Dragon Peter Jones said Oppo would have to sort out the aftertaste, or the product would be as popular as “mud guards on a tortoise”.
Entrepreneurs Harry and Charlie Thuillier took their healthy ice cream onto the TV show and asked for a £60,000 investment for a 7% share of the business.
Oppo markets itself as the world’s healthiest luxury dairy ice cream. It is made using virgin coconut oil and stevia leaves with “added super foods” from Brazil. It has fewer calories and a third of the sugar than an apple.
Charlie Thuillier revealed to the Dragons: “We launched seven months ago in Waitrose and Ocado. Since then we launched in Wholefoods and three regional distributors.
“We are just about to launch in Budgens, Compass Group and a high street Italian restaurant backed by a celebrity chef.”
Concerns about the aftertaste
However, despite initially calling the product “exceptional”, Dragon Sarah Willingham also highlighted concerns about the aftertaste.
“I think you have done well with the upfront taste but that aftertaste is a real deal breaker for me. I think it will impact your repeat purchase going forward,” she said.
Despite Jones’s scepticism, he said that with the growth of the free-from market they had created a product with potential.
One dragon’s verdict
“The reward doesn’t justify the risk.”
- Nick Jenkins
Dragon Deborah Meaden immediately took herself out of the running, as she already owned an ice cream business.
£1M turnover and a net profit of £35,000
But the financial projections dissuaded the remaining Dragons. The brothers revealed a current turnover of £60,000 with a net loss of £130,000. They predicted further losses until 2017/18 when there would be a £1M turnover and a net profit of £35,000.
Touker Suleyman said that the product looked very investable. But added: “What concerns me if I was to invest is the continuation of these losses.
“Bearing in mind you have spent a lot of money in developing the business and opening doors I would have thought by now those losses would have started coming down.”
Dragon Nick Jenkins agreed: “The reward doesn’t justify the risk.”
In response to the taste concerns Charlie Thuillier said: “I was genuinely surprised. We are pretty confident that the aftertaste is pretty incredible.”
Oppo Ice Cream is available in three flavours Madagascan Vanilla and Baobab; Salted Caramel and Lucuma; and Mint Choc Swirl with Spirulina.
The ice cream is currently available in 1,300 sites across the UK.
Dragons’ Den update
Ice cream entrepreneur Charlie Thuillier told FoodManufacture.co.uk today (February 21) that in the nine months since the show was filmed, the business had planned to invest heavily in raising awareness of the Oppo brand over the next three years.
The business had gained the support of 700 investors, as a result of record-breaking crowdfunding campaign. The business had also subsequently won a series of awards including The Guardian Start-up of the Year 2015, Most Innovative Product of the Year award.