Where did the idea for PEP Kitchen come from?
Joe: We wanted to show people that plant-based food can be sexy, delicious and certainly not boring. We also wanted to build a business that was scalable and at the same time could be sustainable for the environment. We decided to achieve this by creating a frozen ‘direct to consumer’ product so we could reach a lot of people very quickly.
Why do you think veganism is so important from a sustainability perspective?
Ben: I think it is fair to say that the food system is broken and we simply can’t continue to consume the same volume of animal products that we currently do. A more plant based diet offers a solution: it helps reduce CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, saves water and returns land that is currently being used to grow crops to feed animals back into nature.
I feel I also have to add that trying to convince everybody to turn into strict vegans is not going to be the answer either. For us, it’s about sympathetically re-educating ourselves to consume less animal products on a mass scale and this in itself will make a big difference and is totally attainable! By making vegan food truly delicious and more accessible, this is where we can make big changes.
What makes you different from your competitors?
Joe: The individuals behind the wheel! Both myself and co-founder Ben are trained chefs who spent years in London restaurants and then worked in the vibrant street food scene. I think our deep knowledge of cooking and flavour combinations has helped us develop a range of vegan dishes that everybody, including die-hard meat eaters can enjoy.
We are also expanding our range of sharing dishes and DIY kits. These include DIY roti flatbreads and ‘bake at home’ vegan cookies!
What have you been working on at the moment and what are some of the lessons you’ve learnt over the past few months?
Joe: Lots of NPD and planning for next year. It will be our first ‘Veganuary’ coming up in January 2021 and we want to make sure we are geared up to manage the increase in demand for vegan food.
With so many lessons learnt over the last few months, it’s hard to know where to start! We have really learnt the importance of taking a step back making the time to remind ourselves of the bigger picture.
Where do you see PEP Kitchen in 5 years time?
Ben: I’d like to see us with a big team of happy people, cooking and selling amazing food on a much bigger scale to where we are at now. Same ethos – just bigger. Expanding into retail is definitely on the cards for us.
Also, our meals at the moment are very premium – this is down to the quality of ingredients we use and the small production runs that we do. So with an increase volume in the future and bringing costs down, I would love to be able to develop a cheaper range of meals so we can really make plant-based convenience affordable for everybody in the UK.
This article has been posted as part of the Sustainable Start-up Series run by WeWhoDo: building a community of world-leading experts to help sustainable businesses thrive. For more information about Pep Kitchen, check out their site here: https://www.pepkitchen.co.uk/