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Four brands that entered retail through incubator schemes


Incubated by: The Co-op

The UK throws away around 9.5 million tonnes of food every year, according to waste charity Wrap. Crisp brand Scrapples is on a mission to change that, making use of wonky fruit that would otherwise be thrown away to produce healthy fruit variations on the classic fried potato format.

Its range of apple, apple & mango and apple & strawberry crisps are pure fruit and contain no added sugar, salt or fat. It’s an approach that won Scrapples space on the Co-op’s shelves last September, coming under the retailer’s values-led incubator scheme The Apiary.


Raise Snacks

Incubated by: Sainsbury’s

Raise promises “edible elevation” with its range of snack packs made up of nuts, seeds and sweet morsels. Available in Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt, Dark Chocolate & Orange, Maple Pecan and Caramel Sea Salt flavours, each 35g portion provides “protein, fibre and antioxidants to get your body and mind working in order”, the brand says.

Raise was one of nine brands to win a £20k grant, training and shelf space in February as part of the recently launched Sainsbury’s Thrive scheme, which supports black entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.

x12 Box Urban Legend doughnuts

Urban Legend

Incubated by: Mission Ventures

 Non-HFSS doughnut-focused brand Urban Legend scored its first supermarket listing last August, when a selection of its filled and ring doughnuts rolled into Tesco outlets across London.

The brand – founded by former Graze CEO Anthony Fletcher in 2021 – was one of 13 healthier snack brands that went through Mission Ventures’ accelerator scheme The Good Food Programme. In November 2022, it managed to secure high-profile investment from England football captain Harry Kane, who had previously invested in gut health brand Bio&Me.

Rogue RangeShot_front


Incubated by: Asda

Not all brands that win spots on incubator programmes go the distance. One contender forced to drop out of the race is spreads and cereals brand Rogue, which folded in October.

That was only six months after two of its cocktail-inspired marmalades rolled into Asda as part of the retailer’s Nurture Brands incubator scheme. Asda said it withdrew the listing based on sales and customer feedback. The delisting was one of the factors cited by Rogue founder Asher Flowers in its insolvency, along with rising costs and lack of access to funds.


What do the incubator schemes offer?

The Good Food Programme

Launched: August 2022

Backed by: Mission Ventures and Impact on Urban Health

Last summer, Mission Ventures teamed up with non-profit organisation Impact on Urban Health to launch The Good Food Programme. The aim is to provide funding and support for UK or EU food and drink startups that have developed or are developing healthier alternatives to products already on shelves.

In December, the scheme welcomed its first cohort: instant soup brand Soul Soup Co, kids’ food brand Nana’s Manners and plant-based milk brand Three Robins. It provides £15k of equity-free funding and two years of practical and business support.


The Apiary

Launched: February 2022

Backed by: The Co-op

Two waves of brands have hit Co-op shelves since this incubator for “value-led, exciting and innovative” startups was launched. The retailer says the scheme enables it to “quickly anticipate and respond to changing consumer tastes and needs” and provides “insight, guidance, technical knowledge to enable smaller-scale producers to accelerate towards a listing in store”.

Businesses that have won places on the scheme include peanut butter snack brand Superfoodio, fruit crisp brand Scrapples and Wonky Food Co, which makes relishes from surplus fruit & veg.


Add Psalt

Launched: February 2021

Backed by: Sam Akinluyi and Lucy Smith

This not-for-profit scheme was launched by Sam Akinluyi, previously a Mars grocery sales director, and Lucy Smith, former Nescafé UKI head of innovation. The aim is to “secure more black-led brands into major national distribution”.

Those that win a place on the 18-week programme gain access to an advisory board with figures from Coca-Cola, Diageo, Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Ocado and receive guidance on brand and product development, supply chains and pitching. Among the brands involved are Matugga.


Booths Accelerator Scheme

Launched: June 2022

Backed by: Booths

Four-fifths of food and drink startups feel they don’t get enough support from the industry when they’re starting out, said Booths MD Nigel Murray, as he launched the retailer’s accelerator scheme last year.

This programme sets out to address the issue by offering selected entrants the chance to pitch their ideas to the Booths executive team. Winners receive technical, manufacturing and business support to help grow their business. The Morecambe Bay Chowder Co (pictured) was announced as the scheme’s inaugural winner in December.

The healthy snack incubator: category report 2023