In this episode I interview Adrian Ling, managing director of Plamil Foods, which has been manufacturing vegan food products in the UK since the 1960s.
Plamil was the first company in Europe to produce dairy-free milk and later the first to make dairy-free chocolate. Committed to making products that are good for animals, people and planet, the company has a comprehensive environmental and ethics policy.
A lifelong vegan, Adrian has spent over 30 years in the food industry. His father, Arthur Ling, went vegan in 1927, before the term was even coined almost 20 years later.
Having joined Plamil when it had just four employees, Adrian has grown the company and product range from the original food canning line, to a 24-hour operation with almost 50 staff and an extensive range of confectionary and condiment products which sell to retailers and manufacturers worldwide. The most recent launch is the So Free range of chocolate and snack bars.
Nicknamed the ‘British Willy Wonka’ because he literally has his own chocolate factory, Adrian oversees production at the company’s dedicated vegan manufacturing plant, which is run on 100 percent renewable energy, in Folkestone, England.
He spent a number of years on the UK Vegan Society council and has made presentations at a number of food expos and chocolate conferences. Recently nominated as a ‘Free from Superhero’ in 2017, Adrian’s knowledge and experience of managing a specialist food business, new product development and his ‘nuts and bolts’ knowledge of many production lines enables him to provide a unique insight into vegan food standards and production.
In this interview Adrian talks about:
• Why the company manufactures other brands’ products that will compete on the shelf with Plamil
• Why Plamil created its own vegan-certified trademark which it also licenses to other brands
• The potential impact of Brexit on vegan businesses
• What to take into account when seeking international distribution for your product
• The downsides of animal product companies buying vegan brands
• The importance of innovating and keeping up with changing markets and trends
• And much more
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