MP grabs a pizza the action with visit to high growth Grimsby business

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 30 Apr 2018

GRIMSBY MP Melanie Onn joined directors and production line staff at Scratch Meals as it rolled out its new No Dough Pizza Co brand to supermarkets nationwide.

Asda has now listed the Europarc products, with the town’s superstore among those stocking the health-focused fast food favourite.

Launched initially in select Sainsbury’s stores – awkwardly not in Grimsby – the cauliflower base range is being brought forward by the team that moved up from London just over a year ago.

It has gone from four staff to 70 in that time, taking over the ground floor of a wing of Humber Seafood Institute, as it enjoys strong growth in its healthy meal solutions for time-pressured people. 

Managing director Philip Pinnell and his team are now seeking patent protection on the “technically challenging” feat to get the base right, with investment in new equipment supported and the pace and quality of the production support praised.

Mr Pinnell said: “We have only been in stores for a week and a half, but so far so good. It looks like the vegan range in particular is selling really, really well.

“Production is going really well, with a great team now on it.”

Having identified a niche for pizza as a healthier option in the week, production returned to the town after a 15 year break following Heinz’s departure.

No dough is the USP, and it was cracked after extensive research and development.

“It felt pretty-much impossible, it has been technically challenging,” Mr Pinnell said. “We’ve applied for a patent to protect our unique process, and that’s now pending. It is the type of knowledge-intensive development we want to be doing. It is difficult to copy, high value and creating something different for the customers.”

Read more: Fast-growing Fit Kitchen is now on-the-go with chilled snack range

Following success with the Fit Kitchen range, a team of 25 has been recruited, with 220 Sainsbury’s stores listing two different flavours; Ham and Mushroom and Vegan Margherita, with Asda adding Pepperoni as well as Margherita and Ham and Mushroom. The Co-op will be offering the latter two come May 16. 

Ms Onn said: “It is great to see innovation, it reinforces the fact we have got really experienced staff in this area, high quality skills that are driving new products, and it is really exciting.

“It is creating jobs which is absolutely fantastic, and this is what we want: More companies to come to Grimsby, where they can be confident the town and people will deliver for them.”

Food cluster’s capabilities are clear

Melanie Onn with Antony Hovanessian, director, and Jan Walker, quality control.

TWO of the directors behind the 200-mile move north told of the lure of Grimsby which has lived up to its moniker as Europe’s Food Town.  

Alex Neves said: “There are not very many places in the UK where you could launch, then look for 25 staff members and so quickly find so many skilled workers to fill a team in a matter of weeks. “Then there are all the services and extras too.

We have five new bits of machinery, three of which we were able to source locally, and all the fabrication is done locally too. When we need it we can have guys here knocking up food manufacturing equipment to a better standard than anywhere in the country, within 24 hours.

“In London they get their guys from Grimsby!” 

Read more: Sainsbury's salad boost for Scratch Meals' Fit Kitchen

Antony Hovanessian added: “I don’t think we market the Grimsby-area as having this capability on a national basis, and I can only speak of my own personal experience in food manufacturing.

“There are very few places with such a labour specialism, innovation and support. The council has been very helpful, and that helps a growing company, as there are different support needs as you grow. 

“We came to Grimsby because it provides this opportunity, I don’t think other places could do this.”

E-Factor Business has provided signposting support, aiding the draw down of  funding from Growing the Humber and Manufacturing Growth pots. Tim Maddinson, advisor, said: “It is great to see the innovation here. 

“One of the big issues we see is how slow organisations can be to take on new ideas, so these guys are quite ground-breaking. 

“They have come up with a product and got it in to major supermarkets.”

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