Interview with Amy Moring, founder of Hunter & Gather

Find out how Hunter & Gather founders, long term coeliac sufferer Amy Moring and her partner Jeff, were inspired to launch a visionary food brand with a healthier living conscience that championed sublime flavours and ‘good’ nutrition.

What’s your career journey?

Being only 27 yet owning a 50% slice in a fledgling start-up means my career path is neither that long nor meandering. And yet I do believe that I’ve used my formative work years wisely.

My degree was actually in Equine Studies and Business Management which at the time seemed like a stroke of genius, combining my love of ‘all things horse’ with an infuriatingly inquisitive mind.

Whilst starting up my own business was always the ‘bigger’ plan, I knew it made sense to learn the ropes in a well-oiled ‘blue chip’ environment, which is exactly why Mars Foods resides on my CV.

More recently, I worked with one of the new breed of superior quality/healthier living dog food operations that placed a far greater onus on superior ingredients, nutritional depth and involving flavour profiles than a majority of more mainstream dog food brands that had gone before.  

It’s a sad truth that UK dogs, (1 in 3 of our four-legged friends is clinically obese) has suffered over the years as a result of cheaply assembled recipes and poor dietary choices. It’s the inevitable outcome of recipes being assembled around cost cutting and convenience as opposed to well-rounded flavours and nutritional wealth.

As a long-suffering coeliac sufferer of some 25 years, (I was diagnosed at a time when tasty free-from alternatives were in very short supply) I know only too well how a nation’s historically unhealthy obsession with cheap ‘filler’ grains can have such debilitating impact on a person’s happiness and health.

Jeff, my work/life partner had himself suffered throughout his childhood from his own poor diet ‘food demons’ (eczema, asthma, severe acne). Both of us were convinced that whatever brand we launched in the future, it had to be both game-changing and clean-deck/FODMAP friendly, a visionary brand with a healthier living conscience that championed sublime flavours and ‘good’ nutrition.

What was your Eureka moment?

Reformulation and reduced sugars have been rumbling noises in the condiments aisle for some while now as the ‘healthier eating’ movement gains momentum.  

The fact remains that too many of the major players never attempt to move the goalposts any further than they need to. Yes there have been positive strides with regards cutting sugar, salt and fat, but how much has really gone into improving taste, ingredient provenance, superior and radical, game-changing innovation.  

We were determined to bring meaningful choice to a historically meek and mild mayonnaise aisle that was working hard to topple ketchup as the number one side-plate accompaniment.

Today we offer a ‘lively’ Chipotle Chilli & Lime mayonnaise with a rich, well-rounded smokiness and unmistakable chilli twang OR a velvety smooth garlic and black pepper mayo for those who prefer rich, lingering flavours.  

We’ve even created an egg-free mayocado which cleverly combines pea protein with avocado to create a truly gastronomic, vegan-friendly alternative.

What does your big idea revolve around?

Our big idea revolves around creating everyday all-natural products that were 100% sympathetic to the needs of increasingly influential ‘food minorities,’ (coeliac, dairy-free, paleo, low carb/high fat eating regimes) without sacrificing our everyday essential /mainstream appeal because creating a flouncy, fringe or niche product is not something that interests us.

By creating brands with a healthy dis-respect for sugar, grains, harmful fats and synthetic nasties, we knew we were onto something rather special.

It goes without saying that our Cold-Pressed Virgin Avocado Oil (which is central to all we do) is our undisputed ‘hero’ product. Avocados are the shy yet richly admired ‘poster boy’ of the all-singing Clean 15 list; a nutrient-rich fruity feast bristling with oleic oil, folates and vitamins C,E,K and B6.

Our unerring commitment to simple, unfussy ingredient decks helps explain why every ingredient we choose needs to be uncompromisingly best-in-class (e.g. free range Vs powdered egg). If we believe that there’s a lazy ingredient that brings nothing to the party, we simply kick it into the long grass because we have no time for idle ‘passengers’.

What’s your USP?

As good as homemade!

How do you spread the word?

We cannot say enough good things about the humble avocado, that is finally being recognised for its amazing taste good (mono-saturated) fat make-up (counters bad cholesterol) which also contains mood improving folates, potassium and a clutch of highly prized vitamins.

While avocados are without doubt one of the best things you can put on toast, with eggs or within salads, food retailers are only just waking up to the fact that here is a fruit with untapped everyday appeal. Because, just like that most celebrated of gastronomic cooking oils, (olive), here is an oil pressed directly from the flesh of a fruit which ensures its overflowing with health-promoting goodness.

What’s your proudest moment?

With our brand custodian hats on we could talk about our healthy presence and escalating sales within retail outlets like Amazon, Wholefoods, Ocado  and Daylesford, a clutch of great taste/innovation awards, a healthy bottom line OR our burgeoning success within key ‘living economies’ overseas (Germany, Iceland, Slovenia and UAE, (with more to be announced soon).

However what really gives us our biggest buzz is the ongoing opportunity to work with our aspirational farmer’s co-operative in Kenya, which we eagerly adopted over any intensive farming monolith.

Early on in our adventure we learnt that vast numbers of avocados are being misguidedly discarded by a number of the more intensive farming operations, simply on account that so-called ‘wonky fruit’ (misshapen, discoloured or the wrong size) is seen as irreparably damaged by short-sighted supermarkets.  

Ironically none of these ‘aesthetic irrelevances’ have any impact whatsoever on the sublime oils contained within.

What’s your best piece of business advice?

It may have been coined by a leading sportswear brand already, but just getting on and doing it as an innovative start up really is important. You can go around and round on an idea for years and yes, it is important to get the basics right, but ultimately you learn most through doing.

So, jump in, try, tweak, try again. If you are 100% happy with your idea, logo, packaging etc before launching – you are too late to launch.

You can learn more about Hunter & Gather on their website.