Foodie startups: our summer picnic picks

The top 10 quirky food and drink must-haves for an alfresco experience like no other. An index not to be missed, featuring exclusive interviews and brand new products

The nights are shorter and the days are warmer. Schools are out, aftersun sales have peaked, and summer anthems are dominating the charts. This can only mean one thing – it's time to shake out the old woollen picnic rug, and pack your hamper with all sorts of goodies.

We've searched high and low to find everything you'd need for a quirky, alfresco menu, picking out the 10 best startups that offer sustainable or alternative products to really spruce up your spread.

From gluten-free bevvies to seafaring snacks, and even something for man's best friend to munch on, our feast of startup delights highlights the new businesses that are bringing something new to the table blanket. Plus, to provide real insight into what makes a business tick, we've included exclusive interviews with each of the featured founders.

Read on for a full-fat index of the hottest food and drink startups that are causing a stir in the UK business scene right now.


A guide to our startup picnic picks:


# 10 Can-D


“The picnic pick with the wow factor”

We can guarantee this startup will tingle your taste for curious concoctions…
foodie startups picnic

Can-D use sustainably farmed, Scottish salmon to create a truly unique picnic pick. The salmon is dry cured, then brined in a special mix of salt, honey, and maple syrup to be packaged and sold as a delicate, unusual delight.

A traditional food in Canada, candied smoked salmon might sound slightly strange, but it is a true delicacy. For a slightly more up-market alfresco experience, pair it perfectly with delicious cream cheese and some fragrant fizz.

We love the unusual, yet sustainable aspect of this startup, and we’re sure you will too.

Name of startup: Can-D

What’s the product? Candied smoked salmon

How much does it cost? £10.00 per 100g pack

When did the business launch? 2018

Where’s the business based? Bethnal Green, London

Founder(s): Niall Carroll

Website: www.can-d.co.uk

How did the idea for such a unique product come about?

“I first came across candied smoked salmon at a family reunion in Vancouver Island. My cousins bought it from the local Canadian First Nation Tribe, and we shared it with some beers next to the bonfire in their garden.

“Then, a friend bought me a small Pro Q cardboard smoker for my birthday, and we made a lot of smoked cheese. Looking around for something else to do with the smoker, I remembered our trip to Canada, and decided to try the candied smoked salmon we'd had there.

“After some successes and some failures, I had a product that was attracting some interest from food professionals that I know.”

Who is your target market?

“Quality independent retailers, high end bars, and craft beer taprooms and hotels.”

What have been some notable breakthroughs so far?

“Getting a slot on Sunday Brunch last week was a good score! Simon Rimmer is a fan now, so we’re very pleased about that.”

What’s your top picnic hamper must-have this summer?

“Some six-month aged comté cheese and a delicious baguette. Definitely not BBQ Pringles and hummus, that would be just wrong! (Just kidding – it’s great).”



foodie startup picnic picks

# 9 Jubel

“The picnic pick that’s a great tipple for health conscious socialites”

A beer that’s both gluten-free and vegan! Yes, that’s right – we’ve found the perfect summer beverage that you can sip back and enjoy, without breaking your diet plan.

Coming in at number nine for its innovative take on beer, Jubel is pioneering naturally infused fruit lager. It’s a big hit here at Startups Towers, and we’re confident it’ll provide the perfect picnic tipple.

Based in Cornwall, Jubel has created a range of easy-drinking craft lagers. Crisp and zingy with fruity notes, its beers will appeal to adventurous fans of craft beer and fruit cider. At a sessionable 4% ABV, Jubel beers are perfect for a day spent picnicking in the sunshine – they also contain 60% less sugar than your average fruit cider or G&T, and contain just 125 calories. What’s not to love?

Here’s the full lowdown on the drink of the season.

Name of startup: Jubel

What’s the product? Gluten-free, vegan, naturally infused fruity beers

How much does it cost? Upwards of £1.80 per 330ml bottle (depending on stockist)

When did the business launch? 2018

Where’s the business based? Launched in Cornwall, but also have a London hub

Founder(s): Jesse Wilson

Website: www.jubelbeer.com

How did the idea for such a unique product come about?

“We discovered a dangerously refreshing beer tradition called demi-pêche on a ski trip in the Alps, which was a pint of lager with a peach top. It uniquely had the refreshment of a fruit cider, with the dry finish and sessionability of a crisp lager.

“We thought this was too good not to share, so we sunk our savings into brewing beer that we then flew to a festival – escaping our nine-to-five jobs to pioneer a new style of beer.”

Who is your target market?

“We target the people who love our beer. That seems to be 25-35 year olds (with an even split of guys and girls), and people who generally socialise a lot but live a healthy and active lifestyle.”

What have been some notable breakthroughs so far?

“We’ve had a few proud moments so far! For starters, two of our beers were UK Country Winners in the 2018 World Beer Awards, which, as a new brand, was pretty mad!

“We also won ‘Top UK Beer’ in the 2019 London Beer Competition, and we’ve been shortlisted for a number of other awards.This included the 2018 World Beverage Innovation awards, where we were nominated with the likes of Coca-Cola and Carlsberg – two hefty brands to be rubbing shoulders with.”

What’s your top picnic hamper must-have this summer?

“Well, apart from the obvious, it’s got to be a good spread of some top class antipasti – Cerignola olives, artichokes, tomato and mozzarella balls, and add some crunch to the mix with some Manomasa Manchego & Olive crisps!”


# 8 Mia & Ben

foodie startups picnic picks

“The picnic pick that’s great for mums, dads, and little tums.”

We’re going goo-goo over this brand’s answer to conveniently feeding the kids!

Mia & Ben is the baby food business with big ideas. The company has taken its first steps into the world of High Pressure Processing (HPP) to make yummy, nutritious meals that are free from preservatives and high in vitamins.

A great picnic treat for little ones, Mia & Ben’s meals are fridge fresh and easy to digest – a truly new take on organic baby food.

Name of startup: Mia & Ben

What’s the product? Good-for-baby baby food

How much does it cost? £1.59 per 100g pouch (available on Ocado)

When did the business launch? 2017

Where’s the business based? Berlin-based (brand initially launched in the UK)

Founder(s): Daniel Auner and Karina Gentgen

Website: www.miabenorganic.com

How did the idea for such a unique product come about?

“Our first venture was Soup de Jour, a healthy soup restaurant in Soho, London. During this time, we noticed that parents with babies and young children were regularly asking us whether they could feed our freshly blended soups to their little ones. We felt we had to know what was actually out there for babies and young children, especially in terms of fresh foods.

“Our research found only heat processed products, stocked alongside other long-life tinned goods. So we had the idea of creating fresh, healthy and nutritious food for the baby and child category – food that was practical and portable, yet tasted as good as food made at home.”

Who is your target market?

“Busy parents who are passionate about food and cooking, but who have fast-paced lives typical of the 21st century that don’t always allow them to cook from home.”

What have been some notable breakthroughs so far?

“Definitely the launch in the UK with Ocado, and seeing the products on the shelf at Dunnes Stores in Ireland just last week.”

What’s your top picnic hamper must-have this summer?

Daniel: “Apart from packing plenty of Mia & Ben pouches in a cool bag for all the little ones, don’t forget a large blanket and a deck of cards.”

Karina: “Yes, I have to agree with Daniel – our pouches are the ideal chilled snack for children at picnics this summer! For adults and children, I would include sliced watermelon – it’s my absolute favourite summer picnic snack!”


Keen to know more? See this brand’s Just Started profile at Mia & Ben: Daniel and Katrina.


# 7 Garçon wines

foodie startups

“The picnic pick that brings ‘cheers' through your door”

Wine, through my door? But… how?

Garçon’s wines are really shaking things up. The startup has developed a flat-pack wine bottle that can fit through your letterbox, and slide neatly into your cool bag. The plastic bottles are 87% lighter than glass, making them perfect for carrying to your picnic patch of choice.

We’re impressed with this totally recycled (and recyclable) wine company, pouring a glass with some serious waste-free class.

Name of startup: Garçon wines

What’s the product? Eco-friendly wine that you can send through the post

How much does it cost? Depending on the stockist, upwards of £14.99

When did the business launch? 2016

Where’s the business based? London

Founder(s): Santiago Navarro

Website: www.garconwines.com

How did the idea for such a unique product come about?

“Our idea to flatten a wine bottle came about as we were trying to come up with a way to deliver bottles of wine into UK homes without the recipient needing to be in. So we flattened the wine bottle, and made it out of recycled plastic, to make it able to fit through the letterbox on the front door of most UK homes.”

Who is your target market?

“We are a business-to-business company, so our immediate target is other companies with a primary focus on ecommerce.”

What have been some notable breakthroughs so far?

“It would be hard to beat the letter that Sir David Attenborough sent me, in which he said he ‘could see the advantages of our wine bottle being manufactured from pre-existing plastic.‘ He also praised us for saving energy by reducing the weight of our bottles, and signed off by wishing us every success.

“I guess having Sir David’s good wishes is definitely humbling and motivating.

“In addition, the Evening Standard called us ‘a game changer’; Cosmopolitan echoed what many people have said to us – ‘Why hasn’t someone invented this sooner?’ – while Chris Evans on BBC Radio 2 said that he ‘loved it’.”

What’s your top picnic hamper must-have this summer?

“I have two top picnic hamper must-haves. Firstly, all food and drink taken on any picnic should be packed in smart, sustainable packaging – like our eco, flat wine bottles – to help protect our ailing planet. It would be wrong to feast in nature without respecting and caring for that same natural world.

“Secondly, sun cream is a must, seeing as the hotter summers mean we also need to protect our health from rising temperatures.”


# 6 BOUNDLESS

foodie startups picnic

“The picnic pick that takes snacking to the next level”

Get ready for a snack attack of unparalleled proportions. Something to nibble on that won’t leave you feeling that guilt in your gut.

BOUNDLESS takes a new look at the way we graze throughout the day. With its special activated nut and seed recipe, this little morsel will fill you right up.

Activated nuts and seeds are special because they’ve been soaked in a salt/water solution to kick-start the process of germination (which helps with digestion later down the line). The nuts and seeds are then slowly dehydrated to pack a flavoursome punch.

Coming in at a respectable number six on our list of picks, this is the perfect picnic nibble to keep those grazers satisfied.

Name of startup: BOUNDLESS

What’s the product? Activated nuts and seeds

How much does it cost? £12 for a pack of 12

When did the business launch? 2018

Where’s the business based? Stokes Croft, Bristol

Founder(s): Cathy Moseley

Website: www.weareboundless.co.uk

How did the idea for such a unique product come about?

“Being gluten intolerant, I found it hard to find snacks that weren’t either full of rubbish, or that tasted rubbish. I wanted to take functional snacking to the next level, for anyone and everyone to be able to grab a bag on the go, without compromising on taste or nutritional value.”

Who is your target market?

“The mindful eater: those busy people who, despite being on the move, still wish to look after their bodies, and who want something more from their snack.”

What have been some notable breakthroughs so far?

“Most recently, our place in Sainsburys’ Taste of the Future trial. We’ve also been shortlisted and won a variety of awards, such as the Great Taste Award, Free From Snack award and have been shortlisted for the Women’s Health Store Cupboard award.”

What’s your top picnic hamper must-have this summer?

“It has to be a bag of BOUNDLESS! Fierce flavours for both sweet and savoury lovers, convenient 30g bags to pop into a picnic hamper, and a crunch-fix with health benefits.”


# 5 Scrumbles

“The picnic pick that treats man’s best friend” foodie startups picnic

A business with a bite as good as its bark, Scrumbles is not only a registered B Corp, but a perfect treat for furry friends on any picnic!

Keep your dogs happy and your vet bills low with natural, tasty pet foods, which all dog owners should be fetching this summer.

Name of startup: Scrumbles

What’s the product? Pet food

How much does it cost? £2.99 for 100g Turkey Training Treats

When did the business launch? 2018

Where’s the business based? Croydon, South London

Founder(s): Aneisha Soobroyen

Website: www.scrumbles.co.uk

How did the idea for such a unique product come about?

“We try to brush our cat and dog’s teeth, but it’s a difficult task that we’re not always on top of. An annual dentist trip can cost as much as £400 for each pet, and can cause a lot of anxiety for us and them. So we wanted to find an easier method of oral care.

“Leading products in the market have vague ingredients like “cereals” and “meat derivatives”, as well as having a high fat content. What’s more, the healthier options are quite expensive, may not contain active ingredients that fight plaque, and everything seems to come in pesky plastic packaging.

“So, we wanted to do something about it. Naturally, we also wanted to create a healthy everyday treat for dogs that didn’t contain added sugars and salts. Our calming nibbles are great for training sessions, as a bedtime snack, or during periods of anxiety like fireworks season.”

Who is your target market?

“Conscious pet parents who want to know they’re feeding something clean to their furry companion.”

What have been some notable breakthroughs so far?

“Good Morning’s Pip Thomson has a pooch who’s a regular Scrumbles customer, as are a host of Instagram-famous cats and dogs like @madfluffs.

“We’ve also been shortlisted for the Grocer’s New Product award, as well as Croydon’s Startup of the Year. Fingers and paws crossed!”

What’s your top picnic hamper must-have this summer?

“For our furry friends, a bag of our Nibbles for sure. And for their human, a can of Dash water.”


Looking for more? Be sure to read the Scrumbles Just Started profile!


# 4 Squirrel Sisters

foodie startups picnic
“The picnic pick that’s great for gluten-free snack fanatics”

From blog to business, the Squirrel Sisters (a childhood nickname turned stellar piece of branding) have seen their health and wellness brand go from strength to strength. The brand now offers an easy snacking option to people looking for a gluten-free, healthy alternative to the usual array of sweets and chocolate.

We see big things in store for this wholesome business with strong family values. Sitting at a healthy number four, we’re sure you’ll love this startup as much as we do!

Name of startup: Squirrel Sisters

What’s the product? Health and wellness company specialising in snacks

How much does it cost? £7.50 for a selection box of 4 bars ( 1x Cacao Brownie, 1x Cacao Orange, 1x Raspberry Ripple, 1x Coconut Cashew)

When did the business launch? 2015

Where’s the business based? London

Founder(s): Gracie and Sophie Tyrrell

Website: www.squirrelsisters.com

How did the idea for such a unique product come about?

“Health, wellness, food, and how it makes us feel have always been passions of ours. With a growing following on our blog, we saw an opportunity to turn it into a business. So, after much planning and preparation, we launched our snack bars in November 2015, which we already had the recipes for.

“The recipes were developed by me (Gracie) when we lived together after university in Balham. I used to make them for Sophie because she has a gluten intolerance, and at the time there wasn’t really anything available that was gluten-free, refined sugar-free, and delicious. They’re the perfect guilt-free treat!”

Who is your target market?

“Our customers want to feel good, but not compromise on taste or restrict themselves. They want a convenient, delicious snack that is genuinely healthy, so they can feel satisfied as well as energised.”

What have been some notable breakthroughs so far?

“We’ve won three Great Taste awards, and The Women’s Health BEST bar/ball food award in 2018. Launching into Waitrose, and then getting rolled out to more stores based on our great sales was also a big win for the business.

“Not forgetting becoming available on nearly every high street in the UK after launching into Holland & Barrett, and the publication of our cookbook (Naturally Delicious Snacks & Treats).”

What’s your top picnic hamper must-have this summer?

“It’s got to be the Squirrel Sisters share bags and snack bars really…”



foodie startups

# 3 ChickP

“The picnic pick that reduces food waste, one dip at a time”

ChickP is a raw vegetable hummus company with a passionate commitment to reducing food waste. From modest beginnings, to becoming Wimbledon’s official dip of choice for the past three years, ChickP is as impressive as it is healthy. The company provides glorious pots of goodness that we urge you to try!

Healthier hummus that helps British farmers and reduces food waste gets a huge thumbs up from us, which is why ChickP sits proudly within our top three startup picnic picks of 2019.

Name of startup: ChickP

What’s the product? Vegetable-flavoured hummus dips

How much does it cost? £3.00 per pot

When did the business launch? 2016

Where’s the business based? London

Founder(s): Hannah McCollum

Website: www.chicp.co.uk

How did the idea for such a unique product come about?

“After many years in catering and events, I got sick of seeing the amount of good, quality, fresh food that was going to waste.

“I did a lot of cooking for private clients, and would often turn the leftover vegetable dishes into hummus and dips. They were colourful, bright, and healthy – and, of course, waste free.

“I soon got a reputation, and people would ask ‘what’s the dip of the day Hannah?’.

This is how my idea to raise awareness around food waste, whilst creating a business and healthy product, came about.”

Who is your target market?

“Mainly health conscious, sustainably aware, vegan/veggie women. However, ChickP’s dips are great for kids, families, and snacking – plus, weaning men off plain hummus is also great fun!”

What have been some notable breakthroughs so far?

“One of our big breakthroughs was being listed with Wholefoods in our first year (October 2016). We also won the Best World Convenience Product in 2016, and then the Trailblazer award in 2017.

“In 2018, being listed with Ocado was another great breakthrough, and we’ve also loved supplying the Wimbledon Championships for the last three years.”

What’s your top picnic hamper must-have this summer?

“Soffles pitta chips (to dip into some ChickP hummus, of course), and Eat Real hummus chips. Kombucha (any kind), and maybe some bubbly…

“I also love Emily’s Crisps (the sweet potato ones), Gosh baked falafel, and lots of fresh vegetables. Cru8 also have a range of delicious paleo baked goods!”


# 2 Sea Chips

foodie startups

“The startup that will make you think twice”

The sustainable, seafaring snack that’ll really catch your attention, Sea Chips’ salmon skin crisps – made from often wasted, nutrient packed fish skin – are a picnic treat that really shouldn’t slip the net.

Packed with protein, and sure to spark some curiosity amongst picnickers and snack lovers alike, we’re impressed with the ingenuity and imagination that underpins this truly unique product.

Give it a try, we dare you…

Name of startup: Sea Chips

What’s the product? Salmon skin crisps

How much does it cost? Depending on the stockist, upwards of £1.59 per packet

When did the business launch? 2017

Where’s the business based? Harrogate

Founder(s): Dan Pawson and Dom Smith

Website: www.sea-chips.com

How did the idea for such a unique product come about?

“My business partner (Dom) and I came up with Sea Chips when we were working in restaurants, and discovered that the majority of salmon skin was being thrown away – despite its nutritious and protein-packed properties.

“What started as an observation soon turned into a business idea, with a solution to a problem… we began to create the 100% natural product, taking inspiration from the popularity of fish skin crisps in Asia.

“After starting out trialling our new idea in my garage and after hours in restaurant kitchens, we sourced our own kitchen unit. We then teamed up with an experienced team with a solid background in the fishing industry and manufacturing fish products, and began our journey to bring Sea Chips to the market.

“Sea Chips was already gaining traction in the food industry, and we were quickly snapped up by Fenwicks, Harrods, and Whole Foods Market, to kick us off.”

Who is your target market?

“Health and eco-conscious consumers, generally aged 25-40.”

What have been some notable breakthroughs so far?

“In September 2018, we were selected as one of the top 20 food and agriculture businesses across Europe to pitch at FoodBytes!

“In February this year, we appeared on BBC 2’s Dragon’s Den, where we turned down an offer from multi-millionaire Touker Suleyman. He made a £30k offer for a whopping 35% of our business! We then went on to secure the backing of a leading salmon-industry mogul, Jonathan Brown, who has been a huge help in us scaling up our business.”

What’s your top picnic hamper must-have this summer?

“I’m a fan of Can-D’s quirky salmon made with a mix of salt, sugar, and air drying – as well as Eat Grub roasted crickets!”


# 1 OGGS

“The startup that’s oh-so-sustainably scrummy” foodie startups

What’s better than cake? Guilt-free cake, of course!

OGGS is a startup that’s getting thrifty with chickpea water (otherwise known as aquafaba) – which proves a brilliant alternative to baking with eggs. Through the power of plants, OGGS has been bringing joy to vegans and cake lovers since 2018.

And, thanks to cunning ingenuity and a truly yummy product, OGGS has landed first place in our Startups picnic picks of 2019 index!

A business that’s really taken the (vegan) biscuit, this is the startup you should be packing into your hamper this summer. We’re in love with these scrumptious morsels, proving that there’s never been a better time to have a nibble of a plant-based diet.

Name of startup: OGGS

What’s the product? Vegan cake

How much does it cost? Upwards of £4.25 for 9 mini cupcakes (depending on stockist)

When did the business launch? 2018

Where’s the business based? Vauxhall, London

Founder(s): Hannah Carter

Website: www.loveoggs.com

How did the idea for such a unique product come about?

“It all started when I made the decision to go vegan, and realised that good, cruelty-free cake was hard to find. This quickly evolved into a vision for change… and some pretty awesome cakes too!

“Now, our mission is to create plant-based alternatives to everyday foods that taste as delicious as you’ve always known them, whilst positively changing the future of the planet, animals and people with every little bite.”

Who is your target market?

“Everyone! We don’t just want vegans to love our products – we want to appeal to the general consumer, especially those who would usually avoid eating something if they see ‘vegan’ on the label. Our aim is to make our products accessible to all!”

What have been some notable breakthroughs so far?

“Getting our products into two major UK retailers was a huge moment for us – it still feels surreal seeing our cake boxes on the shelves!

“Speaking of our boxes, a lot of hard work has gone into making sure our packaging is as environmentally friendly as possible. We are one of the first companies to be using a new type of plastic, so every part of our packaging is fully recyclable, and will even biodegrade in landfill.”

What’s your top picnic hamper must-have this summer?

“Well, apart from OGGS of course… We absolutely love the Coconut Collaborative little chocolate pots! They’re so delicious, and go perfectly with some strawberries and raspberries.”


That’s the official end to our startup picnic pick list. We hope you enjoy the rest of the summer and try some of the startup delights on offer this year.

Or, maybe you’re feeling inspired to do it yourself, and start your very own business!

If you’re keen to make 2019 the year you realise your startup dream, we recommend taking a look at our guide on how to start a street food business, how to start a side hustle, or the 13 best business ideas you should start in 2019. And, once you’re up and running, here are the 10 best business tools you’ll be needing to run a smooth operation.