At the age of 24, Kent’s Young Food and Farming Entrepreneur of 2016, Alexandra Auger, managing director of The Juice Executive and Think Press Juice range, is already planning the next phase of business growth and development.
On a visit to Alexandra’s bespoke production facility in Chatham, Kent, I’m greeted with the fragrance of fresh limes. So popular are the 180 different lines of juice they make, Alexandra has just acquired the unit next door, to double their space.
Alexandra Auger said: “Running a business can be lonely. When I entered the Taste of Kent, Young Food & Farming Entrepreneur Award I wasn’t expecting to win. It makes you take a step back and realise that other people in the industry and in business appreciate you. I’ve now got more confidence because as a young entrepreneur, you don’t know how you are doing or recognise your own achievements.”
Alexandra set up her business after a trip to Indonesia opened her eyes to the interest in healthy, cold pressed juice using seasonal and organic fruit and vegetables.
“In May 2014 age 22, I left my job in London and went travelling for three months to Indonesia. Health is a really big deal there and people were spending a lot of money on cold pressed juice.”
“I knew this type of juice wasn’t easily accessible in the UK and certainly not to the standard I wanted to make. I started making it in my parent’s garage but very quickly realised it wasn’t a sustainable business with just me on my own.”
With the initial investment from family and friends and through contacts Alexandra made, she began finding stockists in London and selling direct and online. Alexandra’s team has grown to 15 and they work six days per week distributing directly to customers via their own website and the Think Press range and through a white label service to other businesses, distributing via Ocado and direct.
The team also celebrated achieving SALSA and Soil Association certifications within their first year of operating, to meet the organic standards of their clients.
So what next for the business? Alexandra continues: “White label is the real growth area and I would like to be able to source more organic ingredients directly from farms in the UK. I would also like to find a more sustainable use for our fruit and veg waste. We generate 10 tonnes per fortnight of organic matter which is not contaminated in any way, so we are looking for uses for that.”
Could you be the Taste of Kent Young Food and Farming Entrepreneur 2017?
Nominations are now open for the Taste of Kent Awards Young Food and Farming Entrepreneur Award. Nominations can be made by the individual or someone wishing to put them forward and the entry form can be found at www.tasteofkentawards.co.uk
The nomination should explain how the individual has made a contribution to an existing business or built a new one, anywhere in Kent, or what they have done within their part of the food chain.
The applicants will be shortlisted once voting closes on 3 January 2017 and then the finalists will be judged by a prestigious panel with representatives from Kent Foundation, The Princes Trust and award sponsors Create with Impact and South East Farmer magazine.
Produced in Kent’s Stephanie Durling comments: “Last year was the first year that this award was given and it was very well received. The award attracted many entries from innovative and hard-working young people from across Kent, so we have high expectations for this year’s nominations. This award is about identifying a young person like Alexandra Auger, who can also inspire others.”
Jamie McGrorty, director at South East Farmer sponsor of the 2017 Food & Farming Entrepreneur award said: “Being able to innovate is often the only way that farming families stay in farming. History proves this true when you see that it is the companies that have changed with the times that stand the test of time itself. At South East Farmer magazine we feel it is important for us to be sponsoring the Food & Farming Entrepreneur award. We look forward to reporting on the candidates and the eventual winners in 2017!”