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  • Rachel Dean

Chances are you won’t be here in two years’ time.

How do you engage an audience when talking about launching an FMCG brand? Tell them the cold hard truth that 80-90% of FMCG brands fail within two years. This was the approach Stephen Minall Founder of FD Reviews took in his recent seminar at the IFE, International Food and Drink Event at ExCeL on ‘What not to do when launching your brand’.

IFE is the key event for the food and drink industry. With over 1,500 suppliers representing over 90 countries, industry professionals from retail, wholesale and hospitality all nestled under one roof.


What was striking about this statement is that this year saw the IFE introduce a new feature to the event, the StartUp Market. A dedicated zone for startup businesses that have been trading for less than two years to showcase their products.

So who are the ones to watch?


Pukpip

By far the most popular product to sample at the event. Real frozen banana dipped in chocolate – what is not to love? With a mission to ‘help consumers eat more fruit in a fun, delicious and convenient way’ this vibrant and bold brand is certainly set to disrupt the ice cream category. Tapping into the rise of indulgent snacking amongst consumers who are torn between healthy eating.


With a strong brand and delicious product, the future looks promising for Pukpip. As with a shift in consumer opinion, the demand for frozen food is growing. Driven by its convenience, longer shelf life, improved nutritional value and improved quality. Yet with a small percentage of floorspace dedicated to the frozen category at present, will there be enough demand to steal freezer space from Ben & Jerry’s, Wall’s, Häagen-Dazs and not forgetting supermarket own-label brands.


Fermenti

Fermented foods have become a key food trend in recent years due to a growing interest in gut health and the microbiome. Many cultures around the world ferment their food: yoghurt, miso, sauerkraut and my personal favourite kimchi. This process not only preserves the food but also creates new and complex flavours and textures.


Fermenti, whilst not the most inventive name, brings the first fermented fruit bio cookie bites to the market. These delightful and vibrant snacks are packed full of polyphenols and are high in fibre, providing consumers with gut health on the go. These tasty treats certainly tap into a key trend and also consumer demand, yet it’s difficult to see how Fermenti’s current pouch format will fit into the snack category and stand out on the shelf.


Naked Bakes

Aisling Tuck founder of Naked Bakes delivered a confident and passionate presentation during the ‘New Product Pitch Hour – Bakery, Snacks & Confectionery’. Naked Bakes brings a completely plant-based cookie dough, packed full of sustainable Irish ingredients. A perfect product you can pop in the fridge or freezer, allowing you to create freshly baked, homemade cookies for those unexpected visitors.


What I loved about this product was how the minimal parchment paper packaging had a dual purpose. The rustic approach gave the packaging a handmade and homely feel which added to its charm. However, the packaging wasn’t without its pitfalls. The printed label is currently sealed by a sticker, no problem with that per se. It’s just the die-cut sticker is of the brand logo, which is also printed on the label itself. This repetition of the brand logo appears to be an oversight. But the front-of-pack is valuable real estate, which could have been better utilised to convey another key message.


Saved

Insects have been touted as a potential solution to the increasing demand for protein and the environmental impact of traditional livestock farming, it is difficult to predict whether insects will be the future of food.


One of the main challenges is consumer acceptance. Many people in Western countries are hesitant to try insects as a food source due to cultural norms and aversion. Yet the creators of Saved have found a solution. They add cricket protein to our favourite everyday foods. Their first product, Lentil Puffs, comes in three tasty flavours – black pepper, Mediterranean herb and sour cream and onion. This product is meeting consumer demand by latching onto the ‘better for you’ trend, which has seen the likes of Tyrrells moving into the lentil crisps market. Yet better still consumers don’t need to change their eating habits in order to try an alternative protein.


Vegan products undoubtedly dominated the event. Many exhibitors focussed their whole marketing on this singular offer, giving them a lack of differentiation in a crowded market. With consumer demand for increased nutritional and health benefits in food, it was great to see gut health and fermented products taking centre stage. This trend reflects a growing awareness of the importance of a holistic approach to health and wellness, with a recognition that a healthy gut is a key component of overall health.


But what was it that made these brands stand out? Other than that they are all founded by females, these brands had a story to tell. They had a clear purpose and demonstrated a strong and confident presence at the event.


However, the majority of the exhibitors seemed to lack presence and conviction; unclear messaging, unengaged teams, lacking basic knowledge on their product.


I truly hope the brands featured in the StartUp Market don’t become a statistic, and I look forward to watching their journeys unfold.

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