Mike Hill, co-founder of One Planet Pizza: Pizza with purpose
One Planet Pizza was the winner of the Favourite Vegan Ready Meal at the VegFest UK Awards 2021 and we can see why. It is pizza with purpose: which hopes to demonstrate that pizza can be delicious and sustainable. Mike Hill, one of the co-founders was kind enough to sit down with us and answer some questions.
V-Land UK (V-L): We saw that One Planet Pizza exhibited at the Natural & Organics Products Europe 2022 show in London? Do you feel that the tide is truly turning towards natural, organic, plant-based foods and that it is not a fad but a serious long-term trend?
Mike Hill (MH): Yes, this was the second time that we have attended NOPE, the first was three years ago and it’s amazing to see the changes over that time period. The part of the show dedicated to plant-based brands has doubled and the range of products has increased significantly as well. I think there is an increasing segment of the population that is making decisions about what they buy and use/eat based on health and sustainability factors.
V-L: What was it that sparked you to co-found One Planet Pizza?
MH: I have always loved cooking – pizzas in particular. Combine this with my long-term beliefs in the power of a plant-based diet, and it seems obvious that I would end up running a vegan pizza company! Six years ago my son and I were thinking about the fact we couldn’t get a good quality vegan pizza and so decided to make them ourselves, the rest is history as they say.
V-L: The other co-founder is your son Joe Hill, how has it been working together?
MH: Yes, we set up the business together 6 years ago now. It has been a great learning curve for both of us, I have more experience in running a business but Joe is closer to our demographic than me, and leads on marketing and new product development. Our skills are complementary and we are both good communicators and believe in delivering great customer service. I think we work well together but you had better check in with him as well!
V-L: How do you hope to change opinions around plant-based eating as fast as the esteemed Sir David Attenborough?
MH: The best way of changing people’s opinions about plant-based food is through creating great-tasting options and alternatives to traditional meat and dairy favourites. Pizzas are a great example of this, being one of the most popular fast foods in the world. The frozen pizza market in the UK alone is worth over £600m: if we can grab just 1% of that we have a large business that is making a real impact on the amount of meat and dairy being consumed and therefore on carbon emissions and other environmental impacts that the meat and dairy industry is responsible for. In addition, it’s important that people can afford plant-based alternatives, and we have been working hard to bring our selling price to below £4 per pizza.
V-L: How long did it take you to formulate the recipe, which you now hope is the best plant-based pizza in the world?
MH: We have continued to work tirelessly to improve our pizzas. Pizzas are a combination of 4 key elements – the base or crust, the sauce, the toppings and finally but not least the cheese, or cheeze as we call it! Our base took a few years to get right and changed from a medium crust to a thin crust about a year ago. The sauce is a family recipe that hasn’t changed since we started, with only five ingredients. Our toppings have been perfected until we have now ended up with a classic core range of the four most popular pizza flavours in the Western Hemisphere, and finally the cheeze is something that we helped develop ourselves with our cheeze producer. It is one of the best vegan cheezes out there, not just for the taste but also for the way it melts, and pulls and stretches when it is sliced.
V-L: How do you plan to become the number one plant-based pizza brand in the world?
MH: We have just launched in the UK in Asda, which is our first UK major supermarket listing, and this will mean we are available throughout the UK in over 500 retail outlets, from local independent health stores right through to a ‘big four’ supermarket listing. But some of our most exciting expansion is overseas, we are already available in over a dozen countries outside of the UK, but this is projected to increase to 20 by the end of the year. Even Australia is interested in taking our pizzas, we just need to work out the best way of getting them there!
V-L: Do you have any plans for new flavours and/or new product ranges in the future?
MH: We certainly do! We love new product development and have big plans for the next 12 months. Look out for the UK’s first vegan pizza pockets, as well as plant-based cheezy dough balls. In addition, we enjoy collaborating with other brands and celebrities to create ‘mash ups’ as we call them, which focuses on our own website for people to buy them and get delivered straight to their own door.
Visit One Planet Pizza to find out more or purchase some of their wonderful pizzas which are also available in over 500 independent stores and retailers across the UK: you can find out where they are located here. You can also follow them on Instagram.