A dream trip to Bali was life changing for a vegan Cheshire businessman who returned home with a mission to convert Brits to the wonders of tempeh – a meat substitute he describes as ‘tofu’s much cooler younger brother.’
After watching Indonesian farmers ferment soy beans to create the protein packed super-food and sell it in banana leaves, Lawrence Hill returned home and launched Plant Power with a mission to introduce UK consumers to tempeh.
Despite only launching the brand ten months ago, Lawrence has already tasted success with products now stocked in Sainsburys, Boots, Bidfood and many other retailers.
After graduating from Nottingham Trent University with a degree in Business and Marketing, Lawrence began working in the food industry, selling products to gyms and fitness centres.
It was during this time he visited an abattoir – and what he saw resonated with him so much he immediately stopped eating meat. He couldn’t believe how disconnected he was from the food chain and mass meat farming. Within two weeks he had cut out animal products altogether.
His new lifestyle led him to launch a 100% vegan online supermarket, which became popular with thousands of plant-based fans.
Shortly after he embarked on the trip of a lifetime, visiting the Indonesian island Bali where he tried tempeh for the first time.
Tempeh is a traditional Indonesian soy product made from fermented soybeans, which, when compared to vegan favourite tofu, contains around double the amount of protein, approximately triple the amount of fibre, and boasts a surprisingly meat-y texture – so Lawrence couldn’t understand why it wasn’t readily available back in the UK.
At the time, tempeh was only available in small, obscure health shops, so when he got home, Lawrence decided to sell his existing business and start putting plans into place to create the UK’s first tempeh-focused vegan brand.
Partnering with a manufacturer who agreed to make products for Plant Power exclusively, Lawrence officially launched his company in January 2019, and within a couple of months had agreed to place its Original Tempeh block and tempeh curry flavoured pieces into over 350 Sainsbury’s stores around the UK.
More business wins followed, and Plant Power products are now available in Sainsbury’s, Boots, The Vegan Kind Supermarket, Mindful Chef and Bidfood.
Lawrence, from Altrincham, said: “The idea for the brand really began after my visit to Bali. I saw a gap in the market for a new and exciting meat substitute that we’ve since dubbed tofu’s cooler younger brother.
“Tempeh’s fermentation process and its retention of the whole soybean give it a higher content of protein, fibre, and vitamins than any other plant protein, so it’s really good for you and your gut. It’s the most natural and unprocessed plant protein in the world”
“Traditionally made in a banana leaf, we proudly make ours following the authentic Indonesian recipe, so it’s incredibly versatile yet easy to cook with, and tastes great in stir fries, curries and sandwiches.
“Since launching the original soybean tempeh block in March 2019, we’ve introduced chickpea and black bean tempeh blocks using the same ancient recipe, as well as curry flavoured tempeh pieces, sweet and smoky barbecue veggie ‘ribs’, and tempeh veggie bites which are perfect for on-the-go snacking.
“The veggie bites are available in the Boots meal deal in around 375 stores across the country and are proving to be a big hit in particular.”
The Plant Power team are looking to capitalise on the brand’s successful first year in business and are aiming for substantial growth in 2020 with sales set to exceed £1million.
Lawrence commented: “The last year has been quite the whirlwind and we’re now selling around 2,000 units a day on average, but the pace for the brand is only set to continue.
“We hope to secure substantial investment in the near future, which will inject the money and infrastructure we need to help the brand grow and scale quickly.
“Veganism and plant-based living is more popular than ever, but we really believe tempeh is going to be the next big plant protein.
“Years ago, tofu was viewed as a really obscure and unusual product but now it’s available in some version on virtually every vegan or vegetarian menu in the UK. We simply think tempeh deserves the same love!”