Show Notes

Download episode MP3

Food, travel and making a positive difference in the world are personal interests of Simon Day, the founder and brand manager of Unearthed. Simon recounts stories from his childhood which had a huge influence on building the Unearthed brand.

In addition to bringing hundreds of ingredients and products from around the world to the UK market, Unearthed are making a huge impact through hundreds of thousands of tiny donations to Action Against Hunger. They’re an innovative brand doing amazing things and there’s so much to learn from in this episode.

In this episode you’ll learn

  • The Unearthed origin story
  • A fantastic resource to help you craft your own brand story
  • How to build a brand that people love without advertising
  • The importance of on-pack design and communication
  • How donating a tiny amount of every sale can add up to make a huge difference
  • How a new plant-based, bleeding steak is making waves in the vegan community

Notes and Links

Learn more about Unearthed on their website
Action Against Hunger
Winterbotham Darby – parent company of Unearthed
Vivera Vegan Steak
Oomi noodles – another brand of Simon’s

Resource of the Week

Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller

Episode Transcript

Guy: [00:00:01] You’re listening to good foodies. And this is Episode 26. Today we’re talking to Simon day from Unearthed about food discovery, brand storytelling, and how making small donations can make a huge impact over time. So, stay tuned.

Guy: [00:00:29] Hello and welcome to the show. My name is Guy Routledge from Sapling Digital and Eco & Beyond and I’m joined in the studio today as always by my co-host Kylie Ackers. Kylie, welcome to the show.

Kylie: [00:00:40] Hello hello!

Guy: [00:00:41] Hello indeed! We can talk about food today. Hardly surprising considering the general topic of this show. but tell me about Tapas. One of your favourite kinds of food isn’t it?

Kylie: [00:00:51] Oh I could talk for hours on tapas. Tapas is great. We go to San Sebastian quite often.

Guy: [00:00:56] San Sebastian, in Spain?

Kylie: [00:00:56] Sorry, in northern Spain. Yes not the other San Sebastian. They have a version of Tapas called Pintxos which I think is just the Basque pronunciation of Tapas or the Basque word for Tapas but.

Guy: [00:01:09] I think so, yeah.

Kylie: [00:01:10] I think it’s smaller. Also it’s like kind of…

Guy: [00:01:13] Almost like one mouthful.

Kylie: [00:01:14] Yeah exactly. And it’s a great way of discovering all the wonderful cuisine of northern Spain. But actually recently here in London we went and had Japanese Tapas.

Guy: [00:01:25] Oh my God it was so good.

Kylie: [00:01:27] Wasn’t it? And you got to try. We got to try some really amazing stuff that I probably would not have imagined went together.

Guy: [00:01:34] There was a bit of a tuna, like tuna sushi but with shaved truffle on the top of it. Oh my goodness it was incredible.

Kylie: [00:01:41] Yeah and there were some amazing Wagyu beef as well which also was very much to die for. So a lover lover of Tapas.

Guy: [00:01:50] Oh I thought you were talking to me for a minute.

Kylie: [00:01:52] That’s a different show.

Guy: [00:01:54] We love food. We love this kind of style of food as well. This kind of sharing lots of different things but also going off and discovering all sorts of different flavors and ingredients and textures and all sorts of stuff like that. And that’s why it’s perfect that we’re talking to Simon Day from Unearthed Foods today because that’s what their brand is all about. They’ve got some amazing line of products. We’ll hear a lot more about that from Simon himself and their mission is to go off around the world and discover all sorts of fantastic things and have built an amazing brand that is also doing a huge amount of good in the world. And we’ll get to all of that in due course. But when Simon and I first started talking, we started reminiscing a little bit and talking about his childhood and the family holidays that he used to go on. So let’s jump into that conversation right now.

The Interview

Simon: [00:02:43] When I was younger, I’m an only child and me and my parents used to go on holiday to Greece every year. My parents were big into archaeology so we were touring all over Mainland Greece. Basically all the places that people don’t go on holiday normally. We avoided all the beaches and we were up in the mountains often breaking into fenced off archaeological sites. And you know not an evangelistic way but kind of finding our way into these unmanned archaeological sites.

Guy: [00:03:15] Amazing.

Simon: [00:03:15] And so we, it took us to really unusual places I guess in Greece. Lots of little villages. And we would stay with people in guesthouses. We just kind of rock out to a village and ask if there was somewhere to stay. Often in the turnover. And the coffee shop and they take us to some little person’s house who would put us up for a few days. So that’s how we traveled around.

Guy: [00:03:43] I can imagine you almost turning up covered in dust you know with your trowel and your brush in hand having been on some archaeological discovery to someplace where they barely speak English and you’re just saying “have you got a room?”.

Simon: [00:03:54] Yeah yeah there was definitely we were trying out a reinvented Greek. There were no trails. You know, there is no illegal digging going on but it was more clambering over walls and my dad telling me stories about how maybe it used to be in that place. They were really interesting always pretty unusual for family holidays but what it meant was that we ended up in these little out of the way that is obviously just eating away. Everyone else was eating there. But often even more just. Even more than just eating. Actually. Taking part in things so my dad was always really fascinated by how stuff was made. We’d often go down, my dad and me, to get bread in the morning. From the bakery in the village. Greek bakeries a kind of a real center of the community and in these small villages people would also bring their food after the bread was done and cook their long slow cook lamb or whatever in the ovens after the bread had been taken out so they were real hives of activity. Literally my dad would kind of hang out there. And ask if he could take photos or ask if he could see what was going on. So I spent a lot of time in bakeries but also if we were passing and somebody were there were a group of people trading grapes we had. I remember one experience when I was in a back of my dad’s moped. And we saw a group of people trading grapes. We went over. My dad, as usual, got his camera, asked if he could take some photos and that started a conversation and we ended up trading the grapes with them. They took us back to their house afterwards, fed us. My mum was probably wondering where the hell we were but it was my also my first taste of alcohol I think because they had Cipora which like a local firewater. Which is I don’t know what percent proof it is but definitely more percent proof than probably eleven year old child should have a sip of.

Guy: [00:05:50] Well, it’s amazing.

Simon: [00:05:51] So all those kind of things you know it was always less about. I mean, we enjoyed the food but it was always more about how it was made, what the kind of culture was that went on around the food that was always, I think, my dad’s interest.

Guy: [00:06:08] And what a great way to discover food by actually experiencing it there with the very people who have this as part of their culture and I guess it’s something that we really don’t get as much of here in here in the UK or in perhaps other parts of the other parts of the world where food has become more of a, it’s almost become just something that you need for sustenance and fuel rather than something to be enjoyed. I mean as much as I love my food and I love learning about new ingredients and trying new recipes and cooking, sometimes it feels like there is so little time and so food becomes less of an experience and more of a formality which is, which is a real shame but it sounds like you’ve had those amazing experiences and then have tried to bring those feelings and those experiences and those stories into the work that you do now.

Simon: [00:07:02] Exactly. You know it was a lucky upbringing I guess not just through the travel. I also grew up in Somerset and friends that I had were farmers some friends or friends made cheese on their farm. So I was exposed I guess to some of that production of food and a bit more connected to how food was made and stuff. But. Yeah it was really like how do you translate that into a sterile supermarket setting. Where you really feel very little connection sometimes with the food that you’re eating or the people that made it. And that was really the birth of Unearthed where, you know, I joined a company which was already supplying own label products to supermarkets so we’re already working with supermarkets. And we were supplying you know some really nice food but there wasn’t the opportunity to tell their stories about how it’s made to who made it. They were often kind of more interesting regional variations of the food that we couldn’t get to shelf. You know it’s obviously difficult to get into Naval ranges. Sometimes there were small producers.

Guy: [00:08:13] Is that partly because of the price points and the requirements on that side of things?

Simon: [00:08:19] Can be, but I think even more so than that is, some of the auditing requirements and the factory requirements that can be really owner so there’ll be small family run companies that supply maybe they’ll even supply nationally in their own countries they just supply in a region but they produce some tremendous product that we think is really worth going to market. And there’s a stage process of kind of getting them ready to supply a label that can often take a long time and some of those companies are not going to be willing to go through. Or not capable of going through that. So there are some great products that are all perfectly safe that staff to do the due diligence but that we really want to bring to market. So there was this kind of pipeline of products that we’re a bit frustrated in a way that we couldn’t get to market and this pipeline of stories that we couldn’t tell. Unearthed was really a way of bringing those things onto the shelves.

Guy: [00:09:13] And so we can talk about some of the product range in a second because it’s a starting point small but it’s now really diverse but. So is this where the concept for the brand came from in terms of taking some of those ideas of travel and discovery and literally “unearthing” new things in different parts of the world and combining that with the, as you said, the frustration of not being able to show off some of these amazing things that you’ve had access to. Can you talk us through the brand a little bit?

Simon: [00:09:41] Yeah that was absolutely where it came from. So I mean you know our tagline is “discover a world of flavour” and that’s a representation really of this idea of travelling around that we were literally doing and also I had done it in my youth and bringing those flavours to people. It was also a sense I think that you know I’m personally I’m not a fan of a Michelin star restaurant. I feel incredibly uncomfortable in a Michelin star restaurant. Sometimes our producers will take us out to nice places and I’ll always feel pretty uncomfortable. I’m much happier in a neighborhood local restaurant and. You know a lot of the food that we do – olives, serrano ham. With these trees. So these products in the countries where they are produced. They are just totally standard food.

Guy: [00:10:33] Just everyday foods that you would eat around a table with the family or have a snack in a bar or something like that. And it’s that kind of comfort food, isn’t it?

Simon: [00:10:41] Yeah, everyone only you know it’s the bang as a mash of Spain or Italy or France or whatever. But often they’re perceived in this country as being quite elitist foods or, you know foods that only posh people eat, that kind of thing. So part of the idea was to break that down and just be like these are just everyday foods. I just try them if you might like them or you might not like them but. It’s not like. They’re not for people like you.

Guy: [00:11:09] And so it started with a range of olives I believe, and then has expanded from there. Can you talk us through some of the other bits and pieces of the Unearthed product range?

Simon: [00:11:18] Yeah we started with three Olive loans and Waitrose we added meats kind of relatively shortly after that. We’ve been through over the years a huge number of products. I mean one of the massive disadvantages of setting yourself up as a discovery brand, is that you have to keep up to that promise. And you got to keep bringing things out and you’ve got to keep running because anything that’s successful will become mainstream in the market pretty soon. After you know and you’ve got to come up with the next thing. And it’s, it’s hard to come up with the next thing that sells. It’s easy to come up with the next niche thing. But it’s hard to come up with the next sale. So we’ve launched a huge number of products, hundreds of products over the years and lots of those have been unsuccessful and some of them have been successful. But olives, we went onto meats. We launched omelet, Spanish omelet tortilla, which had been really really popular. Within meats, we’ve launched French meat, Italian meat, regional Italian meats like Tuscan meat, Calabrian meat from the south of Italy, spicy meat products. We’ve also done other things like tartare filets. I think I was inspired by someone skiing trip but in a Gilat in their kind of buckwheat pancake totally different. We’ve done top flambe which is like a pizza from Alsace from the German French border, a really great product actually. But like like a pizza better bit lighter with creme fresh lard on the top.

Guy: [00:12:56] Oh. Wow. So a real, a real range then. And because I think most of the things I’ve tried of yours have been like the snacky type things like olives and chorizo and the tortillas and stuff like that. But it’s, but it really has expanded beyond that and is it the case that you just keep adding to the range and the range keeps going growing, sorry? Or is it, that you add some new things and take some things away that aren’t performing so well?

Simon: [00:13:22] In the early days it was often a case of adding and growing. We reached a point where we really, we had quite a disparate range of products and their products you could all eat them together but they sat in different places in the store. So one of the things we posed to Waitrose was that you know let’s bring all this together because actually one of the ways that we can help make these products more accessible for people is just giving them permission to eat them all together like they would do when they’re on holiday. You know and when you when you had that Tapa selection when you’re on holiday or when you’re in a bar having little nibbles. So we did that and we launched a lot of new products we had, I remember one kind of crazy day where we launched almost 40 products on one day. Which is pretty unheard of in the grocery industry really.

Guy: [00:14:16] Wow. That’s just amazing. Forty 40 completely different products with different packaging and branding and all sorts of stuff.

Simon: [00:14:24] Yes. From about because we’re working with producers all around Europe. That was 40 products, I can’t remember the exact number of different production sites. I think it was probably about a dozen different production sites. You know and in some of them in different countries from each other. So, really a complicated complicated launch. So there was a lot of growth but then there’s also been a lot of churn. You know a lot of taking products out that don’t perform bringing new products in. Or. Products that become very standard in the market. Some of those products become our label products. And we move on to something else. So. Yeah an unusual amount of churn you know we’re not one of those brands that has three different famous flavors. That they can churn out forever. You know I’m kind of jealous of those brands sometimes.

Guy: [00:15:17] But I’m sure in many ways they’re jealous of you being able to constantly be trying and discovering and almost having an excuse to go in and test new things and bring new things to market because it’s you know very much part of the brand DNA is that discovery.

Simon: [00:15:31] It’s the fun of it definitely, is really it is really good. You know it’s really hard work and we, people are working on the technical side and getting these products to market, they have a really hard job and sometimes it’s very rapid turnaround and usually so. But. It is the fun. The fun of it. Yeah but it’s hard work

Guy: [00:15:51] Yeah, I can imagine. And I guess when you have such a wide range and a wide range of products from a wide range of places and a wide range of stories to tell about them. On one hand it’s kind of a marketer’s dream because you’ve got loads of different stories that you can be telling all the time. And on the other hand it must be very complicated because you’ve got to have some kind of clear and consistent message that resonates with a certain type of buyer but you’ve got lots of different ways of kind of spinning the same thing. Can you speak to some of that because marketing is your background, isn’t it?

Simon: [00:16:21] It is, yeah yeah. I mean I guess I’m not really a classical marketeer, I don’t have a marketing qualification those kind of things but my experiences in branding, pack on pack communication you know we don’t do advertising, big advertising campaigns or anything like that. But yeah there’s a thread that’s gone through it or I think it’s this idea of discovery and then the other thread that goes through is quality so. Whenever we talk to our consumers, they’ve got a quality expectation of Unearthed and that’s really the key thing is. If they’re going to buy something from Unearthed, they expect it to taste good. And that might give us a little bit more leeway to help persuade them to try something they haven’t tried before because they think “Okay I’ll give these guys the benefit of the doubt I’ve had, you know seven different products I’ve been happy with everything that I’ve had, so I’m going to give this new product a shot”. And we often get people contact us and say it’s the first time they’ve tried X and those emails we, or even the letters, that we love when somebody says you know. I tried this. I wasn’t sure about it but I gave you the benefit of the doubt. And I discovered I really liked it. That’s what we love.

Guy: [00:17:32] Absolutely. I just want to go back to something that you said which is that you don’t do a lot of advertising so with such a wide range of products, how are you getting the word? I’m sure that there’s lots of people listening who look up to what you guys have done. I mean it’s created like a 15, 20 million business or something and then they must be thinking well if they don’t do any advertising then then how are people finding out about the brand and you know how how are you reaching people?

Simon: [00:17:59] I guess it’s different for different brands in very different situations and sometimes I’m sure advertising is completely necessary. For us know we say in Waitrose and on Ocado. So. There’s obviously that group of people coming through our Waitrose door. So our job is to get people who are coming through the Waitrose door to pick up our product and you know different ways that we do that. One is on pack design. So when we first started really, we wanted to talk about the discovery and that story side of the products and our kind of key thing was that we didn’t want to look like own label. So the very first products that we launched, I almost sketched it out and gave it to some designers and it was probably quite based on my archaeological experiences when I was young. So the little olives were like characters and they were dressed in Greek, Ancient Greek outfit with like classical Greek columns in the background. And that kind of thing. And it was just different I guess to own people so pack designers. There’s. Been one thing that’s really helped us to stand up.

Guy: [00:19:07] And just if you look at your website which is discover unearthed dot com there’s lots of kind of very lighthearted illustrations like there’s a guy on a moped with a roll of ham on the back and there’s a cow wearing clogs and olive hanging around its neck. So I guess there’s a really nice light hearted slant to the brand as well.

Simon: [00:19:29] Yeah there is definitely. It’s kind of the fun of your travels really that represents so it started with these little olive characters. It’s got more sophisticated over the years but we’ve kept that character element of it because it’s also about what makes exciting for us, sourcing different food products is often meeting the people. Behind them and there’s some great characters in the food industry I think.

Guy: [00:19:50] Yeah completely agree. And another aspect to the brand which is kind of changing direction slightly is perhaps a much more serious side of things. You have done a lot of work over the years, over the last 10 years with a number of charities and particularly with Action Against Hunger because whilst we’re talking about the amazing stories of food and the incredible food and ingredients and products, I guess it’s a very harsh reality that for many people they they don’t have access to that kind of stuff and food is a real challenge for them. Can you talk a little bit about some of the, some of the doing good work that you guys do at Unearthed?

Simon: [00:20:25] Yeah so we donate one penny for every pack that we sell to Action Against Hunger and you know, on the one hand that’s a very small amount per pack, and on the other hand it’s a consistent amount and what we found over the years is you know that sided up for us to almost a you over over three quarters of a million Pounds of donation to Action Against Hunger in just in pennies. It’s a lot of pennies. It helps us keep track of how many packs we’ve sold.

Guy: [00:20:53] It’s incredible!

Simon: [00:20:55] It’s been very motivational for us I think, just that idea that you just keep seeing. Every every sale you make. You know it’s another penny in the pot. So it’s been a kind of extra level of motivation for us in some ways, but it’s also been great for the charity because it’s been a pretty consistent flow of money that’s come through from us and that helps them to plan. You know sometimes difficult when brands do one off campaigns and they might get that this year but they don’t get that next year, you know it makes the planning element of it harder for them. So all donations are good but I think they really appreciate the partnership that’s run for almost ten years now.

Guy: [00:21:33] And so is this something that you did right from the very beginning, was it when you launched the brand you were like, we also want to launch with this other aspect to the business as well.

Simon: [00:21:41] Not from the very very beginning. So to be honest, when we launched the brand we had no idea if it was going to work. I don’t think we were super ambitious for the brand. It was a sense that we wanted to get these products on the shelf and tell these stories. And see how it went. We didn’t have a master plan. The first three lines really flew. And then we thought. Okay, we’re onto something here. So, let’s take this a bit more seriously and think it out a bit more. So it was at that point that I started looking around for a charity to work with. Previously myself done some development work in India and spent six months in India and three months in West Africa on the teaching side. And so I had an interest in development and there was, I guess another personal interest that I wanted to bring into the brand. So, I talked to a number of charities just had a really good feeling about Action Against Hunger. They were super connected to the food industry, it felt like a really natural tie up that when you are buying food product that you are hopefully going to really enjoy. It was a good time to think. Just spare a thought for people that don’t have that opportunity to enjoy food. And it just feels like. And I think. You know our customers have told us the same. That just feels like a natural tie up to a small amount. When you’re eating that, that nice food. To somebody that doesn’t have that plenteous. It kind of works.

Guy: [00:23:06] And it’s a great kind of symbiotic relationship almost, as you say, you’re eating and enjoying some food and you’re giving something to somebody who perhaps doesn’t have that opportunity. So it seems to work really well. I always find it a bit odd when some brands they have a charity partner, it seems very unrelated to the work that they do or the product that they sell. But I mean sometimes you have to look below the surface to find that. But here it seems very straightforward and a really good match up.

Simon: [00:23:30] And I totally agree with that. I mean, I guess sometimes it comes from the personal interests of the founders, doesn’t it. You know, I have a kind of interest in education that I could have gone down that route. But it felt like it makes more sense for the people are actually eating the product and ultimately the people paying the penny to make a food tie up.

Guy: [00:23:47] And it fuel customers are people who really resonate with great food and amazing experiences then, it almost helps even more for the good cause to be related to something food because they will get it even more. Does that make sense?

Simon: [00:23:59] Yeah, no I definitely think that’s the case and often there are you know our customers tend to be probably more widely traveled than your average consumer. So you know they have an interest in these issues and they may have been to places where they’ve seen things firsthand that motivate them to support charities.

Guy: [00:24:18] In addition to the donations, do you do anything else with these guys? Do you actually go there and work with them or is it just you able to send over a nice constant stream of donations?

Simon: [00:24:28] The first time I ever heard about Action Against Hunger was when Sabrina Guyer, the now well-known chef who writes incredible cookbooks. I think she’d probably describe herself as a cook actually more than a chef. But she kind of bullied me into supplying some food for. It was a quite and easy bully to be fair, for a fundraising event connected to the Haiti earthquake. So there’s quite a number of years ago and so we supplied some food for that. That’s how I first heard of Action Against Hunger and then we talked about a kind of longer time. So over the years, we have supplied food to events at Actions Against Hunger run. Like an incredible charity for running a food event that raised money. I’d recommend anyone to go along to one of their events normally, you know in the same way that we’re about great food first. And it’s also fun that you get to donate something you know that’s an extra positive. They run some incredible events that are just brilliant to attend. And that for a good cause as well. So yeah, we support some events. I have been out to visit a project but we don’t really have the expertise that’s really relevant to supporting projects on the ground and there’s people that know a lot more about that than us. So we leave it to them.

Guy: [00:25:43] Yeah. Fair enough that makes sense. And there was a couple of projects that I was looking into. There was one in I believe Western Africa and one in India. Can you talk us through some of the details of how those work and some of the some of that impact that you’re having over there?

Simon: [00:25:56] Yes. So the project I visited was in Zambia in Southern Africa. We’ve worked in a few countries over the years. But there were two schemes go in there, one was an agricultural, one giving animals and athenry advice to communities to try and improve self-sufficiency in food and that kind of resilience. Food and the other was micro-loan scheme which was about generating income, in that case that was grandparents who were looking after their grandchildren because, really a whole generation in Zambia had been decimated by AIDS. And so a lot of these kids had lost their parents and had moved in with their grandparents. Grandparents didn’t have an income and they were unable to support the volume of children that they are having to look after. So, that was about generating income with grandparents. That was a really interesting trysting scheme. In India is really interesting where actually at are kind of trying new approaches and really their approach there is to prove that something works you know to test something if it works. Prove it works. Be really thorough about that and then present those case studies to local government and try an almost handover to local government to fund those projects and scale them up. I think actually that’s some very pragmatic charity about that the fact that some of this stuff charity shouldn’t be doing long term but charities do have a role sometimes in. Pushing the boundaries and trying new things and spreading best practice across different countries.

Guy: [00:27:30] That’s a common way of working perhaps in like in the tech industry where you’ve got an idea and you iterate on it and you test things and I guess you can do exactly the same kind of things in food and you guys have even been testament to that in terms of trialing new products and then dropping the ones that didn’t perform so well. But yeah to hear about a charity doing that I think is quite unique in a way.

Simon: [00:27:51] I think it’s really important and it’s you know it seems to be you know I’m not a development sector expert but it really seems to be spreading in that sector. And actually that’s where corporate donations can be extra extra valuable because it’s difficult if a government is funding a charitable enterprise. For that charity to take some risks with that money. You know it because they’re beholden to the government who are beholden to taxpayers and the negative press if they try something that you know isn’t super effective and great value for money is, that’s a real risk. So, I think it’s the role sometimes of companies to support projects where we say. you’re not taking a risk with people’s lives or anything like that but you’re trying something new that may be really effective, may not be effective but you learn from it. That’s something valuable to do and the NSM Foundation have been a great proponent of that approach. They are also involved in the project in India that we’re involved in. So that’s been beneficial.

Guy: [00:28:53] That’s brilliant. I think it’s great to see so many people kind of joining this movement which definitely does seem to be kind of gathering speed of momentum. People not just doing business for the sake of profit, but doing it for something bigger than themselves which I think is such a noble cause and something that we’re hugely behind here, of course. We talk to lots of people who do this kind of stuff. It’s great to find those people who look at business in the same kind of way. Very exciting.

Simon: [00:29:18] I still think it could be much better joint up than it is. I don’t know what you think. It sometimes feels like there’s lots of companies doing their own thing and actually, if we all collaborated a bit more, we could probably have even more effect. And I know people like actually Kasanga trying to help coordinate that. We work on projects with Carluccio who are a big funder of Action Against Hunger. And the NSM Foundation. So the you know there’s kind of tri-party funding for those projects. But the more and more that can happen and the more companies can come together on causes, bigger impacts you can have.

Guy: [00:29:54] Yeah absolutely. I mean the old saying is,, three heads are better than one or two heads are better than one, whatever it is and that goes even more so when you’re talking about bringing lots of expertise and potentially lots of resources and funds together. I mean it’s really is a great approach to creating a real positive impact which is fantastic. So changing direction slightly now, in addition to all the work that you do with Unearthed and all the fantastic charitable stuff that you do as well, you’re involved in a number of other brands because of the organization you work for is structured. So can you tell us first a little bit about the structure of things and then some of the other brands that you’re involved with as well?

Simon: [00:30:33] Yes so the company I work for is called Winter based on Derby, it’s one of those, I think, slightly unknown companies in the food industry that’s had probably a disproportionate impact in comparison to its lack of fame if you say Derby. For example, before I joined this is a business that first bought Spanish marquetry so chorizo for example to the UK to supermarket shelves you know chorizo is just a omnipresent product now in the UK.

Guy: [00:31:01] Absolutely, it’s one of my favorite foods and so I, I have a lot to thank you guys for.

Simon: [00:31:05] I’m glad to hear that Guy, keep buying the Chorizo. It’s on every, you know, every pub menu I think it’s just one of these products that totally chimes with the UK palate but we just didn’t have it before you know thing. I guess things like olive oil and pasta in a pot have have been these explosions that we just adopt as our own. So to me there was one introduction and then the other, the other innovation was olives in chilled, so if it were around the world you know, olives are sold in jars and tins and that’s still mainly the way you’ll see them when you go to Spain or wherever on holiday,but in the UK we’re big into chilled food and we were the first business to put olives in that chilled context really anywhere in the world and that’s now a spreading category and this look quite a sizeable category in the UK. So mixing it with fresh ingredients with, fresh herbs, and cheese and other products. And so you can really dial up some of the flavors.

Guy: [00:32:08] That’s really interesting. I had no idea that you guys were responsible for bringing those kind of things to, well what is effectively many many homes across the UK as well as further afield.

Simon: [00:32:19] Yeah I think it actually has a big impact on how people eat in the UK. That’s kind of the exciting thing when you work in food that you can, if you’re lucky enough to launch something that’s successful, you see eating habits change. You know we’ve been as, you know, a part, a small part, of changing eating habits from that kind of meat and two veg scenario to this much more flexible, sharing, eating, which is actually kind of more sociable as well. So, I think there’s some positive effects from that.

Guy: [00:32:50] And you just mentioned kind of changing eating habits and there are definitely things that change slowly over time. And there’s things that seem to change very quickly as well. One of which is the movement in the organism and plant based. And you were saying just before we got on the call that there are some big things happening for you guys in that area as well. Can you talk to us a little bit about your move over to plant based.

Simon: [00:33:13] Yeah of course. I think, am I right in saying, Guy, that you yourself is a part-time, Do you describe yourself as a part-time vegetarian?

Guy: [00:33:21] Yes, I do, and I get a lot of stick for it and from people that I know because it’s very very much part-time.

Simon: [00:33:29] Distance sundaes. I guess there are some people who are obviously very passionate about plant based have maybe if they’ve been vegan themselves for a long period of time you know we’re not in that situation on the whole. There are people who work in our business who are committed vegans. Obviously, whether or not I’ve been involved in launching of new meat lines. You know I love meat and there’s a lot of products I really enjoy. But at the same time I have in my head, which I’m sure a lot of people do, that feeling like I should be eating less meat. It feels like the right thing to do from an environmental point of view. There’s also the whole animal welfare issue which we’re really centrally involved in. The development of animal welfare, but the natural extension of that is to say don’t be animals at all. So there’s all these things going on in our head so you know we definitely wanted to get involved in plant based but we’re a real foodie business and we’re people that love food, and the angle that we took on it was that most of this stuff taste terrible.

Guy: [00:34:30] A lot of the plant-based foods you mean.

Simon: [00:34:32] Yeah I mean a lot of food that you could buy in a supermarket context. Obviously people cook fantastic stuff at home. There is some great restaurants and it’s really possible to eat brilliant tasting food that’s plant based. I myself lived in the south of India for six months. I didn’t eat meat for six months then. And you know I barely even noticed there’s just so many options. Such incredible tasting food, and because most people were vegetarian there, nutrition was. Kind of arts. I don’t have to think about their nutrition. It was just a balanced diet. So, we all know it’s possible to eat great tasting plant-based food. Our job is basically to make sure that there are great tasting options in supermarkets that are plant -based where you don’t feel like you’re compromising if you’re a meat-eater who thinks that you know maybe once or twice a week they just want to go for a day without eating meat, or if you have a family where one member is vegan and one member isn’t and you want to eat the same thing but you want it to taste great. You know that’s that’s the gap that we’re looking to plug really. We’ve started with Favaro Which is a range of, in the UK, vegan products, including a bleeding steak product which always gets the most attention.

Guy: [00:35:50] And it’s going to get some attention from me as well because I need you to talk me through how that works. So a plant-based steak that bleeds like meat, that’s what you’re saying?

Simon: [00:35:59] Exactly, yeah. So it’s beetroot is their, is the kind of bleeding element. Obviously there’s quite a lot of product development occasions. Just achieving something that has texture of meat and that bleeding element, even after you cook it. You know a really good good product and, you know when that launched, it’s amazing really, and plant-based how people will try your product, review it, talk about it. If they don’t like it, they’ll tell everyone. If they do like it, they’ll tell everyone. But I think it’s just such an exciting community, really. They’re ready for new things and if you can bring something great to market, then they’ll give it a go, and they’ll make their own judgment. And with that being state, you know we’ve got so much feedback from people who had given up meat, not because they didn’t like meat, but because they felt they shouldn’t eat meat for, you know, ethical reasons. And you know often the question with bleeding steak is, “why if you’re vegan why would you want to eat something that looks and taste like meat and bleach?” But loads of people love meat, but they’ve decided to give up meat for ethical reasons and for those people this is like a, a Godsend, you know, you literally see a wistful look come into people’s eyes. Like it takes them back to eating steak or things products that they liked but they’ve chosen not to eat anymore.

Guy: [00:37:14] It’s definitely something that I want to get my hands on and try because whilst I do describe myself as a part time vegetarian as we’ve mentioned already that is perhaps more or less part time. I’m not sure which is the good way to say it. The amount of meat that we eat, and the quality of the meat that we eat, is definitely something on our minds. And so this is definitely something I want to get my hands on. So where can we get it at the moment. The there is steak

Simon: [00:37:37] So that steak product is only in Tesco the rest of the five other range we’re also stocked. And Accardo, Waitrose, and Sainsbury’s, say different product ranges in the different retailers but at the state is in Tesco

Guy: [00:37:54] And so, the work that you’re doing in Plant-based is within this additional brand. It’s not that you’re taking the Unearthed brand and removing the meat and cheese aspect of it. Is that right?

Simon: [00:38:05] That’s correct a moment. So it’s in this brand Favero but we are looking at what we’re looking to launch our own plant-based brand. Different stock, different types of products. And we’re looking at working with other startups and other brands potentially in joint ventures or different arrangements to bring the great tasting plant-based product to market. And I wouldn’t rule out that in Unearthed, for example, we won’t experiment with some based lines probably adaptations of what we’re known for in Unearthed. So for example, in olive mixes, in terms of pesto and cheeses, there are different ways to adapt those products to make them vegan friendly.

Guy: [00:38:48] Lots of opportunities and I guess it brings you full circle back to where the brand started in it’s that new opportunity for the discovery and trying different things and reinventing some of these flavors and textures and formulations to create new things that people are now looking to discover or looking to plug a hole in there life which might have been created by making a new choice, either an environmental choice or an ethical choice or whatever it might be. So it’s a really exciting that it’s you know come full circle and it’s now I guess a new chapter in terms of ways you might be going in the future.

Simon: [00:39:24] Yeah, absolutely and it’s discovery for me as well. You know, this is quite a bit I think about Mediterranean food and that was where I’d be. You know my upbringing had been in, my job had been in. A lot of the plant-based side is exploration for me and I’m really enjoying learning about that.

Guy: [00:39:43] Fantastic stuff and and just to wrap things up because the time is absolutely flown by and we need to draw things to a close. We’ve covered so much ground and you’ve talked about so many different aspects of the Unearthed brand and all the other work that you guys do. And you’ve been around for many years as well. If you could perhaps distill that 10 years of experience into a key piece of advice for somebody who is starting out on their food journey, what would that be?

Simon: [00:40:09] I would say, if you’re going to launch a product, it’s got to be better than what’s out there. So it’s easy to get lost in branding and missions and those kind of things. You know, I always say, the products either got to be cheaper. It’s got to be better. Or it’s going to be different to what’s out there already. So try and take one of those boxes very strongly and if you can take all of them then, that’s fantastic.

Guy: [00:40:38] That’s brilliant. Thank you so much, Simon! It’s been an absolute pleasure chatting to you today. Is there anything that we missed that you think that we should go back and cover?

Simon: [00:40:46] Only one point you raised was about this idea of eating less meat, but make the meat that you eat better. So I think that’s a really interesting area as well as looking at plant-based. We’re also, you know, a lot of our work is in trying to help people eat better meat if they eat less meat. And that’s mainly around animal welfare for us. So we’ve spent 15 years working with retailers on their own label standards and putting the kind of hard yards and on going back to farms looking at farming practices. Working alongside organizations like compassion in World Farming and research organizations and universities like Bristol University to research better more humane ways of farming animals. And we’ve had a big effect on the market over the years especially, in meats. Especially in pork that’s being sourced from Europe but there’s definitely more for us to do in that respect and I think it’s still, there isn’t a lot of information in the market for people about what the relative welfare standards are of their products that they’re buying. There are some kind of widely understood labels like free range perhaps but going into more detail behind that kind of unpicking the complexity of what actually makes for good welfare on a farm. It’s difficult for consumers to have access to that information. So, that’s something we’re going to be working on hard in the future is giving people access to information, making it more transparent. More public so people can make informed decisions about meat that they buy.

Guy: [00:42:26] That was Simon Day from Unearthed and you can find out more about them and discover a world of flavour at foods unearthed dot co dot UK. Still to come today are lessons learned and our resource of the week which will help you work on your brand story and that’s coming up after this.

Lessons Learned

Guy: [00:42:45] Have you ever dreamed of picking up your own products off the supermarket shelf? Well the reality for most food startups is that only 15 percent of them find their way onto a retailer’s shelf within two years. We hate the big food brands are making millions of processed packaged products whilst ambitious innovative startups struggle. And that’s why we’ve produced a free video training series which will give you the blueprint to supercharging your food startup with your own online store. You’ll learn how to attract your ideal customers, take control of your sales, and cut out the middleman so you can build the food business of your dreams. It’s called “E-commerce Essentials” and you can learn more and get started today at Good Foodies dot co dot UK slash ecommerce.

Kylie: [00:43:38] What a great journey that these guys have been on. Or what did you say, 10 years?

Guy: [00:43:42] Something like that. Yeah I don’t remember the exact time that they were founded but yeah they’ve been around a while. And obviously done lots of great things and discovered many things.

Kylie: [00:43:51] Yeah and the thing I love the most and that resonates with me is the way that Unearthed is this discoverability kind of travelling and trying things from far off places. And it just means that their foods or each of their products has a story behind it and people just love stories. I mean I have so many travel stories that relate to food that you know it’s just one of those things that people can really get on board with.

Guy: [00:44:13] Absolutely and it’s why I wanted to start off the interview with talking to Simon about some of those stories and some of that kind of childhood memories because those are the kind of things that people resonate with. I mean it was funny when we started listening back to it, you were listening going “What is he talking about, why are we listening to stories of when he was growing up?”.

Kylie: [00:44:29] Particularly the scaling of fences you know diving into archaeological sites. Not something you expect.

Guy: [00:44:37] But all of that just makes for a great story and I think it’s really interesting to see how all the connect and how Simon has put so much of himself into the brand even though it’s not a personal brand.

Kylie: [00:44:48] No, it’s really good and I love what he was saying about him when they started with his. You know he’s scratch drawings of olives with arms and stuff. That really goes to show that a brand is really built by people. With their own interests and passions.

Guy: [00:45:03] Yeah. And as you say story is a big part of everything they do and it’s a big part of the way they kind of reach and communicate with customers. Interesting that they barely do any any advertising and not a huge amount of marketing but it’s all kind of letting the product speak for itself and letting the stories unpack and the illustrations and all that kind of stuff really do the lion’s share of the work.

Kylie: [00:45:22] What I found really interesting was that he said one product goes mainstream they pretty much discontinue it because it’s too mainstream then. For a discoverability brand and that’s really interesting.

Guy: [00:45:32] Yeah, I guess they really know their target customer and they really know the kind of person that they’re trying to reach and how they are always looking for new and interesting things and as you say, as soon as it becomes mainstream, they’re less interested, which is a really interesting angle on it.

Kylie: [00:45:47] And it makes sense then why they’re now looking at the plant-based options. It’s you know they’ve seen that trend coming in a new wave of customers that they can get on board with you know discovering better, healthier plant-based alternatives and that’s. That again just goes to show that he knows his market really well.

Guy: [00:46:05] Yeah absolutely. And what a great segway into talking about very different aspects of the Unearthed story which is kind of moving into plant-based but also with the other brands as well. And I haven’t yet got my hands on one of those steaks, I really need to try one of those

Kylie: [00:46:21] I’ll put it on top of our shopping list.

Guy: [00:46:22] Oh, please do. Yes! But yeah I mean there was something in there that he said about the plant-based stuff which was which kind of stood out to me which was. When you put something out into the market in that kind of vegan and plant-based space at the moment. That people are really hungry for that kind of thing it’s very much trending at the moment. If they love it, they will tell everyone and if they hate it, they will tell everyone.

Kylie: [00:46:44] The vegans are quite vocal with what they think about things. “Passionate”. That’s a better word. Yes very passionate. And there’s many Facebook groups that I’m in and I can tell you they definitely are not shy about letting their passion be known for good or bad products.

Guy: [00:47:01] And so this is a great lesson to pull out here is, if you’re looking for something to launch, if you’re looking for a new product idea, if you’re looking to kind of tweak and iterate on something that you already have, then putting something into the plant-based market is a really good move at the moment. And the great thing is you’ll find out really quickly if it’s something that people want and they’re going to rave about it or whether it’s something that people don’t want and they will definitely let you know very quickly.

Kylie: [00:47:28] Yeah and I love the fact that what one of the things that Simon said was that you don’t have to go for a whole brand that’s going to be vegan, right. So you don’t have to go all in. You could just take an existing product to feel as though he talked about some of the olives that they’re swapping out the cheese and trying to find other things that are vegan friendly. So that’s a really nice way if you, I guess want to hedge your bets and just kind of take a product that you already have that sells really well and make a you know a vegan friendly version of it and test the market that way.

Guy: [00:47:56] Yeah it just kind of trying small things here and there. And I think that’s a great approach rather than necessarily jumping all in to begin with. I mean it is interesting. Simon even mentioned when they started, they had very modest expectations. They weren’t expecting it to blow up and go crazy and they just kind of saw how it went and then adjusted accordingly.

Kylie: [00:48:15] So I want to talk about that doing good stuff because that’s one of my passions. And so that thing of just doing something small. I mean these guys are doing what they think is really small. You know one penny per sale. But the impact that that makes and the difference that that makes to Action Against Hunger and all the recipients of that aid is a massive way in the lives of those people.

Guy: [00:48:37] Yeah for sure. And it’s amazing to see how that one penny per sale can really add up over time to add up to over three quarters of a million. I mean that’s that’s a lot of olives and chorizo, right?

Kylie: [00:48:48] Yes. Much more than I can eat.

Guy: [00:48:49] But I think the important thing there is that you don’t have to do something massive, you don’t have to have ten grand to give away to a charity or to donate. You can just give away one small piece. And at the very beginning of your journey giving away one penny per sale is going to be very manageable as it is when you grow and scale as well. So if you start doing it earlier or sooner rather than later. Then it just becomes part of what you do and you don’t miss it

Kylie: [00:49:15] Yet. It’s like having something taken out of your paycheck before you get a paycheck you don’t even notice it’s gone. But if you get your paycheck and then have to give it back then it’s a little bit harder.

Guy: [00:49:24] Yeah absolutely. And it’s very similar to the way that we run the finances in our business. We kind of shift money aside so that we don’t even see it before it is it gets allocated different things and we do still have an episode in the pipeline to talk about all of that stuff and the money and the margin side of things. So definitely stay tuned for that one. Cool. I think that’s pretty much everything that we had for this lessons learned segment. Let’s wrap this up and move on to our resource of the week.

Resource of the Week

Guy: [00:49:55] Okay so our resource of the week this week is another book. Kylie, you’ve got me into reading. I don’t know what is going on.

Kylie: [00:50:01] No you listened to this one, you never read books.

Guy: [00:50:04] You just given away my secret. You’re absolutely right I’m terrible at reading. I find really, I’m really slow at Reading whereas with audio books I can plug them in and listen to them at like one and a half speed. So I do find them quite slow when they’re when people are narrating a book. But you know the book for our resource this week is fantastic it’s something that I listen to recently and it’s immediately implemented what is in the book because it was just pure gold. So the book is called Building a Story Brand written by Donald Miller and he runs an organization in the States called Story Brand. And they do lots of workshops to help you with your brand messaging and your and your marketing and their whole concept is around clarifying your message. And I thought it was a really nice mix to go with the interview with Simon today because stories and discovery and that brand is so strong with on Unearthed. So yeah building a story brand is our resource of the week.

Kylie: [00:50:58] So I haven’t actually listened to this book or read it, I’m much more of a paper…

Guy: [00:51:01] You should.

Kylie: [00:51:02] Yeah I know. Because I don’t like to listen to books as much when Guy orders one on Audible and I don’t have a paper version then I tend not to listen to it. But what was really interesting from the explanation that you gave me about was this idea that every story needs a villain and a hero. Much like movies do. And if you can look at your brand like that it really does make kind of making a story much much easier.

Guy: [00:51:28] Yeah I think many people have probably heard this idea of all you. Your brand has to have a story, you have to have your why, and your purpose, and all that kind of stuff. And sometimes you can hear that and be like yeah that’s great but then how do I do that. And this book is fantastic because it’s got like a seven part framework which it’s steps you through to create all of these pieces that make a good story. And I guess the biggest takeaway is that the brand story is not about the brand. It is but it isn’t the hero of the story is not you or your products the hero of the story should be your customer. And when putting it in that light you know I just kind of shifts the perspective and it’s a it’s a really interesting way to approach things.

Kylie: [00:52:11] Yeah. So if you think about having a vegan brand or a food waste brand the brand itself i.e. saving animals or saving food is not the hero it is the person who is buying that product. That is it does saving food and saving animals. And so you kind of switch your mentality a little bit to look at it from a customer’s perspective rather than what do we as a brand stand for.

Guy: [00:52:33] Yeah yeah it’s really interesting and it’s something that we’ve been working a lot on here at sampling to. Yeah to make it very clear about you know what we do who we do it for how we do it and to try and distill all of that complex stuff down into as few words as possible is something that we’re still working on. And if you head over to the website you will probably see the results of that very shortly.

Kylie: [00:52:54] So apparently you can get this book even says it on their website available now where books are sold.

Guy: [00:53:00] Yeah I love this. I mean the whole concept of the book is clarifying your message. And so instead of kind of listing off all the different places where you’re sold I love the fact that they can just say you can buy this where books are sold.

Kylie: [00:53:12] So we know you can definitely get it on Audible and on Amazon. So where books are sold. Just go there.

Guy: [00:53:16] Or you can go to and find out more about it. They’ve also got a blog and a podcast and you fancy a trip to the states you can go into one of their workshops as well. So I think that is pretty much it for today. Lots of great stuff lots of really valuable insights from Simon lots of interesting lessons and a great book to go and keep you keep you busy as well. So thanks so much for joining us today we really appreciate it as always. Of course you’ll find all of the links and notes and details of what we talked about if you want to recap or go and share it with somebody you can find all that over our Website which is So thanks for joining us today. We’ll see you next time. Cheers.

Kylie: [00:53:58] Bye for now.