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Amy Moring is co-founder of, a range of health foods and supplements that champion optimal health and wellness. named Hunter & Gather.

Amy and her partner, Jeff, have based their business on the premise that good health starts with good food.  I chatted to Amy to find out how the pair have achieved such remarkable success in a challenging market with their Hunter & Gather brand.

 

Amy’s background

Amy studied for a degree in Equine Studies and Business Management.   She worked at Mars, where, Amy says, they do look for people who think outside the box, which makes for entrepreneurial thinking.   However, it would be the generosity of her next employer, Lily’s Proper Food for Pets, that allowed her to start a business while still working and gradually reduce her hours as Hunter & Gather grew.

Amy and Jeff had met when they were sixteen and seventeen.  They had no plans to start a business.   However, Amy had had coeliac disease for most of her life, a condition where if you eat gluten, your immune system attacks your own tissues, and you cannot take on any nutrients.  Jeff also had some health issues and started to learn about Paleo and Keto.  Discovering that eating well didn’t mean not eating carbs, he removed processed foods and refined sugars from his diet.  They also had two grandparents with type 2 diabetes and managed to help reverse that.

Jeff had always nurtured a passion for finding a career where he could help others and discussed being a doctor or a teacher with Amy.  She said that many great doctors were championing this already but no one was working on products that enable people to switch to healthier ways of eating without having to make their own all the time.

The result was that in 2017, Amy and Jeff started Hunter & Gather Foods.

 

 

Hunter & Gather Foods  

Amy and Jeff wanted to produce food that tastes good but is free of harmful fats, lazy sugars, and grains.  They identified oils and condiments as areas that had become massive culprits of providing unhealthy eating. 

They set out to offer alternatives that were free of synthetic additives and tasted great.  In putting the recipes together, one rule was to keep out all the padding ingredients other companies love to use and keep everything natural.   Instead, they offer a continually growing range of products free from refined sugars, grains, gluten, and inflammatory seed and vegetable oils,    from avocado and olive oil mayonnaises to unsweetened sauces.

But in addition to the health foods, the Hunter & Gather range offers “pure, raw, wild” health supplements to strengthen various areas that you might need a boost with, from collagen to heart pills.

They wanted the Hunter & Gather brand to balance being free from but still appealing to the more gastronomic shopper.  They were also set on developing products to suit as many “free-from” needs as possible to help the most diverse groups of people suffering from allergies or health conditions.  In the UK, for example, 4.7m people have diabetes alone, and they offer help and advice to help people.

Entrepreneurial Challenges

The initial plan was to make the first Hunter & Gather product, a mayonnaise, on their own kitchen table, and they borrowed a vast blender from a friend’s small canteen.  But Amy and Jeff have pets, and they worried if this would be suitable, so they googled condiment manufacturers instead.  Incredibly, one got back to them within ten minutes of them sending a batch of emails out and said they were keen to talk more as they had been looking to do something more innovative.

The manufacturer didn’t even blanch when Amy said that they only wanted 300 jars of the mayonnaise. Luckily their faith in Jeff and Amy paid off in droves. Hunter & Gather orders helped see them through COVID when traditional eateries were all closed and he now makes all their condiments, with Hunter & Gather being his biggest customer.

 Before even launching, they faced problems.   They had come up with a brand name and had everything ready, labels printed and a social media following.  However, they received a legal notice that a US company declaring that the brand name could not be used (even though it was trade marked in the UK for Amy & Jeff).  Fighting it would have cost over £100,000 so they had no option but to change names and they came up with Hunter & Gather instead.   Once again, this was a challenge, but this time, because Amy’s family tree included the name Hunt and Jeff comes from a line of Gathergoods, this challenge failed.

Jeff and Amy launched their website in October 2017, and they bootstrapped the whole start-up process with savings, loans and even taking in lodgers while they both kept working to pay for the Hunter & Gather brand getting off the ground.  Amy shared their new website in a Paleo group on Facebook that was just starting up.   Almost immediately, they were dancing around their living room, celebrating their first order.

Their next big step was to show the Hunter & Gather brand at the Bread and Jam start-up festival.  This was in November, only a month after launch.  They pitched to Wholefoods, who decided to stock the products from the January.  Selfridges were next; then wholesalers took them to supply the independents, followed by Ocado.

However, some stores were more resistant.  Amy battled for two years to get Hunter & Gather listed with the northern chain, Booths.  They didn’t answer emails or calls.  Amy was sure they were a good fit, concluded that one of the main objections was geography.   Amy put together a map of the UK with pins to showcase the nationwide breadth of Hunter & Gather’s D2C customer base.  By giving the buyer a visual tool that they could share internally it helped overcome initial resistance, and a meeting and listing eventually followed.

Still, back in 2017, they had one fantastic moment when invited to take a stand at Food Matters Live and decided to enter the Awards under the category “Innovative Better for You Product of the Year.”   There was ridiculously stiff competition, but as some of the judges were from well-known retailers, they reckoned it would be good exposure.  They also decided to record it live on Instagram;  when, to their surprise, Hunter & Gather won, it was all recorded live.

They had joined the Grocery Accelerator by this time, which has since re-branded as Mission Ventures.  The Accelerator, co-founded by Simon Lacey of consultancy Shelf Ltd and Rob Ward, a fruit entrepreneur, gave them a small investment to help grow the brand, coaching, and a listing with Ocado.  Initially, this was in their innovation section, but Hunter & Gather health foods and supplements have gone mainstream in the supermarket since then.

They focus on the e-commerce side of the brand because they are still committed to their original goal of educating people, and sharing information and product details through the website and newsletters means that they can do that.  Around 70% of their orders come via e-commerce to this day.

Another early challenge came on Valentine’s Day.  They were having dinner, but Amy was still monitoring their social media, and they were flooded by customers opening jars of their mayonnaise and finding it looked horrible.  What had happened was a human error; the vinegar had been omitted from the recipe.   Amy says it was an awful time and felt like the end of the world.   Most urgent was to get the product tested and thankfully confirm that there were no possible ill-health effects.  They ordered a complete re-call, but then Amazon made an error and notified all their customers, not just those who had ordered that particular product, vastly amplifying the problem.

Amy and Jeff handled it the only way they knew how, with honesty and transparency.  They explained to everyone that it was human error, that there were no health issues involved, and spelled out the steps taken to ensure such an error would never happen again.  To their relief, sales levels remained the same.

Colossal Growth in a short time

Bootstrapping hasn’t held them back as they are set to achieve £6 million GSV in sales by their fourth year of business, paving the way for clean, natural, and healthy food and winning numerous awards in the process.  

The pandemic was positive for all e-commerce, with most shopping going online and increased business because of increased interest in health and wellness.  They sell overseas, shipping to the UEA, France, Germany, Spain, Czechoslovakia, and have kept wholesalers in each country post-Brexit.  They have plans to to expand across Europe, focus on key grocers, and break into the USA.   Their goal is to be the number one health food brand that all Western Societies trust.

Awards include ‘Best of British’ at Ocado’s Rising Stars Awards, celebrating Britain’s best independent food and drink brands.  In the same year, Amy & Jeff also achieved a place in the highly acclaimed 30 under 30 community, recognizing the world’s most impactful young entrepreneurs and game-changers.


 

 

If you are interested in good food and wine with a strong brand, you might enjoy the Mollydoocker story from Australia

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