is the other Director, when he was chatting with a long term vegan friend and they realised that the vegan market had exploded, especially in the food sector. There was loads turning up on the supermarket shelves, but one area there was a real gap in was frozen vegan pizzas. They then spoke to me as I had turned vegan a year or two before that and we all had a conversation and decided that is what we were put on this earth to do. We are all vegans, we love our food, we had already been making pizzas since we were young and it was a great opportunity as there was nothing out there like it. We thought this is what we want as vegans so this is what we are going to produce for other vegans and for others to eat less meat and dairy as well.
We then spent many nights experimenting with pizzas, going right back the basic ingredients and making it all from scratch, taking out all the nasty artificial stuff that you see in frozen pizzas on the shelf. We said, what can we put in them to make them healthier, keep them plant-based, but never compromise on the flavour. So, from the beginning we decided to make four classic like for like flavours. We didn’t want anything too different or extravagant. We wanted meat and dairy eaters to think that’s something they eat anyway, lets see if it takes just as good. We really didn’t want to go down the strange ingredients path so we kept it very classic and simple and then added ingredients that boost nutritionals, but also served in terms of functionality. So we added Chia seeds which contain all the essential amino acids and really high in protein, fibre and Omega 3 as well. So we put them in our tomato sauce which created a natural thickener and we also used Flax seeds in our bases, which gave them a unique flavour and were healthy as well.
We did a Crowd funding campaign locally to get started, which was the first ever vegan or vegetarian crowdfunding for a community owned company and raised £25,000 in just a week. This enable us to use a local vegetarian restaurant to create our pizzas and get a van for deliveries. We started with 2 local shops and a growing this every month. We had so many requests that we had to crowd fund again to get a purpose built kitchen of our own and are now producing around 2,000 pizzas a week. We went from 2 stockist to 30 in about a month a two and it kept doubling for a while.
We eventually had to get a couple of wholesalers on board to help us to distribute them because we couldn’t just do it ourselves anymore. We now have 6 warehouses and approx. 450 stockists all over the country, which are all independent health stores, which is what we wanted to focus on.
What Other Measures Do You Take To Be An Environmentally Friendly Business?
It’s at the core of everything we have done. It’s not just about making a pizza that’s healthier for people and plant based. We wanted to look at what other ways we could be as a business to lead the way and be as sustainable as possible and be responsible for our actions and be proud of it.
We source all our ingredients as locally as possible, to reduce the carbon footprint for deliveries. We also use a local packaging companies. Anglia Print who do our sleeves are one of the most sustainable printing companies in the country and have won numerous awards. Everything they do for us is carbon positive certified. Our boxes are made of part recycled materials, using vegan inks and can be recycled or can even be composted at home and we are the first pizza company to do this.
We support local businesses and even deliver to them ourselves to reduce the carbon emissions. We also champion plant based diets on the box with part of the label saying
‘Cutting meat and dairy products from your diet can reduce your carbon footprint by up to 73%’
as we feel that changing your diet is the single easiest thing you can do that has the most impact on reducing your carbon footprint as a consumer.
What Areas Of Marketing Have You Tried Since You Started?
We have taken a modern approach to our marketing. From the start, it was always about social media for us. We never had a lot of money as it has always gone into increasing our production. Any money we did have went into social media, but it’s been mainly time. We’ve been building up a massive following, mainly on Instagram, then Twitter and Facebook and just creating a brand that has a story. The big brands can beat you on price and pretty much everything else expect what is unique to you and that is your story.
What Is Your Biggest Marketing Success?
I think the best achievement for us was winning the National Vegfest Award, which we won 2 years in a row for Best Frozen Ready Meal and Best Frozen Fast Food. That was down to social media getting the word out and asking people to vote for us. That was massive for us. Then this year we won the VIVA! Best Vegan Pizza award.
What Has Been Your Biggest Marketing Obstacle?
Not having the cash that other businesses have. We get emails every week asking us to put adverts in national magazines and TV and radio but it’s all cost that we would rather put into producing more pizzas.
What One Marketing Tip Would You Give To An Eco Start Up?
Get yourself known not just by consumers, also by connecting with other brands whose ethics align with yours. Those that have a bigger reach and a great brand awareness who have customers that might be interested in buying your products as well.
When we first started we reached out to some of our favourite vegan brands and we did giveaways and competitions. We met up with them and did stories and posts together, without spending a lot of money or impacting on them too much. We were piggybacking off their followers and their customers were still buying their products and then buying ours too, so it was working for everyone.
It doesn’t just work with other brands. We also teamed up with YouTubers and bloggers and vloggers and influencers right from the start. We give them vegan pizzas and they get the brand awareness out there, through their channels. It comes down to figuring out who else aligns with your ethics and probably shares the same customers that you will have in the future and how you can mutually work together.
How Can People Get One Of Your Pizzas?
We always like to champion the independent and local shops first as that is how we started. We are now in 450 independent health stores around the UK and the easiest way to find one near you is to go to our website www.oneplanetpizza.com and look at our stockists locator map.
We also launched on Ocado earlier last year who sell our full range of pizzas. We are also on Vegan Kind Supermarket and hoping to launch in some larger retailers in early 2020.
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This is Suzii, signing out for now. Have a great day everyone!