This February, The Vurger secured £1.4M investment for expansion – and a month later, the pandemic hit the UK’s foodservice industry hard. Like many of their peers, The Vurger had to pivot, though still managing to open a new location. At the end of one very unusual business year, Co-founder Rachel Hugh tells us how and why.
“It has definitely not been the 2020 we expected, hoped, or worked for, but was always the year we planned to open our Brighton store and launch our retail products into the market so from that perspective we are positively on track! Despite opening Brighton in a pandemic, the store has actually posted extremely positive sales, seeing record numbers for the business.
We have always had the mission to make our brand and therefore access to vegan food, as fast, easy and as convenient as possible. Being a small business, we cannot compete on a level playing field with many large corporations, their amazing budget and distribution abilities whilst they open their sleepy eyes to the potential of this so-called ‘trend’. However we always knew to hang in there, keep persevering with the innovation and quality of our product, as our path to accessibility is deep rooted in our mission as a brand from day one.
Going through the process of growing our restaurants is one point of accessibility we wanted to build from the beginning. It takes more capital than your average product launch, more time in training teams and a serious load of patience, tenacity and perseverance as founders. However, growing this way has complimented our vision for retail in more ways than one. It has allowed us to test new flavour profiles and gain new product feedback in real time as we continue to build customer loyalty by listening to feedback and driving home the message that their opinion matters.
Throughout our journey, it became evident how important it was to build out a part of our business that allows our customers to take a little part of their restaurant experience home with them. Of course we understand that restaurants have been creating retail products for years, we certainly didn’t do this to be unique, first or any other buzzword some companies love to bring into their latest PR launch.
We did this to be true to our word, to create products made by our team that could reach that little bit further than our restaurant locality therefore adhering to our mission of accessibility to great tasting vegan products.
We realised through our process of research, development and taking our new sauce range to market that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You only have to scratch the surface to realise why the way our products have come to market has been our salvation.
Tried & tested
Our customers believe in our product owing to how long we have been perfecting our recipes and serving them in our restaurant environment. They have sat and tried our unique flavours in their burgers and dipped their fries into our free chilli mayo we have given out since day one – a strategic move to encourage accessibility. This has allowed us to reach out to not only those who we know already love our food and brand in our locality but also those across the whole of the UK.
Better for you
It was important to us throughout the development process that we compared and contrasted the nutritional information against the cheapest and most widely distributed vegan mayo in the UK. When we did that, our Original mayo contains 33% less sugar, 28% less salt, 15% less saturated fat per 100g direct comparison.
Taste and texture
We worked non stop on our Original Mayo to ensure it ticks all taste boxes. We bought every single vegan mayo in the market including a trip to New York (in January) to bring back a caseful of mayos not available here too. This is why we didn’t launch our sauce range with our original first as we knew it had to surpass the noise.
We’re all looking to feed a nation by removing animal products from the food chain, whilst remaining sustainable, healthy and accessibly priced. We simply can’t overlook the innovation that needs to take place in product lines that are right before our eyes.
Just like when we were convincing people in 2016 that vegan burgers were the future of fast food and vegetables can be the centre stage on your plate. Your sauce is not the supporting role anymore, it’s the whole main event.
If every single one of the 7 million people who used mayonnaise in the UK last year (Statista) switched to our Original Vegan Mayo, imagine the positive impact that could have on the world, sometimes it’s about doing the simple things really really well.
We’re excited for 2021 and the opportunities that lay before us in this category. We stand with everyone in the hospitality sector, and whilst it is gut-wrenching to watch the painful moves being taken that directly impact our industry, don’t forget to keep innovating, I for one am not going to stop.
Thank you to everyone who has shown us so much support for our sauce range so far! You can buy directly on our website, with The VeganKind Supermarket online or all Planet Organic stores and online too.