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Reaching for the Starlings: 15 food entrepreneurs to watch in 2021

Whether it’s vibrant plant-based meat alternatives or guilt-free indulgent treats, food entrepreneurs in the UK are really outdoing themselves, creating more and more exciting flavours to tantalise the taste buds. 

In partnership with Starling Bank, the Reaching for the Starlings campaign shines a spotlight on exciting entrepreneurs making waves in their industry in the UK. Here are our 15 food entrepreneurs to watch in 2021.

Jess Salamanca - Banana Scoops

Jess Salamanca is the founder of Banana Scoops, a range of natural, vegan ice cream made from bananas. Created with only a few natural ingredients, Banana Scoops’ products are free from sugar, artificial sweeteners and nasties. Jess claims they are so healthy ‘you could have them for breakfast’.

Eve Yankah - BEPPS Snacks

Eve Yankah is the founder of BEPPS Snacks, a range of crisp snacks made from peas, pulses and grains that hero the black-eyed pea. Vegan-friendly, gluten free and less than 90 calories per pack, Eve created the brand to provide her crisp-loving daughter with a healthy alternative. She has secured listings with major supermarkets and won a Great Taste award in 2020.

Hannah McCollum - ChicP

Hannah McCollum launched ChicP with a determination to change the way we approach cooking and food waste by bringing healthy, colourful dips to the food market. ChicP is a sustainable brand producing nutritious Veggie Bites and healthy hummus all made using surplus or ‘wonky’ vegetables.

Eliza Jones - Chosan By Nature

Eliza Jones is the founder of Chosan By Nature, a range of organic, exotic drinks, sorbets and baobab jams. Inspired by her aunt’s cooking when she was a child in her native Gambia, Eliza’s brand name comes from the Wolof language, with ‘chosan’ meaning ‘cultural heritage’. Supporting African food producers, Chosan By Nature’s hibiscus and baobab products only use fruits and plants indigenous to Africa.

Fatou Mendy - Dark Sugars

Fatou Mendy is the founder of Dark Sugars, a chocolate shop based in Brick Lane selling quality, hand-crafted, dark chocolate treats inspired by the flavour and richness of her native Ghana and its culture. It also includes the Dark Sugars: Cocoa House, offering thick, dark hot chocolate.

Dr Will Breakey & Josh Rose - Dr. Will’s

Created by former doctor Will Breakey and restaurant owner Josh Rose, Dr. Will’s is a range of sustainable, vegan-friendly and healthy alternatives to mainstream sauces. Its ketchups, mayos and dressings contain only natural ingredients and are free from artificial sweeteners, while its classic mayo and chilli mayo products are both recipients of Great Taste awards.

Taz Basunia & Imran Merza - Jealous Sweets

Taz Basunia and Imran Merza are the co-founders of Jealous Sweets, a range of 100% plant-based and gluten free sweets that are junk-free and ‘shamelessly tasty’. Each pack of sweets is made with only natural ingredients and fruit juices, removing gelatine, artificial colours and synthetic flavours.

Delight Mapasure & Keitumetse Eugene Ngwenya - Ks Wors

Delight Mapasure and Keitumetse Eugene Ngwenya are the co-founders of Ks Wors, a brand producing a range of award-winning, premium tier, South African-inspired sausages called boerewors. Packed with authentic South African recipes, the duo wanted to bring a feeling of ‘warm sunshine, spice and happiness’ with every bite.

Stuart MacDonald - ManiLife

Stuart MacDonald is the founder of ManiLife, a range of award-winning craft peanut butters. All of its peanuts are sourced from a single family-run farm in Cordoba in Argentina, providing the finest high-oleic peanuts, which offer greater ‘good fat’ content than their standard counterparts. ManiLife was also the first peanut butter brand to think about roasting peanuts the same way master roasters think about coffee.

Simeon Van der Molen - Moving Mountains

Simeon Van der Molen is the founder of Moving Mountains, a range of award-winning, plant-based meat alternatives. Its burgers, sausages, hot dogs have all been praised for their resemblance to meat in both texture and taste. Simeon started the company after his high cholesterol diagnosis forced him to give up meat and dairy, but struggled to find a suitable (and tasty) range of meat-free products.

Anushi Desai & Ashley Shakibai - Plant Pops

Anushia Desai and Ashley Shakibai are the co-founders of Plant Pops, a range of popped lotus seed snacks. The seeds are sourced sustainably from farmers in India, roasted and seasoned using natural ingredients to create delicious flavours. Each product is 100% vegan, gluten-free, sustainably grown, free from artificial ingredients, free from palm oil and less than 100 calories.

Andréa Cavallo - Planty

Andréa Cavallo is the founder of Planty, a health, plant-based ready meal subscription box. Working with a former Michelin Star restaurant chef, each meal is made with responsible and nutritious ingredients to produce restaurant quality food as ready meals delivered straight to your door.

Joe Maruzzi - Pleesecakes

Joe Maurzzi is a painter-decorator turned founder of Pleesecakes, a brand of ‘out-of-this-world’ cheesecakes that use inventive toppings and flavour combinations. Joe has also combined ice cream and cheesecake to create the novel Freezecakes product range. He received backing from Touker Souleyman on BBC’s Dragons’ Den and has launched a no-bake cheesecake recipe book.

Max Rees and Ed Hauck - The Curators

Max Rees and Ed Hauck are the co-founders of The Curators, a range of craft jerky, biltong, chicharrones and almond snacks inspired by their love of South African and Latin flavours. Travel lovers, they seek to introduce and incorporate the intriguing flavours and ingredients they find in street markets, underground bars and hidden gems around the world.

Andy Shovel & Pete Sharman - THIS™

Andy Shovel and Pete Sharman are the co-founders of THIS™, a range of plant-based, meat-alternative products. Sold in supermarkets and used by restaurants across London, its products are high in protein and fibre, free from nitrates and antibiotics, and full of nutrients. Each one is made predominantly from soybean protein, water and pea protein, produced in a way that creates a genuine meat-like texture.