How We Started The UK’s
Leading Frozen Vegan Pizza Company
Hi! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hey there, I’m Joe, one of the founders and Directors of One Planet Pizza. Back in 2016, I started the UK’s first (ever) frozen vegan pizza company with my Dad, Mike. We’re now the UK’s leading frozen vegan pizza company, with a range of multi-award-winning pizzas that are sold nationwide and through mainland Europe.
What is your personal story and how did you come up with the idea?
I was only ten years old when I made the connection between animal exploitation and the food on our plates. That’s when I went vegetarian. My Dad had been vegan all my life and since he was at university, mostly for health reasons as he was always athletic.
Flash forward 14 years and the world has changed a lot. Climate change is now the single biggest threat to humanity and the survival of our planet. The impact of eating meat and dairy on our ecosystem is now widely understood and accepted.
I decided to go vegan when I was 24 for my own health, for the Planet and out of deep love and respect for animals. It just so happened that around this time veganism was going through the roof and becoming a mainstream movement.
My Dad and I soon realised that there was one huge gap in the fast-growing world of vegan food; Pizza. Not just pizza but premium, handcrafted artisanal pizzas just like the ones we made every Saturday as kids with my sisters.
We had a lightbulb moment! Together with one of Mike’s good friend, Tanya, we decided to launch a plant-based and sustainable frozen pizza company to disrupt this otherwise traditional sector.
What challenges did you face when creating your product/service?
One of our first challenges was to find the right ingredients. We knew that we had to source locally where possible to reduce our carbon footprint but also make sure these ingredients were as flavoursome and fresh as possible. We soon teamed up with Easters, a well renowned local fruit and veg supplier who use local produce from Norfolk farms. They now deliver to us early morning as part of their local delivery route meaning we keep it within Norfolk but our fruit and veg are as fresh as can be. Perfect!
Every good pizza dough needs a good oil though. So next on our list was to find a high-quality oil as nearby as possible. As soon as we contacted Crush Oil, we knew we were on to a winner. Crush is based in Salle, Norfolk and produces their very own rapeseed oil harvested from Norfolk rapeseed. Furthermore, their oil is cold-pressed and extra virgin, meaning that it’s as nutritionally dense as possible – making our pizzas a source of Omega 3. Double win! You can also find their local proudly stamped on to each of our pizza boxes to help support other Norfolk based companies.
Our second challenge was the packaging. This was a big one for us as frozen food needs to be well packaged so that it’s food safe and doesn’t get damaged. Most frozen pizza companies use the cheapest packaging possible to save money – which we can understand. But this isn’t how we set out to do business.
We approached Anglia Print. They are one of the UK’s most eco-friendly packaging companies that boast a huge array of sustainability awards as well being ‘Carbon positive certified.’ This means that each of the sleeves that go round our pizzas boxes are made from recycled materials, are fully recyclable and are certified carbon positive. Additionally, because they’re also based in Norfolk and don’t have to leave the County to deliver to us, we’re able to keep our carbon footprint as low as possible.
One of our biggest environmental achievements has to be our pizza boxes. We searched high and low to find the most sustainable pizza box in the Country. Saxon Packaging produces our biodegradable pizza boxes that can be home composted. As far as we know, this is a first in the industry and it’s something we’re incredibly proud of. But if people cannot compost their pizzas boxes, they can also be recycled and are of course made using part recycled materials.
Who is your target market?
Our target market ranges from the flexitarians to the fully-fledged 100% vegans. Anyone who wants to eat delicious pizza that’s better for their health, the Planet and saves animals at the same time!
Most of our audience are currently plant-based and health conscious but also anyone with an interest in sustainability.
How do you market your business and which approaches have been the most successful?
As a small business, we focus on word of mouth and reputation to help us grow. We spend very little on paid advertising and are only recently starting to budget for digital marketing to help drive customers directly to our website.
Our main marketing tool is Instagram which has grown rapidly in the past 12 months. We focus on our community and aim to always champion the customer and their stories.
We work with lots of influencers and ambassadors to help create engaging and genuine content that in turn helps us build long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with these creatives.
Since you launched, what has worked in not only attracting but retaining customers?
A little bit of everything, I like to think! For us, flavour is always number one. We are constantly improving and developing our pizzas and the ingredients we use. We receive excellent feedback and this is always our main focus – to keep the customer happy and well-fed!
Mike and I are always present on social media, telling our story, championing the brand and vegan diets in general. This authenticity helps us to retain customers and loyal followers who share our goals and dreams.
What kind of culture exists in your company, and how did you establish it?
We recently teamed up with a research company that calculate the carbon footprint of food products based on their ingredients, suppliers and production methods. We were thrilled to discover that our pizzas have been calculated as having a 20% lower carbon footprint of the typical meat and dairy pizza in the UK.
At One Planet Pizza, we believe that the food choices we make are among the most significant environmental decisions we face daily. That’s why our products will always be 100% plant-based and we’ll always strive to reduce our carbon footprint where possible.
Everyone on our team shares our passion for good food and for saving the Planet, one slice at a time!
What software, services or tools do you use within your business?
We use Xero as our online accountancy software. It gives us really fast reporting in real-time and is accessible 24/7. The main way we have integrated our CRM into other tools is through our e-commerce website. For this, we use a WordPress front end, linked with a Woo-commerce shop and back end.
Our newly launched D2C service – OPP Direct – is now a valuable part of our offering. Orders that come through our website shop now link into our D2C couriers plug-in, synchronising with our courier’s software, instantly producing a delivery label and letting them know what needs to be picked up and when.
In terms of our customer journey, and the way we communicate with them throughout this journey, we mainly use Jilt. Jilt links into Woo-commerce and sends out automated emails at key points of the user experience.
At the moment, we have 6 automated emails which are triggered at different stages, but we plan to build on this in the near future.
What are the most important lessons have you learned on your business journey?
We’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way but I wouldn’t change it for anything! There’s no better than to learn and grow from personal mistakes and to face them head-on.
We started this company with very little experience in the food sector. Personally, I had no experience in the world of business.
The one thing that has already stood out for me is that to understand business, you have to understand people. Your staff are your most important asset! Your customers will decide if you make it or not, and your friends and family will keep driving you forwards no matter what you come up against. If you can’t empathise or deal effectively with others, you won’t get far!
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
I love being in the driver’s seat. Knowing that what I put into this business, will shape and determine what I will get out of it in the future. I’ve had plenty of other jobs in life, but nothing compares to being your own boss! Making your own decisions every step of the way is amazing!
I am lucky enough to be able to do something that I believe in every day, and try to help make this world a better place in my own way.
What is your LEAST favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
The biggest struggle for me is maintaining the balance between work and unwinding. It’s too easy to get home after being at our kitchen and office all day, wanting to check social media or emails that might have snuck in. This is amplified by the fact I actually enjoy the work, which makes the juggling act ever more tricky.
It’s a good problem to have and something that the people closest to you can help you with – you’ve just got to listen to them!
What books, podcasts or other resources have inspired and influenced your business journey?
I listen to a lot of Tony Robbins. He’s got a huge wealth of content out there and always focuses on positive mental attitude!
Mike and I are also huge fans of Wim Hoff who famously advocates using the power of the cold and deep breathing to unlock the potential of your body and mind. We both have cold showers every morning and find this is a quick and effective way to sharpen the mind. It rids ourselves of mental baggage before we go to work.
Where do you see your business 2-3 years from now?
We plan to double in size physically and in revenue over the next 6-12 months. We are soon going to announce our next round of crowdfunding – our biggest yet – to expand our current production site and build our team. We’ve proven the demand is there for our pizzas. Now is our time to grow fast and keep momentum up.
We have our eyes on expanding into Europe and America which are much bigger markets for us and will bring huge opportunities with them.
The frozen food market itself is growing worldwide. Demand for plant-based food is also increasing, so we are extremely confident about what the next few years will look like for us. We just need to stay true to our values and always put our customers first and foremost!