On each episode of the Food Matters Live Podcast we dive deeper into the unanswered questions shaping the food and drink landscape. Expect to hear from industry leaders, influencers and innovators on the ground driving the change each and every day.
Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter by tagging us @foodmatterslive or keep up to date with the podcast on https://www.foodmatterslive.com.
"Why I simply love working with food start-ups"
"Pick an area that's either a hobby of yours or something you invest in yourself day-to-day, be that time or money," says Nat Cooper, freelance start-up consultant. "That's what's always worked for me. Thinking about products I really like, reaching out and seeing what the opportunity is."
And it is an approach that has worked wonders for Nat.
Her career has seen her work with a number of different start-ups within the food and drink industry, and for the past few years she has been able to go it alone as a consultant.
She also does regular work as Head of OOH at the crisp-making company Simply Roasted.
But, as we often find on the Career Conversations podcast series, her career path looked like it would go in a very different direction when she first started out.
Find out more about the up-coming Food Matters Live careers event series
"I was really interested in the property sector and ended up doing real estate management at university," she says. "I ended up trying to explore a couple of other industries and stumbled across a position at a food and drink brand."
That brand was Vita Coco and Nat says she loved working there: "Like most entry level roles, you end up getting into anything and everything to do with the business."
One highlight saw her representing the company at London Fashion Week: "I could get into quite a lot of VIP areas. I felt very cool and important at the grand old age of 23!"
Despite enjoying her time at Vita Coco, she decided she needed a break from London life, wanted to learn to surf, and to do more yoga. So she booked a one-way flight to Morocco.
Nat still managed to find relevant work out there and after six months she returned to the UK having already lined up a new role at a start-up coffee company.
Listen to the full episode to find out how and why Nat moved from being employed to being a consultant, what the OOH stands for in her job title, and why she describes Simply Roasted as "more than just a client".
30% Discount at Simply Roasted
Nat and the team at Simply Roasted have very kindly given Food Matters Live podcast listeners a 30% discount on all products bought through their website.
Just visit the Simply Roasted site, fill up your basket, and enter the discount code below when prompted.
Discount Code: FML30%
Nat Cooper, Startup Consultant and Head of OOH, Simply Roasted
After 10 years of sales and marketing roles within fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and working for the likes of Vita Coco, Doisy & Dam, and Modern Standard Coffee, Nat is now Head of OOH for Simply Roasted crisps as well as mentoring founder-led businesses.
Nat is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable sales professional and offers valuable insight into the often-intimidating world of sales and account management.
Nat is a passionate foodie and conscious consumer, with a particular interest in start-ups and challenger brands.
Planet Organic CEO: 'Why we're more planet than organic'
The future of organic food has looked healthy in recent years, but how will the cost of living crisis impact the sector's growth?
George Dymond, Chief Executive Officer of the organic supermarket chain Planet Organic, has a remarkable CV; featuring senior jobs at Morrisons, Tesco and Holland & Barrett.
But as he has come on board at Planet Organic, there have been rapid expansion plans announced.
So how do you go about executing a large expansion in a period where customers’ food and fuel prices are going up, when your own food and fuel prices are going up, and after the past couple of years of economic turmoil?
It takes a fascinating combination of attributes to lead such change, especially in an organisation which has been a pioneer for organic food for a quarter of a century.
George previously held a senior position at the mobile phone company, the Carphone Warehouse.
Mobile phones sound like they are a-million miles away from organic food, but George thinks there is a link between his previous and current roles.
Listen to the full episode to find out why he thinks sales of organic produce are on the rise, why the company is looking to increase its store count from 13 to 50 by 2025, and how the chain plans to maintain its position as a market leader, as sustainability rises to the top of many competitors' agendas.
George Dymond, CEO, Planet Organic
George is a senior leader with more than 20 years’ experience in the retail industry in the UK, Australia and US.
He has a wealth of leadership, customer, product and buying knowledge which he has developed while working for retailers such as Coles, Carphone Warehouse and Holland & Barrett.
For the last few years, George has focused in on the health and wellness sectors and has been proudly running Planet Organic since December last year.
Biodiversity in soil - why it matters to us all
Just how important is biodiversity in soil, and are we doing enough to protect and promote it?
These are the big questions many working in the agricultural sector are asking on a near-daily basis.
In this episode of the Food Matters Live podcast, made in partnership with Anglo American, we delve into the crucial role biodiversity plays in soil health, and ask what role fertilizers have to play in protecting it.
We have made episodes in the past looking at how important biodiversity is within soil, and it can be incredibly complex stuff.
The British journalist, author and activist, George Monbiot has previously told this podcast soil is home to as diverse and abundant an ecosystem as a coral reef.
Protecting that biodiversity is as crucial now as it has ever been, but the question is: How can that be done, whilst also maintaining crop yields?
Biodiversity plays a big part in our lives. The UN defines it as the variety of life on Earth and the natural patterns it forms.
But why is it so important? Why does it need to be protected? And what impact can fertilizers have?
We know fertilizers play a crucial role in growing crops, particularly on a large scale, but how can the use of sustainable fertilizers support biodiversity?
Listen to the full episode to learn more about the 4Rs approach to sustainable fertilizer use, find out why simply adding lots of nutrients to soil is rarely the best approach to farming, and discover the farming practices that are setting the standards for the future.
POLY4 is the trademark name for polyhalite products from Anglo American. It is a naturally-occurring, low-chloride, multi-nutrient fertilizer certified for organic use.
It includes four of the six key macro nutrients that all plants need to grow: potassium, sulphur, magnesium and calcium, and a range of valuable micro nutrients.
It allows farmers to maximise their crop yield, increase quality and improve soil structure with one simple product.
Previous episodes featuring Anglo American
How do we stop the rapid erosion of essential soils?
Can regenerative agriculture fix our food system?
What can be done to ensure that agricultural practices are sustainable?
Paul A Young - the secret to becoming a fine chocolatier
"If you feel stuck in a rut or bored at work, it may simply be down to the fact you've stopped learning," says Paul A Young, one of the world's leading chocolatiers. "You shouldn't feel guilty about that."
Paul's career is fascinating, as much for the various twists and turns, as for the sheer level of achievement.
He says it all began as a child, helping his mother and grandmother with the baking on a Sunday: "I wasn't very academic at school," he says. "But I did excel at arts and home economics."
After initially getting into art college, he had a very late change of heart and ended up doing a BTEC in hotel and catering management at New College Durham.
Find out more about the up-coming Food Matters Live careers event series
In this episode of the Career Conversations podcast series, he reveals how he ended up working with Marco Pierre White, forming a lifelong friendship: "That's when my world changed."
Paul also reveals the one piece of advice from Marco that sticks with him to this day, and it was more to do with what he wore than what he cooked.
But just as he was on a career trajectory that most could only dream of, disaster struck.
He had managed to rise to the position of Head Pastry Chef at Marco's restaurant when things took a turn for the worse: "I was on the treadmill trying to be the best I could be. But I left because I got ill. I just couldn't keep up the pace anymore.
"I didn't know how to look after myself. I wasn't eating very well, that's no reflection on Marco and the team, that's my own responsibility."
Eventually Paul saw a doctor who told him he was seriously dehydrated and malnourished.
After a period of time out of the kitchen, Paul returned and started the next phase of his career, which has led to the launch of his own chocolate brand, seen him become an author, and cemented his place as one of the world's leading chocolatiers.
Listen to the full episode to find out how he ended up making regular television appearances, started creating his own award-winning chocolates, and published four books including his latest release "The Joy of Chocolate: Recipes and Stories from the Wonderful World of the Cacao Bean".
Paul A Young, Chocolatier
Paul A Young is a ground breaking and inspirational chocolatier who is at the forefront of the British chocolate scene.
Paul trained as a chef before moving into the world of chocolate; his passion for his craft and his cutting-edge creativity have won him numerous awards including Best Sea Salted Caramel in the World, two years’ running, which led to him being ranked amongst the world’s best chocolatiers.
Paul has his own chocolaterie located on Camden Passage, Islington and all of ‘Paul A Young Fine Chocolates’ can also be purchased via their online shop.
Paul has a reputation as an incredibly creative chocolatier, a flavour alchemist who often incorporates unusual flavours into his wonderful chocolates and develops flavour combinations that are original, experimental, sometimes daring, yet always perfectly balanced.
Paul’s first book ‘Adventures with Chocolate’ won the World’s Best Chocolate Book at the Gourmand Cookbook Awards in Paris, shortly after publication, and was included in the Independent’s Top 50 cookbooks.
He went onto write two further books including charity book Sensational Chocolate in 2016.
Paul’s latest book The Joy Of Chocolate was published in Autumn 2022 and is a love letter to chocolate including fascinating facts, stories and of course delicious recipes
Is it inevitable that we'll all remove animals from our diets?
There is no doubt that the alternative meat and dairy sector is growing, but it is likely that we as a species will ever completely remove animals from our diet?
There are huge existential reasons we should all remove meat and dairy from our diets, and thus the reliance on industrial farming and the damage that can do to the planet, not to mention the obvious; animal welfare.
A 2019 YouGov report, looking at the eating habits of people in Britain, showed only one per cent identified as being vegan and just three per cent as vegetarian.
So, it looks like a big mountain to climb and it could take some time.
But in this episode of the Food Matters Live podcast, we meet a man who not only thinks it will happen, he thinks it will happen relatively soon.
Klaus Mitchell is founder of the media platform Plant Based News, which produces podcasts, editorial, and plant-based lifestyle news all about making veganism and plant-based living part of the mainstream.
We delve into his personal story to find out what inspired him to form Plant Based News and why he believes it is only a matter of time before we move away from the current model of food production.
We also discuss the rise of Plant Based News and how shifting ideas around veganism and vegetarianism have helped the platform to grow.
Listen to the full episode to find out why he believes current economic concerns could accelerate the transition away from meat and dairy, what he sees as the main obstacles to change, and the parts of the world he believes are leading the way in overcoming those obstacles.
Klaus Mitchell, Founder, Plant Based News
Klaus Mitchell has always had a passion for health and nutrition, initially coming top of his year for Human Biosciences BSc from the University of Exeter, and then doing a masters in The Genetics of Human Disease MSc on a full scholarship at University College London.
Upon graduating in 2015, Klaus launched Plant Based News to raise awareness around the health and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet, which now boasts over 2.8 million followers on social media.
In 2021, Plant Based News raised over £1 million via investment platform SeedRS as a way of scaling up and expanding its reach.
Klaus has been an author of an article published in the journal of Public Health Nutrition, which explored the effect of diet on various health markers; was script editor on groundbreaking Netflix documentary Seaspiracy; and directs an annual documentary series on Plant Based News, showcasing the developments in the sustainability and alternative protein sector.
How the world of nutraceuticals is evolving
For the past few years, nutraceuticals have been a wild success story.
Whatever a customer has needed, there has been a team of researchers, product developers and marketeers bringing new solutions to aid gut health, sleep, mood, immunity, sports performance, and so on.
During the pandemic, when we all became more focused on our health, the sector continued to innovate.
So as we move into a time where the world is opening up, where we perhaps have a different perspective on our personal and collective health, which areas in nutraceuticals are seeing the most demand?
It is a question worth asking, because nutraceuticals are big business. And the people who can spot consumer trends and shifts in the market, will flourish.
Gauging the size of the market though, is difficult. There are so many different types of products that fall into the category, it is tricky to quantify exactly how big it is.
But it is clear that it is growing and it is growing across multiple sectors of society.
Covid-19 changed a lot of people's perspectives and behaviours, with people of all demographics looking at their long-term health.
The question is: Are those changes going to last and form a long-term trend?
Listen to the full episode to find out what a nutraceutical is, what is driving the latest trends in the sector, and what role regulation might play in how the market develops.
Mike Hughes, Head of Research and Insight, FMCG Gurus
Mike Hughes has over 13 years’ experience analysing consumer trends, attitudes and behaviours and currently heads up the research and insight division at FMCG Gurus.
Mike has a particular interest in highlighting how consumer attitudes and behaviours can often differ and what the true meaning of trends are for the industry.
Chris Newbold, Head of Nutrition Strategy, Biocare
Chris is an experienced nutritional therapist who worked in the NHS for 12 years before retraining in naturopathic nutrition.
Utilising his wide variety of healthcare experience, he ran a busy clinic in Birmingham, working with clients with a range of complex disorders.
He has worked in the Biocare nutrition team since 2006 and is now Head of Nutrition Strategy, developing the nutrition vision for the brand, including product development, the adaptive health model and its extensive practitioner education programme.
Great insights from the food industry
Great podcast, offering a wide breadth of insights into the food industry.
Making Data Sexy
Great episode on product data with brilliant panel. Loved Dan Sands- “it’s all about trust”! So true! Would like to see him become a regular guest.