Paul Brown, BOL foods

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Paul Brown was born with great food in his blood; he grew up in Manchester and was raised in a family of foodies. His father opened the first wine bar in the city and his mother’s catering company meant there were always incredible home-cooked meals on the table.

With the importance of eating well deeply engrained in Paul, he jumped at the chance to join a fledgeling smoothie company - Innocent - in its first year (2001), where he spent 14 years, latterly as the Food Director. It was at Innocent that he headed up the launch of the ‘Veg Pot’ concept, which fundamentally changed the ready meal category in the UK. In 2012, when Innocent was bought by Coke and decided to focus solely on their drinks offering, Paul saw the opportunity to build on the concept, with Innocent's blessing, and start his own food business.

Having spent many years travelling back and forth from London to Manchester, Paul realised healthy eating on-the-go wasn’t easy, so with a team of expert nutritionists, top chefs and a collection of passionate friends, he launched BOL Foods into the UK grocery market in 2015. The mission: to make it easier for busy people to eat healthy and delicious food. Both consumers and businesses saw the value in what BOL was doing, and in 2016 BOL won the National Business of the Year Award.

However, the vision took a turn as Paul became increasingly aware of the environmental impact caused by our food choices. This led him to make the risky decision of dropping meat and fish from the entire range in June 2016, making BOL the first FMCG brand to re-launch as a plant-based company. This decision halved the business overnight and caused significant losses, but the mission was decided. The risk has since paid off, with BOL growing three-fold from 2016 to 2017. Paul hopes this step will set a precedent amongst food brands, as well as inspire people to change the way they eat. In short, his primary ambition is to get people to ‘eat more plants’.

BOL partnered with Action Against Hunger in 2016 to work on a long-term strategy to help those in need. As a first step, BOL donated 100% of its first year’s profits to the charity. Paul is committed to creating an environmentally responsible brand that takes to heart both people and the planet. Since launch, the BOL food portfolio has expanded from Veg Pots to include a range of shake-and-go Salad Jars and hearty protein-packed Super Soup Jars. All of BOL’s products are inspired by cuisines around the world. Paul is dedicated to growing a brand that offers high quality, plant-based recipes that are packed with nutrients and protein, but that are also easy and delicious.

Paul’s downtime is spent travelling the world in search of inspiration for the next BOL product, or in the family kitchen, pouring over cookbooks and trying new recipes.

Paul will be part of our Courier Panel on "Packaging" in the Shoptalk room on Friday.  Get your tickets here

Tara Sundramoorthi