Future 50: Plant-based pizza firm makes guest appearance on Mary Berry show
- Credit: ©Endemol Shine UK
One Planet Pizza, the Norfolk-based vegan pizza company and Future 50 member, challenged Mary Berry to go plant-based in a recent episode of her new TV series.
The company’s founders, father and son duo Mike and Joe Hill, prepared a couple of vegan dishes – barbecue pulled jackfruit and turmeric tofu scramble – for the celebrity chef and food writer on the episode of Love to Cook, which aired on BBC2 on Thursday, November 18.
“Mary was very open to trying new flavours, and she wasn’t aware of black salt, vegan butter and things like that,” says Mike. “It was a great experience.”
Mike and Joe founded One Planet Pizza in 2016, when Mike was running a vegan restaurant in Norwich. “When I was growing up, we always used to make pizzas on a Saturday night, but I wouldn't put any cheese on mine because the vegan cheese was terrible” says Mike. “Fast forward 30 years, we started to experiment with vegan pizzas at the restaurant and came up with three or four flavours.”
After six months of cooking pizzas in the restaurant kitchen and distributing to a handful of shops around Norwich, One Planet Pizza completed a successful crowdfunding round on Seedrs. This was followed by a second investment round in January 2021, which raised £365,000.
The company now has its own production unit in Hethersett and is stocked in more than 500 independent shops across the UK, with listings in Ocado and Whole Foods. It is also in conversation with two national multiples, while exporting to eight countries in the EU and Middle East. “Hopefully Australia soon,” Mike adds.
When launching, One Planet Pizza became the UK’s first frozen vegan pizza company. The decision to only supply frozen pizzas aligns with the company’s mission to help create a better planet. “You can get more money for chilled and fresh pizzas, but 30-40% is just chucked away, whereas frozen pizzas have a 12-month lifespan,” says Mike. “We just didn’t want to go down that wasteful route.”
One Planet Pizza ensures all of its packaging is recyclable wherever possible, while a link-up with international charity One Tree Planted sees a tree planted for every 50 pizzas it sells. Since February 2021, the company has planted over 2,900 trees for reforestation and restoration projects worldwide.
Mike and Joe are now looking to go a step further with their sustainability credentials. “A few years ago, a company looked at the carbon footprint of our pizza compared to meat or dairy pizzas, and it was 40% lower,” says Mike. “We're now doing a piece of work with a company to become the first certified carbon-neutral pizza.”
Suffice to say, TV appearances will only generate more interest in the company. The episode of Love to Cook also featured on popular Channel 4 show Gogglebox and received a positive review in The Times. “The buyer at one of the multiples we are speaking to had seen the programme,” says Mike. “Those sorts of things obviously help.”
And another investment round could be on the horizon if discussions prove fruitful. “That would really allow us to scale up production and possibly look at an EU-based production site,” says Mike.