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Henna Garrison

Crowdfunding for Food: Creating Space for Successful Innovation

By | Food + Beverage Trends, Industry Insider, Uncategorized | No Comments

Something is changing in the food and beverage industry

It’s no secret that multinationals have dominated the industrial food system for years now, but the landscape is changing, and changing fast. In the past five years alone, the top 25 food and beverage companies have lost $18 billion in market share, giving way to young companies and quick growing startups. Campbell’s Soup CEO Denise Morrison estimates that over $8 billion in VC funding has gone to over 400 start-ups since 2010. At the same time, a report from US based Rosenheim Advisors shows that the UK was among the top drivers in investment and acquisition activity in the food and technology sector.

The Food + Drink Investment Landscape

Despite all indications that there is market demand for innovation in the food and drink world, it’s still not easy to get a great idea off the ground. That is why food entrepreneurs are heading to crowdfunding sites to get started. According to NESTA, in 2015 food and drink was among the top three most crowdfunded categories in the UK, taking up a fair share of the £245 million in financing through equity-based crowdfunding for seed, start-up and early-stage financing. Despite the overall growth, food and drink start-ups are still struggling to reach funding goals through crowdfunding. According to Kickstarter, one of the leading reward-based crowdfunding platforms in the US, 75% of food projects don’t reach their fundraising goals. There’s space for growth in the F&B crowdfooding sphere.

Says Mike Lee, former Innovation Manager for Accell Foods, “The future of food belongs to entrepreneurs…Crowdfooding is a platform that’s lowering barriers by making smart connections to the funding and expertise needed for ambitious F&B startups to succeed. The food system thrives when there’s a diversity of good, new ideas in the ecosystem and Crowdfooding is a way to ensure that diversity will flourish.”


Crowdfooding does it differently

Crowdfooding wants to make successful crowdfunding more streamlined, accessible and attractive for the bright minds behind food and beverage innovation. Crowdfooding offers a one-stop shop for food entrepreneurs to raise funds throughout the development of their ventures. As both a reward and equity-based crowdfunding platform, we aim to make it easy for companies to tap into a targeted network of supporters and investors specifically interested in advancing  food-related businesses, not just at the early stages. 

A flexible and focused platform, Crowdfooding is well aware that there are strong incentives in the UK for individual investors to invest in start-ups, but we have realised that food entrepreneurs need a lot more than just capital to grow their business. While money is great, knowledge is powerful. That’s why we make sure companies understand the dynamics of crowdfunding and come fully prepared before engaging. We support our companies throughout the development of their campaign and help them deploy plans to make crowdfunding successful by offering a bespoke service to prepare, build and roll-out their campaign. On top of this, before kicking off a campaign we require companies to run a “pre-campaign” whereby they gather interest from prospective backers to validate whether crowdfunding is a suitable option for them without risking the launch of an unprepared campaign. Like the investors attracted to our platform, we want to work with young companies to get them support, financial and know-how, to fully take advantage of crowdfunding.


But we don’t stop there. For each equity crowdfunding opportunity, Crowdfooding is enlisting an external Investment Committee specialised in venture capital financing, business analysis, technology, consumer packaged goods and nutrition. Through this, Crowdfooding aims to bridge the knowledge gap surrounding the food and drink investment process for both financiers and entrepreneurs.

We believe food is inherently community-based, gathering people around the table to enjoy the success of a bountiful harvest and well-prepared meal. Crowdfooding wants to take that community aspect from the table to the investment realm and open up a space that will help young F&B innovators thrive. This is our community, join us now on!

Chocothon: from bean to bar, creating a platform for sustainable chocolate supply

By | Industry Insider, Uncategorized | No Comments

There is an almost unparalleled satisfaction to popping a square of chocolate in your mouth and letting it dissolve slowly on the tongue. Or licking up the last of a chocolatey summer ice cream. Or savouring a dense, rich, and warm cup of hot chocolate in the winter months. But it could be that we are taking this magical elixir known as chocolate for granted. Hidden from the supermarket shelves where we purchase our everyday chocolate bars, there’s a problem plaguing the chocolate industry that could potentially lead to a shortage in cocoa, the principal ingredient in chocolate making.


According to a 2015 report by the Cocoa Barometer, a group keeping an eye on sustainability trends in the chocolate industry, the world is running out of cocoa farmers as the current generation is reaching their life expectancy and the next generation is not stepping up to take over a trade that is keeping farmers in poverty. In West Africa, where over  . These problems seemingly need to be addressed at every level of the chocolate value chain, from farmer to manufacturer to distributor and consumer, which means giving voice to the cocoa farmers of the world and working towards a sustainable supply chain is a priority in ensuring the future of chocolate.


That’s where Chocothon comes in. An initiative to creating a shared value platform for sustainable Ghanaian cocoa supply chains initiated by Google Food Team and the International Trade Centre (ITC) with knowledge support from Business School Lausanne (BSL) and the Future Food Institute (FFI). Chocothon is comprised of a series of events that will take place over nine months on site in Ghana and through global collaboration. Food and Tech Connect and Food Inspiration Magazine, leading communications the food and tech worlds, are on-board as media partners and corporate representation from Nestle and Barry Callebaut bring industry expertise to the event.


The decision to target Ghana stems from the fact that Ghana produces over 20% of the world’s cocoa, an estimated 897,000 in the year 2013/2014.  . Ghana has been deemed to have some of the best cocoa quality-wise at a global scale, yet in 2015 the average Ghanaian cocoa farmer earns around just $.84 per day. Cocoa farmers on are at the start of a long line of stakeholders in the chocolate supply chain and the West African farmer is likely to receive as little as just 3.5% to 6.4% of the final value of a chocolate bar, in contrast to a manufacturer share’s share around 70%.

Chocothon will launch its first event from January 16h to 20th and will bring together farmers, international cocoa sources, partner organisations and outside participants in an effort to empower and connect cocoa farmers, assure sustainable supply, and create new opportunities for them and other value chain stakeholders in cocoa production while reducing supply disruption risks. The first mission consists of a hackathon focused on creating innovative tech solutions for a sustainable, international cocoa supply chain; and running in parallel a training done by local beneficiaries to local farmers and companies on sustainable practices applied to the cocoa sector.

Because “true impact” is only achieved through consensus, compromise and cooperation, Chocothon will use measurable goals to Share Knowledge, Empower Producers and Connect Stakeholders. Share Knowledge works to organise crowdsourcing experiences, share technical expertise and build a community around cocoa-themed issues through a series of conferences, workshops and meetings to allow the exchange of ideas. Empower Producers means giving voice to cocoa farmers, building trust along the cocoa supply chain by helping highlight cocoa farmers suitable for sustainable cocoa production, and helping farmers to tackle the problems they face. Connect Stakeholders brings actors together to develop public online and offline tools that can engage and interest Ghanaian young people with technology expertise to develop business-ready tech prototypes and launch start-up.


At Crowdfooding we are proud to be the supporting platform for Chocothon. It’s a one of a kind project that brings together a unique of knowledge partners from inside and outside the cocoa industry to create concrete impact for an uncertain industry. We are excited to play a role in the project’s development and believe that with Chocothon we can help create breakthrough solutions for a sustainable cocoa future and farmer empowerment through the creation. Both individuals and organisations can help contribute to the Chocothon campaign. Individuals can lend their support through donations or whereas businesses and organisations have the opportunity to contribute either with in-kind or corporate sponsorship.

Says Crowdfooding founder and CEO Alessio D’Antino, “Chocolate is at the edge of extinction and we’re very thrilled to support Chocothon in the endeavour of helping cocoa farmers to leverage technology to better manage their harvesting and improve their quality of work. In line with the open spirit of Chocothon, I strongly believe this project can harness the power of the crowd to empower any individual to do their share to keep enjoying our beloved chocolate.” When such a sweet treat is at the peril of extinction, it’s a clear sign that our current food system is in need of a haul over. Chocothon provides an opportunity to put together a one of a kind platform that will revolutionise the cocoa supply chain, making sure that the global demand is met by a supply chain that is resilient and advantageous for all shareholders, from bean to bar.

KERB’s Petra Barran on the Street Food Revival

By | Food + Beverage Trends | No Comments

Street food. What images the term conjures up probably depends on where you’ve been and what you eat. New York City tourists might think of cheap hot dogs on 5th Ave whereas Copenhagen locals might reference the uber-organized Copenhagen Street Food stalls housed in an old paper warehouse. Backpackers in Asia maybe associate street food with bugs, bellyaches and late night crepe-throwing whilst on the other side of the southern hemisphere, in Peru, anticuchos (cubed beef heart on sticks), ceviche and guinea pig on sticks are all popular on the street food scene.

It’s difficult to have a collective vision for a type of food that is defined by the mere fact it is sold in a public space by a vendor or hawker and is ready for immediate consumption, especially since street food is constantly being reinvented and reinterpreted. And even though street food is often regarded as a trend, it’s certainly not new on the foodie scene. A brief history of street food just in the UK puts eating in the streets back to Roman times, as excavations within the Square Mile area consistently turned up oyster shells, a common snack for the common people of another time. The trend of eating on the go continued, from the oft-sung about Muffin Man of Georgian London to the hawking of pea soup and hot eels to the rapidly growing group of city workers during Victorian times. It’s hard to attribute trendiness to a concept that has survived over the ages.

So what about the UK street food vision of today? Well, . A passion for food has been a constant in her life ever since she discovered a Sainsbury’s cookbook at age ten that became her early years go-to for kitchen experimentation. But her first real taste of the street food scene was inspired by visits the US where the reign of modern street food started early and started fast. Petra began her own venture, gaining years of on-the-ground training with the launch of her mobile chocolate van in 2005. From there, she was so inspired by the passionate and interesting people she met along the way, that creating a street food collective seemed like the obvious next step.

Petra opens up to Crowdfooding about her ultimate goal to get good food onto the city streets by bringing together interesting people with passion. The latest KERB project, KERB Camden, launches on Friday, August 12th and brings together a street food affair with 35 vendors open and available 7 days a week, 364 days a year. The variety of cuisine isn’t the only thing to get excited about—KERB Camden Market is also testament to what collaboration can accomplish in revitalizing city street food scenes, which have come a long way from streetside oyster shucking.

Read on for some words of wisdom from London’s very own street food pioneer, Petra Barran.


Can you tell our readers about your career journey to date and how you got involved with street food in the first place?

I ran a choc-mobile, Choc Star, from 2005-2011 and drove it all over the country. Through doing festivals and markets I met loads of other great traders and realised that if we got together, got organised and pooled our talent then we could make something bigger happen than if we were all separate. was born in 2009, followed by KERB in 2012.

How did you settle on chocolate as your first street food offering?

Because I love it and I thought it would be a great tool for helping me travel Britain, have adventures and meet lots of good people.

What were the biggest challenges you faced as a mobile chocolatier?

Finding a pitch, weather, doing everything myself…the physicality of it…melting chocolate in the heat!

How has the British street food scene evolved since you first started Choc Star in 2005?

It’s another world. No longer is it a quirky lifestyle choice filled with itinerant adventurers. Now it is viewed as an alternative to starting a restaurant and a route to investment and financial gold. The scene is still populated with brilliant people but it has become more mainstream, more commercial, less ad-hoc—all important parts of the process in making it normal to find and eat great food on the streets…our original goal!


How did the idea for KERB come about?

The combination of being a trader and studying urbanism at University College London fused the intrigue of food and cities and how vital they are to one another in terms of engaging and independent spaces for people to be. KERB is all about the transformation of urban space through great food and good people, the creation and development of a brilliant trader community, and the advancement of food quality on the streets.

What projects is KERB currently working on?

Over the last few months we’ve been working on our four lunchtime markets (KX, Gherkin, Paddington and West India Quay), our corporate catering arm and incubating new traders via our inKERBator scheme . Last week we did KERB’s Reggae Roast at King’s Cross which was brilliant: Caribbean street food + Reggae Roast sound system + lots of rum and dancing.

We’ve also announced our newest and largest location to date : KERB Camden Market with 35 amazing traders which opens to the public Friday, August 12th, 7 days a week, 364 days a year. We’re really excited to get started and unleash the lineup on the world!

What are the most exciting innovations and culinary offerings on London’s street food scene right now?

Steak and chips, cooked in front of you for less than £10. That’s amazing! Blu Top’s ice cream sandwiches with incredible flavour combinations. Taiwanese fried chicken in a bag from Daja Chicken. Poke Hawaiian sushi is beautiful and healthy.



What is the best advice you can give food entrepreneurs looking to start their own street food business?

Have a really clear understanding of WHY you want to do it and keep that as your compass as you navigate the turgid waters!

Has the street food revolution democratised good honest food or moved it further from reach?

Stage one has been to make it more available and more viable as a career move. Stage two will be when we can bring together all kinds of people to enjoy it and operate in it. It will happen!

What are the trends we are going to see in street food over the next couple of years?

More collaboration. Just as KERB is a collaboration of talented food traders and its food-loving customers, as we evolve and seek progression and longevity, we all need to connect with other organisations to continue to make great things happen.