An Interview with Hannah McCollum of ChicP

Hannah McCollum of ChicP

Meet Hannah McCullum…

ChicP creates a variety of hummus using surplus vegetables and supporting British farmers.

1.Can you explain to us how the idea for your business came to you and how the whole process kicked off?

ChicP was born after Hannah, the founder, witnessed huge amounts of food waste whilst working as a private chef.

Now chef turned entrepreneur Hannah combines her love for healthy food with campaigning for change, by creating dips from surplus ingredients.

ChicP work with British Farmers to collect imperfect or ‘wonky’ fruit and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste. We are now working on using UK chickpeas that would have otherwise gone to waste in manufacturing processes.

The vegetables are used to produce 5 delicious hummus flavours that are distributed to well-known retailers & restaurants.

I started in my kitchen and experimented by having friends round for ‘taste testing’. I would collect all my surplus vegetables from New Covent Garden Market early in the morning and prepare the hummus in my kitchen.

Attending Farehealthy was my first big event which is where I went to really ‘Test the market’. It was a great success and we sold out – we had so many new fans and I really gauged who my audience was. From that event, I decided to carry ChicP on and really go for it.

2.What were the biggest challenges you faced when bringing the idea to market?

  • My shelf life – not many people worked with a product that had a shelf life of less than 12 days!
  • Getting a ‘yes’ from the retailers and wholesalers that I want to be listed in (persistence pays off).
  • Finding a manufacturer who would agree to work with me

3.Where do you think good ideas come from and what inspires you?

I think good ideas come from experiences. Often new businesses or ideas come from a problem that needs to be solved. I was witnessing huge amounts of food waste; reading about farmers going out of business because of their produce being rejected by supermarket and always turning my leftovers into hummus. After doing some research on the hummus and dips market, it seemed like an obvious solution – to create a sustainable and vegan product that was becoming increasingly popular, using surplus vegetables and helping British farmers while educating our customers on the subject.

Jenny from Rubies in the Rubble was certainly an inspiration – I think well before I even knew I was going to start my own business. I saw an article about her in the Evening Standard and kept it. A few of my friends also sent it to me saying ‘Hannah, this is totally up your street!’.

Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, Gill Mellor and Thomasina Miers have all been big inspirations to me.

4.What are your company’s values and why are these things important to the business?

Our values are:

  • Eat Better, Live Better, Do Better. No Waste.
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Food waste is what I am most passionate about and as a business, this is hugely important. Not only do we stand by this with the food we produce, but we also witness a lot of food being wasted at events, with retailers, on farms etc.

We do our best to speak to the people working in these areas where we see waste. We try and help change their habits, question why it’s happening. We also educate consumers – I do a lot of panel talks and presentations in schools as well as in offices and for events. Just being able to inspire one person from each event to change their habit makes a difference.

Our packaging is 100% recyclable but we are always looking out for circular economy options – there are going to be some exciting innovations for 2020 where hopefully our pots will be made from plant based plastic.

Another big aim for the business is to have all our ingredients grown in the UK. We’ve had some really interesting and exciting meetings with UK farmers recently and again, I have high hopes for 2020!

It is so important to educate consumers about the importance of  food waste and to give them a better understanding of farming in the UK which is so important in today’s society.

5.What is next for your brand?

We have a new Velvet hummus launching in January – we are using different sizes of chickpea in the market to start off with and hopefully changing it to a new UK grown Pea! The importance of plant based protein is a growing trend as peas are one of the highest sources of plant based protein and also an easy crop for our farmers to grow.

6.What one piece of advice would you have for someone just starting out on their business journey or currently going through a setback?

I think it’s hugely important to be passionate about what you’re doing. You have to remember that you’ll be speaking about what you’re doing nearly every day of your life so the last thing you want to do is not believe in it or be bored with your idea.

I think sustainability is very important so please try and do as much as you can to make sure you’re doing the right thing for the environment as well as growing your business.

Persistence is key (I’m even still trying to tell myself this!).

7.What resources and tools do you use to remain productive or up-to-date on industry trends etc?

I read magazines such as The Grocer, attend industry events and make sure I continue to meet new people in the industry to keep me on my toes.

More info on Hannah McCullum…

Brand Name: ChicP
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Instagram handle: @chicpfood