It is 10 years this month since we started Diet Chef with £100 of equity investment and some contacts in the food industry.
We have done quite a lot over the last 10 years and also spoken to a large number of other food tech businesses.
The history of why two guys from the technology industry got into food is a very interesting one (worth chatting over a beer about) but the seismic shift of the UK grocery retail landscape was pretty obvious to us 10 years ago.
UK shopping habits in grocery have changed dramatically in that period. We have moved away from “multiple” large box retailers (Tesco and Sainsbury’s) into buying from discounters (Aldi & Lidl) and convenience stores (Sainsbury’s local & Tesco Metro).
This is partly driven by convenience – a large number of smaller stores have popped up in every town in the UK. We therefore don’t tend to do a “weekly shop” (if we do it tends to come by Tesco.com) and pick some items up locally and more often.
Diet Chef was born pretty much out of this phenomenon – it just happened in diet earlier. We used to buy specialist diet products in store, but multiple retailers couldn’t stock over 100 items in 300-400 stores they could stock 5-10 perhaps.
Consumers have therefore used online to fill this gap, and in speciality grocery it’s a great place to do it.
There are lots of great successes over the last 10 years in FMCG direct to consumer but they all tend to be in own brand speciality grocery – definitely where we are focusing.