Meet Martin Holden-White, the mind behind the UK’s first 100% plant-based recipe box subscription service on a mission to make plant-based cooking more accessible and convenient without costing the earth.
Grubby is the brainchild of Martin Holden-White, who struggled when first venturing into a plant-based diet due to the challenges of finding speciality ingredients in supermarkets, dishes lacking flavour and online recipes being too complex. Since its 2019 launch, Grubby has delivered over 100,000 plant-based meals. The Grubby app allows subscribers to choose from over 50 recipes, delivered to their door with fresh, pre-measured ingredients needed to cook two or three healthy plant-based meals each week.
In 2021, Grubby received the government Innovate UK grant for its ambitions in sustainable innovation, which allowed the company to tackle the challenges faced during the first UK wide lockdown and extend its first crowdfunding period. That same year, Grubby closed their first crowdfunding campaign raising £1.2 million, exceeding its initial target of £720,000.
The round marked a win for the vegan delivery kit company, attracting a group of reputable angel investors, including Bonamy Grimes, founder of Skyscanner and Jonathan Quinn, CEO of WorldFirst.
The funding allowed Grubby to accelerate nationwide expansion plans by building relationships with British suppliers, partnering with family-run business Watt’s Farm; growers, packers and distributors of fresh produce, farming over 600 hectares of land across ten farms in Kent and Essex. The partnership helped Grubby consolidate all supplies by linking with other European suppliers. It also allowed the business to enhance its digital app and website experience, increasing usability and speed.
With a company focus on sustainability and social responsibility, the funds will also be used to expand existing efforts to reduce carbon emissions by delivering meal kits via bicycle. Currently, all London deliveries are made via bicycle with plans to grow bicycle deliveries in more cities.
Founder Martin Holden-White said: “Grubby has grown over 500% in weekly revenue since this time last year, reflecting the demand for tasty vegan meals as people look to be more sustainable with their eating habits. We’re thrilled to have raised this capital from a brilliant group of investors who are backing our mission to enliven the plant-based cooking experience without compromising on social responsibility. There has been a 400% increase in people moving to a plant-based diet in the last five years (2014-19), which shows no signs of slowing. Demand for food delivery kits, particularly plant-based meal kits, is at an all-time high. We aim to take market share with ‘conscious consumers’ looking for something new.”
This month, Grubby submitted its impact assessment and application to become a certified B-corp business to support its missions further to create a sustainable food system. Martin comments, “The big challenge with trying to be sustainable is the green premium – the toss-up between being green and it costing a lot of money. People will not necessarily appreciate the effort that goes into being green, like using more sustainable packaging, because they don’t necessarily see the value. Still, ultimately someone has to cover that cost, and it’s usually the company.
It goes back to suppliers. Using sustainable products and packaging can be difficult because you have to buy in larger quantities, and they’re often more bespoke. It can require a lot of research to check that specific packaging will work with fresh food and different food types. Striving for B-corp status keeps us accountable when thinking about ways to scale the business by addressing issues around sustainability, single-use plastic, packaging and carbon emissions directly at the source. Our packaging is 100% recyclable, compostable, ethically sourced, and produced in the UK in 95% of cases. We’re working to become a completely plastic-free business by 2023. We also work with food waste partners and local food banks to ensure that no grub goes unused.”
As well as focusing on sustainability efforts, Grubby has donated over 15,000 meals as part of their work with Uganda based charity 1moreChild, donating a meal to a child in poverty for every Grubby box delivered. In 2020, Grubby also provided over 1,000 meals to London NHS hospitals. Martin says, “Our work with 1morechild was always an important part of our business. Alongside being plant-based and people eating more sustainably and healthily, we’re trying to make an impact in another way. At university, I did a project around social enterprise and how businesses can be a force for good. Grubby isn’t a social enterprise, but we want to fall into the category of businesses that makes social change ethically and responsibly. One of our goals is to deliver a million meals to children in poverty, and we’re delighted to have donated over 10,000 meals in our first year.”
Bonamy Grimes, Founder of Skyscanner, said: “The growth of Grubby since its launch has been very strong. It’s clear that people are becoming increasingly focused on how they can live more sustainably, and eating more plant-based meals is one significant way to do this. Grubby has a great team and a well-loved product and I’m delighted to be a part of their journey.”
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Grubby is the UK’s first 100% plant-based recipe kit on a mission to make plant-based cooking more accessible and convenient without costing the earth. With suppliers based in Kent, Essex and Bedfordshire, Grubby support and partner with a family-run farm in the UK with most fresh produce grown in the South East on organic land. Packaging is fully recyclable, and boxes are delivered by bike wherever possible to minimise c02 emissions.
In 2020, Grubby received an Innovate UK sustainable grant from the government following a series of applications highlighting Grubby’s innovations with sustainability and tech solutions.
In 2021, Grubby also closed a crowdfunding campaign, raising over £1 million, alongside angel investment from Bonamy Grimes, founder of SkyScanner and Jonathan Quinn, CEO of WorldFirst