Start-Up Stories – 5th Season
In this chapter of Start-Up Stories, we got some phenomenal insight around all things start-up life from the co-founder of 5th Season, Stuart Prescott. He gave his input on gaining listings, maintaining product quality, the food category and more…
What is 5th Season?
5th Season is a 100% fruit snacking brand based on the modern freeze-drying process. Our delicious fruit range currently consists of Whole Strawberries, Pineapple Chunks and a Fruit Salad Mix (Strawberries, Banana and Apple).
We have a simple mission – to get people eating more fruit and by doing so to tackle the issues of obesity and diseases associated with not achieving 5-a-day. We love fresh fruit but understand that it’s not always convenient to eat on-the-go when you have to consider seasonality, preparation, shelf life, refrigeration, need for cutlery and mess. We take all this away and offer “FRUIT WITHOUT THE FUSS!”
There are 4 key benefits of eating 5th Season freeze-dried fruit:
- We are only ever 100% fruit with nothing else added (no added sugar, fat, palm oil or additives here!)
- Our fruit retains its shape and doesn’t shrivel up like it does with traditional drying methods – our whole strawberries are still whole strawberries!
- The low processing temperature of freeze-drying means the fruit still has the look and taste of fresh fruit
- Most importantly it retains more nutrients than any other drying process. 90% of the nutrients are retained in pack for 18 months. This makes us the only real alternative to fresh fruit.
How have you found competing in your category?
“I’m not going to lie, it’s really tough! In the immediate fruit snacking category, we have to educate buyers and shoppers on the benefits of freeze-drying and why this is superior to any other method.”
We have a really exciting product range and find that once we have managed to convince consumers to try us for the 1st time, they are hooked.
We also can’t forget that we are also competing in the wider snacking category with includes crisps, confectionary, popcorn, energy balls, cereal bars and protein snacks. The challenge we face here is that a lot of these products are produced by huge FMCG companies and often made of cheap ingredients. The shopper then has a difficult decision to make as to whether they are going to buy a chocolate bar at 70p or invest in their health and buy a pack of 5th Season for £1.30. The good news is that snacks have become quite important in people’s diet and are now looking closer at what benefits snacks offer to avoid ‘empty calories’
How did you go about finding/starting relationships with suppliers? How do you manage them?
My background is in product development so finding suppliers, auditing them and managing the ongoing relationship is something that thankfully comes fairly easy to me. The power balance however is completely different to what I was used to from my time working in FMCG branded businesses. As a small start up business you realise that your volume is reasonably insignificant and therefore need to approach it from a different angle.
“It’s about getting suppliers bought into your vision so that they support you in the early days and then grow with your business”
I’m so thankful to be working with such amazing suppliers.
What’s the culture like at 5th Season?
The 5th Season team is just amazing! Personality fit is crucial in a small business where everyone works so closely. We are all so close and genuinely like each other. We all work remotely and are split across 2 countries (UK and NL). It’s amazing how close you can become to people even though we rarely get together face to face as a team.
What kind of person fits in well at a start-up business?
You don’t join a start up business for an easy life and a high salary. It’s about REALLY believing in the company ethos and what the product range has to offer. There is no room for hierarchy and big egos. You have to muck in, work hard and help each other out. Everyone has so much impact and influence in a small business that you feel every high and low. We support each other through challenges and celebrate every win as a team. You also have to be highly resilient as the early days are really tough – sometimes it’s like pushing water uphill! Although it’s a lot of hard work, it’s so rewarding and in life you get few opportunities to create something from scratch.
How do you maintain the quality from creation to customer?
Quality is a top priority for 5th Season as it’s what sets us apart from the competition. Being 100% fruit with nothing else added there is no where to hide. We have put in place strict quality processes throughout the entire supply chain; from only approving select fruit origins through to robust QA checks in production. We only work with suppliers that have global technical accreditation (BRC, FSSC) to give us confidence in their ability to consistently provide high quality product/services.
If you could give one piece of advice to other Consumer Goods entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Challenge every penny you spend! Whether this be the cost of your packaging, investing in marketing or travel expenses. Most start up businesses fail because they run out of money and therefore everything you spend has to have a ROI.
“The food industry is notoriously expensive and listing discussions take much longer than you expect. Don’t run out of money before you’ve had your time to shine!”
We’ve heard that 5th Season has a charity partnership, tell us more!
Yes, we have a partnership with Farm Africa where for every pack of 5th Season that we sell, we give 1p to support their amazing initiatives. In year 1 of our partnership we aim to raise a minimum of £8,000. So, by munching on 5th Season, it is not only good for your health but also supports farmers in Eastern Africa to sustainably increase their yields and grow their agricultural businesses, to support themselves and their families.
In 2018 Farm Africa reached 2.6m people. With the help of partnerships like ours they hope to reach over 3m in 2020. The aim is to reduce poverty in eastern Africa by helping farmers to grow more, sell more and sell for more. They work to grow agriculture, protect the environment and develop businesses in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and DR Congo.
Where can people find your amazing snacks?
The easiest place to get your hands on 5th Season in the UK is via our online web shop or Amazon. You can also find us in select Sainsbury’s stores and Revital Heath Stores. We are also sold through a number of independents so please check our website for your local stockist here. We will also be sharing some new and exciting stockists over the next few weeks so follow us on the socials to receive the latest updates @5thseasonfruit
What does the future hold for 5th Season?
Our focus is on building the 5th Season brand in our current UK and Netherlands markets with the exciting range and NPD innovation. We also plan to expand into other markets shortly so watch this space!
Be sure to check out their website here for all your snacking needs. We can’t wait to see where they are in a years’ time!