Mayor backs pilot to boost jobs & growth in small food business sector

10 June 2013

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is backing an innovative new programme to support London’s small food businesses, helping to create more jobs in this vibrant sector and regenerate the capital’s high streets.


London’s food sector is worth a massive £17bn with small and medium food businesses providing the majority of the industry's 300,000 jobs.


The capital has also seen a resurgence of interest in smaller, local food producers and retailers working with a strong community ethos.


The new six-month pilot, developed by the Mayor’s food advisor, Rosie Boycott, is seeking to help small social enterprises expand into larger profitable businesses, creating jobs and adding to the diversity of the capital's food sector.


The aim is to develop 'best practice' and explore funding models for the independent food sector to help more businesses of this type prosper.


The pilot will be delivered in partnership with leading charitable organisation the Plunkett Foundation, working with the well-established food network London Food Link. The Plunkett Foundation will work with four small food businesses to help them expand with each working towards providing 10 or more people with jobs, training or apprenticeship opportunities over this period.


The businesses will be offered expert advice with the option of low-cost finance from Triodos Bank, a bank that is committed to working with ethical enterprises that promote social, cultural and environmental change. The results of the trial will be used to design future phases of the Greater London Authority project with the aim of growing the number of London’s community-run food businesses.


The pilot aims to demonstrate that innovative food businesses can be profitable, while also striving to regenerate high streets and improving access to healthy, affordable, locally produced food.


The organisations taking part in the pilot are:

• KERB – a street food organisation based in King’s Cross. Taking part in the trial will enable KERB to launch a new Saturday market (KERB Saturdays) to reach new customers.

• Unpackaged – a high street shop, community café and food hub in Hackney providing organic food and other products in reusable containers. Support from the pilot will help Unpackaged reach out into their local community and local groups for disadvantaged people.

• Field to Fork Organics Co-operative – a community-run fruit and veg box scheme run on the successful ‘Growing Communities’ model, which will buy fresh organic products directly from local farmers and community food growers and sell them at an affordable price to customers via cafés, schools and independent shops located in north-west London.

• Cultivate London – A horticultural social enterprise which operates a number of innovative urban farms based across formerly disused sites in West London, offering horticultural training to young people aged 16-24.


The pilot is providing support to renovate and prepare much-needed growing space.


The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "From urban farms to bustling street markets, London’s food scene is one of the most diverse and exciting in the world. I am pleased to support Rosie's initiative seeking to fuse Londoners' passion for food with their entrepreneurial spirit to show that it’s possible to cook up an idea that doesn’t just result in something tasty to eat, but that gets people into our town centres, into employment and delivers wider community benefits to boot."


Rosie Boycott, the Mayor’s Food Advisor and Chair of the London Food Board, said: "The capital’s food sector is a vital and vibrant part of London life. Increasingly people are seeing it as a great way to convert a personal passion into a thriving businesses not just to make money, but to improve their communities as well. We want to show that these enterprises can deliver economic and social benefits. The organisations we’ve selected are already doing some amazing work bringing great food to Londoners and this pilot will give them the support they need to expand their operations and take what they do to the next level."


Peter Couchman, Chief Executive of the Plunkett Foundation, said: “The Plunkett Foundation is delighted to be working with the Mayor and Rosie to help food enterprises in London. This is an excellent opportunity to support these four enterprises to develop robust businesses that meet the needs of their local communities and to then act as an inspiration for others in their community to do the same."


Ian Price, food, farming and trade manager at leading ethical and sustainable bank Triodos, said: "At Triodos Bank our mission is to make money work for positive social, environmental and cultural change, so we only finance businesses – for example in the food or community sector – that can demonstrate a positive impact on the environment and society. We believe community-based food solutions in an urban or city environment, just like these, are key to a more sustainable future for us all. We are delighted to be involved with this pilot and our experience shows that successful and viable social businesses can and will be mainstream and a model for others to follow in the capital." 

Notes to editors

This project has been launched as part of the implementation of the Mayor’s ‘London Food Strategy’ to show how food businesses that are engaging their local community into their operations can be a powerful generator of jobs, skill development and economic growth in the capital. The aim of the project is to demonstrate the inspiring and vital role the food sector can play in achieving social and economic benefits for the capital. It is expected that the first phase will be evaluated in October.


For pictures or to arrange interviews with any of the pilots taking part, please use the contact information below, or send an email to [email protected] 


About The Plunkett Foundation:

The Plunkett Foundation campaigns for community-ownership in rural areas. Plunkett is the only national body supporting the network of over 300 community-owned shops as well as a range of co-operative and community enterprises. Through the GLA’s work to regenerate food businesses, Plunkett will be sharing their expertise and knowledge to help these four enterprises to develop robust businesses that meets the needs of their local communities.


About London Food Link:

Run by the national food and farming charity Sustain, London Food Link sits on the London Food Board chaired by Rosie Boycott and helps to implement the Mayor’s London Food Strategy through a range of projects such as the Ethical Eats network for sustainable caterers; Urban Food Week run in September to promote the capital’s local and community food businesses; and Capital Growth, the food growing network for London.


About Triodos Bank:

Triodos Bank only finances enterprises which create social, environmental or cultural added value. Key sectors include organic food and farming, renewable energy, social housing, and fair trade. Transparency is a core value and Triodos publishes details of every business it lends to. A range of personal savings accounts is offered, and full banking services are available for businesses and charities. Triodos Bank is an independent bank founded in the Netherlands in 1980. Its principles and independence are protected through a special shareholding trust. The UK office opened in 1995 and is based in Bristol. Triodos Bank offers a range of personal savings accounts as well as other investment opportunities.


About the pilots:

KERB’s mission is ‘making cities taste better’ – they do this by setting up markets and events that showcase their community of members (KERBanists) and making the streets of London more delicious, accessible and enjoyable for all. London needs this – it gives it more personality and shows its citizens just what is so great about its cooking from the kerb up. The Mayor’s London Food Businesses project will enable KERB to launch a new Saturday market that reaches out to new customers and involve new traders in a departure from their weekday lunchtime markets. They plan to connect with Camden’s Global Generators to encourage young food entrepreneurs; and with hyper-local growers and producers to establish new links in King’s Cross between food, community and a fun day out. Visit

Petra Barran, Founder, Kerb, said: “We’re really excited about bringing some KERBaciousness to Saturdays with the help of the Mayor’s funding. Granary Square is an enormous space that deserves to be filled with great people cooking and selling great food for all those people who live nearby and who love what KERB does. This is a Saturday market, KERB-style – hold tight!” Unpackaged has a vision of a world without unnecessary packaging. It has been selling organic food and environmentally friendly household and bodycare products in reusable containers since 2007 and in December 2012 moved to a new location in Hackney, adding a sustainable café & evening bar to the business. The support from the Mayor’s London Food Businesses Pilot comes just at the right time to help


Unpackaged reach out into their community at their new location. Unpackaged plan to involve local groups for disadvantaged people in training schemes, run a series of community focused events and network with other local food and community led businesses during the course of the project. Visit

Catherine Conway, Founder of Unpackaged, said: “We're thrilled to be part of this project and show how innovative, sustainable and community focused business can survive and thrive. Who said the high street was dead?”


Cultivate London is a horticultural social enterprise which operates a number of innovative urban farms based across formerly disused sites in West London. They run youth training in practical horticulture via volunteer traineeships and paid apprenticeships and aim to create jobs for unemployed young people aged 16-24, whilst converting derelict and vacant land across London into productive food growing space. The produce is sold locally, providing a rare source of local organic food and plants for Londoners. The London Food Businesses Pilot is providing specialised business support to Cultivate London and helping with funding to renovate and prepare some badly needed growing space just off Brentford High Street in Hounslow. Visit

Adrienne Attorp, General Manager, Cultivate London, said: “The Cultivate London team is delighted to be working with the support of both the Mayor and the Plunkett Foundation. It is enabling us to expand operations and work with more London youth while providing more London-grown produce to Londoners across the city.”


Field to Fork Organics Co-op is a not-for-profit vegetable box scheme supported by the Growing Communities Start-up programme ( It will buy fresh organic products directly from local farmers and sell them at an affordable price to customers via cafés, schools and independent shops located in North-West London. Field to Fork will also cultivate its own urban patchwork farm in order to supply salads and herbs to the vegetable box. The London Food Businesses Pilot has provided start-up capital as well as business support to Field to Fork such as marketing and infrastructure. Field to Fork needed swiftly to build the business for their launch on July 4th 2013.


Miko Adam-Kando, one of the founding members of Field to Fork Organics Co-operative, said: “Without the help of the Food High Streets Project, we wouldn’t have been able to launch Field to Fork so quickly. It also makes us feel more confident about our capacity to grow the business over the next twelve months and beyond.”