Business Leaders' Forum

Footing the bill at Freaks of Nature

By James Ridler contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Npd, Finance

The Government’s roll-out of the National Living Wage (NLW) and pressure to add more sugar to products are just some of the challenges facing Freaks of Nature founder Peter Ahye, as he revealed in this exclusive video interview.

Ahye described the difficulties his company has faced in trying to implement the changes to the National Living Wage (NLW) – which is set to rise 6.2% in April – across his business. He was speaking to Food Manufacture ​at this year’s Business Leaders’ Forum, which was supported by host sponsor Walker Morris and associate sponsor EDF.

“Do we continue to achieve the National Living Wage, or do we have to do something different?” ​he asked. “Do we do it consistently across the teams or do we find a way of scaling it and rewarding some people and less to others? It’ll be an interesting debate that I’ll have to get to grips with, in the next couple of months.​ 

‘The immediate impact’

“I think the issue for us is … the immediate impact. The business that we’re in, the prices we sell products for are pretty much fixed. There is a limit to what we can do in terms of passing this cost on – it comes straight off the bottom line. We have to find ways of being more efficient, more productive, which is already a challenge for a small business.”

Ahye also criticised the Government’s lack of communication with smaller food and drink manufacturers on the issues such as the increase to the NLW.

“I think I saw​ [news on the NLW increase] on the BBC News one morning and that was it – that was the first we heard of it,” ​Ahye explained. “But we’ll cope with it.”

Reformulation

On the topic of reformulation, Ahye pointed to the three Cs that dictate the flow of the business: the consumer, the customer and the competition. If the competition was keeping sugar in their product and the consumer wanted more sugar in their desserts, then Freaks of Nature needed to follow suit, he said.

He added: “When I first set up Freaks of Nature, my intention was to sell product with less than 20g of sugar per 100g, but the consumers continue to say – and our customers – put more sugar into the products, because that’s what sells. So, we are at a point now where consumers are driving what we are trying to do.

“We haven’t got enough consumers as yet who are taking lower quantities of sugar in their desserts. It’s a dessert, it’s meant to be an indulgent treat, so we’re thinking more about portion size and how we help on that.”

Music from https://filmmusic.io
"Acid Trumpet" by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com)
License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

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