The study found that almost a fifth (17.11%) of all investments awarded in the Den over the past 14 series went to food and drink companies. This was followed by clothing businesses, which accounted for 11.2%.
Peter Jones and Deborah Meaden, were the most likely to invest in the food and drink sector having invested in 17 and nine businesses respectively.
As a percentage of his total investments, Simon Woodroffe was the most prolific food investor, with the founder of YO! Sushi’s only deal in the Den being a food company.
Expertise in the market
Jane Milton, of Jane Milton Food Industry Expert, a specialist management consultancy service for the food industry, which worked with a number of the Dragons’ Den food businesses, said: “The dragons work with food businesses because they already have experience in this market.
“They connect to experts in different fields who can offer advice, contacts etc and because you can make real changes, often without major investment.”
Food and drink are the fast-moving consumer goods sectors where the effects of change are quickly noted, said Milton. “Because the dragons have great contacts with retailers, they can open doors.”
Milton worked with Deborah Meaden, who is currently supporting food businesses Yee Kwon, Vini and Bal and Propermaid.
Chika Russell, who appeared in the Dragons’ Den in series 13, accepted an offer from the dragons for her food business but later turned it down after believing she could build the business herself.
‘New, contemporary food products’
“Food and drink businesses work on Dragons’ Den for a few reasons,” said Russell. “First, there are major changes in consumer eating patterns and the large players are just not set up to innovate to meet the demand for new, contemporary food products.
“Second, the Dragons are inevitably all consumers of food and drink and can immediately have their own view as to whether it can be successful in the market place.”
Company Check founder Alastair Campbell noted that the categories of business receiving investment on Dragons’ Den have not changed significantly over the years.
“Food became more popular following the Levi Roots investment,” said Campbell. “But areas such as technology, which you might expect to grow, have not.”
Investors on the show have their own particular interests in certain areas but that was not always reflected in their investment decisions.
“It was a surprise not to see Piers Linney, having founded Outsourcery, driving the tech investments but at the same time, they can only invest if the pitch is there. Hopefully, we’ll see more tech pitches in the Den this series,” said Campbell.
Would your food or drink manufacturing idea impress the dragons? Here’s how to take that first step on the road to winning £50,000 worth of funding to set you on the road to food or drink manufacturing stardom.
Meanwhile, which have proved the dragons’ most successful food and drink manufacturing business investments? Find out here.
Dragons' Den –at a glance
- Major TV hit show for BBC 2
- First launched in Japan, now an international brand
- Entrepreneurs pitch for investment from the show’s dragons: five venture capitalists willing to invest their own money in exchange for equity
- Hosted by business and current affairs presenter Evan Davies
- Each entrepreneur is given a pitch of up to three minutes
- Anything discussed in the den can be broadcast
- Entrepreneur can refuse investment from a dragon if they think they are an unsuitable investor or the deal on the table isn’t right for them