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Drinks giants back startup incubator scheme for black-owned FMCG brands

Published:  16 February, 2021

Pernod Ricard and Diageo have backed a new not-for-profit innovation accelerator founded to drive growth of black-owned brands within FMCG.

Launched this week, ADD Psalt said it would offer £46,000 worth of free support to develop innovation and go-to-market strategies to bring more diversity to the UK's food and drink industry. 

Backed by a slew of major UK supermarkets and blue chip companies, the new venture has been co-founded by former Mars UK grocery sales director, Sam Akinluyi, and former Nestle Beverages head of innovation, Lucy Smith. 

The duo said the accelerator would help bridge ethnic and socio-economic gaps amongst founder-led brands, with initial efforts focusing on black-owned businesses, followed by rollouts to other under-represented groups in FMCG thereafter.

Of over 7,000 food & beverage businesses, ADD Psalt said it had identified only two black-owned brands currently present at “relative scale” in multiple major retailers in the UK.

The goal, it said, was to secure more black-led brands into major national distribution, increasing current market share threefold in year one, rising to tenfold by year three. 

Founders will go through an 18-week brand and innovation programme with £46,000 worth of free expertise and support from leading FCMG brands and major retailers alike. 

After several months of development, brands will ultimately take part in an investor pitch day to help boost their onward business journey.

“We want to help create a wide range of exciting, innovative and scalable brands that appeal to millions of consumers, and for these brands to just so happen to be owned by black people,” said Akinluyi. 

By helping under-represented entrepreneurs turn their concepts into retail-ready, high growth brands, ADD Psalt would also actively improve the diversity of the industry, he added. 

“A broader and more inclusive on-shelf offering means retailers can appeal to more diverse shoppers, in turn boosting category and industry growth. This will have a major impact on entrepreneurial confidence. It will also make our industry more attractive to diverse talent. It’s win-win-win,” he said.

Supporting retail partners include Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Ocado.