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  • Writer's pictureMeyrick Consulting

Do Dragons Eat Porridge?

I didn’t expect my next article to emanate from the latest episode of The Dragon’s Den.

After all, I am not known for sitting in front of the TV on a Sunday evening planning my ‘To Do ‘list. However, my interest and imagination was piqued by the Great British Porridge Company’s ability to get five dragons huffing and puffing to be the first to invest in a tweak to what is basically a very traditional product: porridge.

Is it time to focus on taste and not just the bottom line?

As a recruiter in the food industry I like to keep abreast of what’s happening and what’s new. I never thought porridge would fit the brief but The Great British Porridge Co. had a distinct edge: they were less concerned about bottom line and had put a focus on taste. Perhaps this is probably the greatest challenge the food industry has to overcome. Will people ever want to pay the true cost of quality ingredients and have we sacrificed taste in many cases, for convenience?

Pay more, make better choices and eat less? Is this the future?

Bearing in mind most of us need to reduce the amount we eat, using quality as a mantra might mean we eat less and concentrate more on the types of food we are consuming. So higher prices might well make us reduce our consumption.

Having become used to ‘BOGOF’ deals, ‘three for two’ and bumper sized packets of everything this might be a hard call. However, with the spectre of a no deal Brexit looming we may well have to do just that. We don’t need reminding there is the threat of less choice and higher prices on the horizon. This is where TGBPC will probably come into its own.

Is it possible to please everyone?

However, the entrepreneurs behind the Great British Porridge Company seemed to tap into the very heart of the food industry’s conundrum: how do we remain true to our core beliefs of providing nutritionally balanced food that is also suitable for a number of intolerances and specific food eating groups? These groups might typically include: gluten free, dairy free, vegan and low refined sugars.

The GBPC guys have managed:

  • Gluten free

  • Vegan

  • No added Sugar

  • Over 10% protein

  • High in Fibre

  • Dairy Free

This probably makes them the trendiest porridge producers out there. May I say that it possibly helps that they are based in Brighton! Reading their About Us section on the website it was short and sweet just like their add water instant porridge:

Loving a challenge we decided to create an instant porridge that was not only ridiculously nutritious but tastes amazing too. Lots of bowlfuls of porridge and sack loads of British Oats later The Great British Porridge Co was born. Made with 100% natural ingredients, our porridge is now available in some wonderfully exciting flavours. Pimped up & full of attitude we know you’ll love it [as much as we do]?’

Pleasing trendy customers is not easy for any brand or manufacturer.

Consumers are demanding everything at a price sensitive point. They want a brand story, they want to understand the provenance; they are looking for natural and relatively healthy. The latest on the wish list is less reliance on over processed food. Talking to a vegetarian friend she said that Quorn was off the menu as it was over processed; whatever next?

That final point is interesting and valid. Spending time in Portugal some years back the VAT equivalent system was oddly prescient. At that time IVA was graded: 5% for natural foods like fruit, vegetables, eggs, milk and cheese, 12 percent for processed foods such as ham, pies etc. and then 21% for products such as crisps, biscuits, convenience food, ice cream etc. I always thought that a 5% diet would save money and be pretty healthy. Perhaps we might think about that compared to a “fat tax”.

Therefore bearing in mind the GBPC is bucking the trend a little it was fascinating to see how the dragons interrogated the company to the point the audience might have thought their chances of investment were almost zero. However, TV loves to create jeopardy, so it was a great spectacle when the company came back saying they were not prepared to give up to 33.3% of their company away leaving the dragons quickly scrabbling around to reframe a new pitch. They were obviously impressed.

I guess what I learned from watching this is that done well, there is room for a tweak or two on traditional foods. Maybe it is also time to reassess products we take for granted and refashion them for new generations that demand so much more.

So, if you had the chance to tweak a favourite what would it be and how would you do it? By the way, no calorie confectionery and the ability to eat absolutely anything without compromising health or putting on weight is not on the menu! Over to you.

If you are looking to recruit new staff for your food business then I can help. For a no obligation discussion please call me directly on + 44 7793 526078 or click here to schedule an appointment directly at a time to suit you.

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