The Little Smoked Food Company: From kitchen table to disruptive new heights

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Name: The Little Smoked Food Company
Industry/sector: Food
Date founded: 2012
Founder: Julie Waddell
Location: Devon

Julie Waddell had done a number of various jobs before taking on the entrepreneur mantle – mainly marketing at British Airways, running a university department, reading the news on BBC radio and its ‘The Food Programme’. It is the latter of which had the most impact on her current business.

As a passionate foodie, Waddell explained that she “was looking to make healthy food taste amazing for [her] young family and decided to smoke chickpeas and use them to make smoked hummus.”

Her role in the BBC had also prompted her to research hummus.

Prompted by her family, she took her product to a local deli that offered to host a blind tasting session.

“People tried it and loved it, so I decided to launch a business,” she said. “Because smoked hummus had not been made before, we already had a place in the market. It was just about finding the right smokehouse and the right manufacturer.”

It just comes to show that making a business isn’t all about creating a new product. In this case, putting a twist on a classic drove them to success.

“We knew people loved hummus and smoked food so putting those together was a relatively safe bet.

“But I realised that to make this a viable business that could support my family, I’d need high volume orders. I contacted Waitrose and secured an immediate listing for autumn 2012 which led me to work with a factory to make the products professionally.”

The company’s hummus products are now sold in 50 stores, are stocked on Waitrose shelves and cane be found on the British Airways in-flight menu. They’ve also made their way onto Fortnum & Mason and Ocado. Needless to say, turnover is increasing 70 per cent a year.

According to Waddell, local sales was key to her success: “Getting a track record of repeat sales in my local delis was vital in showing that there was demand for Moorish. I have learned that this is called rate of sale and is what buyers in bigger retailers will want to know. I have also learnt that getting the best shelf life possible also helps. Both rate of sale and good shelf life reduce wastage and that is what buyers are looking for in a fresh product.”

She added: “We have big plans for next year; we’re in talks with other major retailers where we hope to start selling our products in the spring, we are also launching Moorish in a new snack-pack format with breadsticks (this is an exclusive by the way!) and these will be appearing on all British Airways flights from the Spring.

Their board also now features former Tesco fresh produce director Peter Durose.

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