GET TO KNOW: Amy Weare and Jane Bisset from We Are Food
Meet two of our speakers on our session focusing on Food and craft drinks on the move, Amy Weare and Jane Bisset from We Are Food. We are Food is a family run business, based in Durban, South Africa. Started in 2013 out of demand for home cooked meals, We are Food makes up wholesome, tasty and affordable frozen dishes that can be enjoyed in your own home.
We had the opportunity to ask Amy and Jane a few questions on the food and beverage industry before FoodnNext. See what they have to say:
FNA: What do you believe has been the key change in the F&B sector over the past five years?
A&J:Supply and Demand
Changes in demand – customers are more educated and discerning than ever before. Not only do they want great quality that is well priced, but they’re looking for responsibly-sourced produce and “food with heart” where there’s a definite trend towards supporting smaller, local artisanal businesses rather than the big powerhouses and conventional market leaders.
Changes in supply – small, artisanal kitchens are popping up where we never thought they would before. Now, aspiring chefs don’t need to work for a big, corporate kitchen, but can begin to feed their passion from small home kitchens, food trucks or market stalls, and marketing their business using an iPhone and Instagram account. This means very little risk and capital expenditure to get a food business going which results in more competition in the industry and therefore driving constant innovation and growth – it’s an exciting time for us all.
FNA: Where do you see the three key challenges driving innovation in the industry over the next five years?
A&J: Increased cost of animal protein as well as a general shift in customer sentiment towards consumption of more responsibly-sourced foods with a lighter carbon footprint. Vegetarian and vegan meal options are going to become more and more in demand, and plant-based protein sources will need to be offered.
Focus on holistically “healthier” foods. Low fat is out, no sugar is in, food must be good for me, while also delicious and enjoyable, innovative and new, while still affordable, convenient, eco-friendly…. So the challenge is on for suppliers!
Logistics in terms of nationwide distribution is still a major challenge. South Africa is vast with the majority of our population living in rural areas and our distribution channels are still ineffective and expensive compared to our global counterparts. As a result, we will have to think outside the box when it comes to distribution which may result in more ‘click and collect’ opportunities, or small courier business’s specialising in various regions.
FNA: The F&B sector is undergoing huge change. What are the three tips you would give for success in the coming five years?
A&J: Don’t imitate- it’s great to gain inspiration from other companies you admire nationally, or globally but the key to success in all ‘xoxoxo’ industry is authenticity.
Don’t only ‘innovate’- of course, innovation is always great but this shouldn’t be the focus of a food business. People want sincere, wholesome food and this shouldn’t be compromised by price or quality.
Get a mentor (or get a few) – There is valuable insight to be learned from those who have been there before, and while the industry is ever evolving, don’t underestimate the advice of someone with years of experience.
Quality trumps– Ensure your quality systems are of the highest standard from the onset as this will ensure that not only you understand all of the intricacies of your business from the get-go, but as you expand and grow you will have some great systems in place.
Invest in your team – South Africa has a wealth of unexplored talent and in the food sector you will need a reliable and passionate team so invest in team training, skills development and personal upliftment. We have seen an unprecedented “return on investment” from taking this approach and now have a power-house team which is supporting us in our dream to grow our business.
FNA: Which type of people do you believe would gain the most from attending your session this year?
A&J: Entrepreneurs looking at entering the F&B sector in a cost-effective and relatively quick manner would find this panel discussion enlightening, as well as business owners already in the sector, who might gain insight into scaling a food business and addressing real-world problems which we’ve faced within our business. We also hope we can help encourage those in the business and spread a little positivity amongst our peers.