The young company, which makes what it calls ‘intensely delicious bar snacks that pair beautifully with a drink’, has just teamed up Lincolnshire-based premium crisps brand Pipers.
The tie-up will see Made For Drink’s award-winning Chorizo Thins and Mangalitza Salami Chips available via Pipers Crisps’ fleet of vans, which supply the UK’s independent food scene such as pubs, delis, garden centres, hotels, coffee emporiums and farm shops.
The national listing will see Made For Drink distributed across all of Pipers’ network.
Start-up food makers and challenger brands have shaken up the food industry thanks to their close relationship with rapidly emerging consumer demands. Small disruptive brands are challenging the bigger brands by offering what the big brands cannot. They are agile, authentic and can stay ahead of new trends such as localisation.
Featherstone was inspired to launch his premium snack brand in response to the pub revolution witnessed in the UK over the last decade. He believes he’s tapping into the divergence and fragmentation in the food and beverage sector.
Fewer pubs are in existence, he said, but they offer a better range of products.
“You walk into any decent pub and the craft beers, boutique spirits and interesting wines on offer are boundless, all presented beautifully and served by somebody who really cares about their profession.
“So when it came to snacks, why was there still just a pack of dusty crisps served from a cut out cardboard box? Don't get me wrong, two pints of lager and a packet of crisps is a fail-safe combo, but sometimes you just want something a bit more special.”
Better snacks come at a higher price – Made For Drink’s have a recommended retail price of £2.50 – but Featherstone insisted there is demand for premium products.
“I think people are looking for better food, and that’s been happening for at least 10 years,” he said. “You see that in the supermarkets. I see that when I go and watch a rugby match. People are also much more interested in where their food comes from and I thought that had not quite translated into packaged snacks. I always thought that a deli offering in a pub would be fantastic thing. Like Spanish tapas packaged up.”
Consumers are seeking ‘transparency and authenticity’
Made For Drink, which already has a presence in 15 pubs and food shops including Waitrose and Rick Stein’s The Cornish Arms, hopes to grow significantly with the Pipers tie-up.
What’s key for Featherstone, who quit his job as a marketing manager in the wine industry to pursue his dream, is the company’s shared, unique, identity. He believes Pipers’ dedication to quality, taste and provenance fits perfectly with Made for Drink’s mission to create exceptional products inspired by different food and drink traditions from around the globe.
“Pipers Crisps has been a target partner for almost two years. They were in all those good pubs we wanted to be in,” he said. Despite its recent purchase by big food’s PepsiCo it retains its ethos as a unique brand of proudly producing artisan, handmade crisps.
“Off the back of an exceptional product, Pipers has built a pioneering business supplying many of our target customers: top end pubs, bars, hotels, delis and specialist retail. For Pipers to now be offering Made For Drink products alongside their own crisps and snacks is a significant moment for our little business.”
Next up for Made For Drink is plans to launch in the US, where meat snacks are very popular and where there has been similar brewing renaissance and shift in consumer taste towards artisan food. He also hopes to capitalise on a growing trend of fermentation among wholefood customers in the US.