Josiah Meldrum co-founded Hodmedod with Nick Saltmarsh and William Hudsonlate in 2012 after research suggested there was a gap in the market for a range of British produced beans and peas. Not even a year later and the business is making huge strides.
Hodmedod has been registered with FoodTrade from the very beginning, it seemed about time we caught up with Josiah to find out a bit more about the peaks and troughs of setting up a small food business.
Josiah, what made you add Hodmedod to FoodTrade in the first place?
“We have always been interested in the question of how we can work to shorten supply chains and increase accountability. Along with this broad interest we were specifically interested to know more aboutHodmedod’s supply chain as our trading relationships developed. The bigger we get, the easier it becomes to lose sight of where our products end up”.
**Josiah and business partner Nick have worked extensively on local food systems research:
The Impact of Community Supported Agriculture, for the Soil Association 2011 http://www.soilassociation.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=l3kfHnNhvxg%3D&tabid=373
It’s almost been a year, how’s it going?
“We have some fantastic, loyal customers who have really embraced our product range, this includes independent retailers and caterers buying wholesale but also lots of people who buy from us direct via our online shop – it’s fantastic when you develop personal relationships with your customers; it’s a very satisfying element of the job.
”We are developing a new range of products for the Autumn to include canned organic beans and prepared foods including, we think, the first ever cans of British grown and packaged baked beans! It’s an exciting time for us, we are always on the lookout for new opportunities to boost awareness of Hodmedod and find new routes to market for our product range”.
And the challenges?
“Hodmedod’s is one of a kind at the moment and, though we’re selling products that are widely grown in the UK (and used to be much more widely eaten), for many people ours are unfamiliar products. So marketing and communication is crucial; creating awareness and a demand for our ‘new’ products outside the usual outlets. It’s a challenge, but it’s very rewarding”
‘We have found that most things take a bit longer than we initially anticipate!”.
“We are increasingly supplying through national wholesalers who cannot always tell us where our products will be stocked, this is a new challenge that has come with growth. You feel like you lose a little of the personal aspect of selling your product and it comes back to getting the communications right, making sure there are other ways of talking to our customers”.
What role do you see for SMEs*** within a sustainable 21st century food system?
“The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills defines SMEs as any business with fewer than 250 employees. In 2012 over 99% of all businesses were SMEs.”
”Micro-businesses, those with 0-9 employees totalled 4.6 million in the same period, making up 96% of all businesses. Yet this type of business only accounts for 32% of employment and 20% of turnover. Large businesses with more than 250 employers make up less that 0.1% of businesses, 41% of employment and 51% of turnover.
“SMEs employ far more people than large enterprises and are responsible for around half of the UK’s business activity. Because of the dominance of the Big Five in the food retail sector and the way their centralised supply chains work, SMEs currently don’t get the look-in they should and it’s often hard for them to develop beyond certain niches.”
“Of course, smaller food businesses often have great public profiles – not least because they do great work but also because I think they appeal to a broad sense we all have of how things should be; but they’re not supplying the bulk of our food.”
“The only way we are going to see smaller food businesses playing a more prominent role within a supermarket led food system is for us all to collaborate to a much greater extent”.
“We need to capitalise on the value of our SMEs, they bring so much added social and environmental value to our local economies that their place in the market must be much bigger and more secure”.
Thanks Josiah and good luck with the new products!
Check out Hodmedod’s profile on FoodTrade:
Do you know or run a food business? Its free to sign up and list a business on http://foodtrade.com/ What do you know about your local food web? Together we can help SMEs trade more and better.