A recipe for success in tackling childhood obesity?

In March 2020, together with Impact on Urban Health (part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity), we launched the Good Food Fund, a pilot £1.8 million investment fund to help create and scale healthier mass-market products. The fund aims to solve the problem of families in low-income areas with more unhealthy food options on their doorstep, and less money to find healthy alternatives.

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Written by

Hayley Hand, Investment Director

We know that childhood obesity is an issue of inequality, three in ten children in the most deprived areas of England are obese. The pandemic has heightened health inequalities and highlights the urgent need to invest in the health of our nation. We see significant opportunities, to date unexplored, to use investment to create positive impact in the UK.

The Good Food Fund brings an innovative approach to tackle childhood obesity, which is founded in research and backed by a range of partners who will put their critical expertise and resources towards solving this challenging social issue.

With seven healthier snack brands selected for an accelerator programme, and having recently made our first two investments, we’re excited to share the key components of the fund and its progress so far.

Building better challenger brands

Mission Ventures is managing the accelerator linked with the fund, providing the entrepreneurs and new brands with strategic guidance.

The first of the seven healthier snack brands chosen to join the accelerator, Jim Jams, has now raised investment from the fund. Jim Jams makes chocolate spreads with 83% less sugar than the leading brand and has won awards for their great taste.

The accelerator provided Jim Jams with support on its sales strategy and range development to successfully include new listings with existing retailers, as well as develop new distribution with the major supermarkets. Alongside this support, the Behavioural Insights Team helped Jim Jams better understand its health credentials and where there was scope to make the product even healthier.

“Healthier challenger brands like Jim Jams have a great opportunity to disrupt the market leaders and we are delighted to be working with Kevin, the CEO, to help him broaden both the reach of his range as well as its accessibility for families on low budgets. He has already secured new listings for 2021 that will see a substantial uplift to his business and we look forward to doing further work in support of this initiative.” Paddy Willis, CEO, Co-Founder, Mission Ventures

Social investment support

The Good Food Fund is managed by Ascension Ventures, who back entrepreneurs and businesses by providing capital, access to networks and expert mentorship.

Ascension Ventures worked with Jim Jams to understand what investment was required to help them to the next stage of growth. Jim Jams went on to raise £200,000 of investment from the Good Food Fund.

“We are thrilled to be able to support the growth of a brand in a market dominated by players that have not yet pivoted towards healthier solutions, which will be at their demise due to the current climate of consumers demanding healthier options without compromising taste. We believe Jim Jams has shown strong brand awareness and track record in the UK market and its continued growth will enable the brand to serve a market ready for healthier alternatives.” Emma Steele, Investment Director at Ascension Ventures

The development of Jim Jams through the accelerator and then on to receiving social investment is a great example of how bringing a network of support and partners together can help shape and build a venture tackling an entrenched social issue.

The second investment of the Good Food Fund, Foodlum, addresses the problem in UK areas where the options for healthier food delivery are currently limited. Through working with a network of existing restaurant partners, Foodlum develops healthier food for on-demand delivery that arrives at the consumer’s home hot and ready to eat. Foodlum has created its first digital brand, a plant-based takeaway, Sacred Chow. Ascension Ventures first met the founder, Stuart Mainwaring, in early 2020 and worked to support him in his raise of £610,000, £150,000 of which was from the Good Food Fund. This investment will help Foodlum to scale its first brand and also develop brands catering for other cuisines. The Good Food Fund partners will support Foodlum in developing these new healthier dishes.

So, is this a recipe for success in tackling childhood obesity? It’s too early to say, but we’re excited by the potential of these first two investments and as the fund continues to develop, we will test and learn from this new approach; discovering how best we can scale the enterprise solutions and investment models that deliver most impact.

“Our first two investments demonstrate the exciting possibilities that exist for improving the diets of families across the UK through making affordable, convenient, tasty and healthier options available to all.” Matt Towner, Portfolio Manager, Impact on Urban Health

If you’d like to support innovation to help tackle childhood obesity or learn more about this fund and how you can get involved, please do get in touch.

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