Still, overall market growth has stalled. Inflation hit 9.1% in May, causing costs to surge. Nutritional items are certainly a luxury, not a necessity – Grenade’s own protein-packed recipes mean its products can cost as much as £3.
How does Barratt think specialist food startups should approach launching in the current climate?
“I think people have to be a lot more inventive,” Barratt says, “the food brands that are growing now are the ones that are doing something slightly different.
“[When we started Grenade] there were so many products out there in the sports nutrition space that were very generic and had scientific names like Xenadrine. As soon as you stepped outside of the health store, you couldn’t remember what they were called.”
To ensure their name stood out, the partners tried another tactic. Recalling a comment made during their product trials that the business would “go off like a grenade” the Barratts spoke to a tool maker in Birmingham to ask for a grenade-shaped product container.
That decision has shaped the company’s entire marketing strategy. Today, the Grenade logo has become instantly recognisable amongst UK supermarket confectionary aisles.
The hand that feeds the startup
Of course, getting your brand noticed has become a difficult challenge given the overcrowded market that is wellness. Wholesale and retail trade is the third-biggest sector in the UK and is estimated to be worth over £1 trillion globally.
Barratt recommends tapping into some of the UK’s entrepreneurial networks for help.
“[Grenade was] on the Sunday Times fast track for six years and the people we met through those events were invaluable,” she divulges.
“There are just so many businesses on the FEBE list that have grown so much in a couple of years, which is a testament to how strong we are as an entrepreneurial country.”
Food for thought
Today’s business climate might feel thin on opportunities but, as the FEBE 100 shows, there are still plenty of success stories emerging in the UK – proof that there will always be consumer demand if an idea is strong enough.
Barratt sold the Grenade business in 2019, to American snack giant, Mondelez for £200m. But she remains committed to helping businesses to attract and retain customers through the current turmoil.
“We think outside the box in the UK,” Barratt observes. “We try to make the best of bad situations.
“We got through Brexit, people got through COVID-19. Businesses in the UK will find it tough, but they will get through it.”
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