The importance of a healthy eating habit cannot be over emphasized bearing in mind that whatever we take in through our mouth has a direct effect on our health. Hence, the birth of Britts Foods – a one stop-shop for delicious, fresh, ready-to-eat food that is healthy and good for the body. Britts Foods or
The importance of a healthy eating habit cannot be over emphasized bearing in mind that whatever we take in through our mouth has a direct effect on our health. Hence, the birth of Britts Foods – a one stop-shop for delicious, fresh, ready-to-eat food that is healthy and good for the body.
Britts Foods or Britts fresh foods, which was founded in 2015 by Belema Alagun – a Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneur, is a company that believes in greens and intends to build a true African brand committed to customer loyalty. Some of the fresh food supply include: A healthy variety of salads, Sandwiches and Smoothies.
Enterprise54 caught up with Belema, CEO and Founder of BrittsFoods and we got talking.
E54: Can we meet you?
I am Belema Alagun – the Yoruba girl with Rivers name. I think of myself as a colorful, energetic individual, passionate about looking for solutions and helping create social change in my community. My curiosity and constant willingness to question the ‘status-quo’ was one of the reasons why I started Britts Foods. My hobbies include food, having good conversations, reading and listening to inspiring life experiences and badminton. My background is in Law and having seen how almost impossible it is to live a healthy lifestyle in Nigeria; I decided to launch Britts Foods to create accessibility of healthy food options to working and busy individuals wishing to still maintain a healthy lifestyle.
E54: How did Britts Foods start?
Britts Foods essentially started from a personal need. I was struggling maintaining my weight in Nigeria due to the clear lack in the market for healthy options, and I was disturbed as to why no one else was attempting to resolve this problem. I was so determined to lose and maintain the lifestyle that I was accustomed to for so long that I began to make salads at home after work to take to lunch the next day. Whenever I would take my salad to work, colleagues would comment as to how yummy it looked and would ask to ‘taste’ it. This later progressed to offers to buy my lunch/salad. This experience mixed with my constant awareness and frustration at only finding unhealthy options resulted in me having what I call my ‘Eureka moment’ in December 2014.
After conducting research, it was obvious that there was a gap in the market for young busy working individuals who did not wish to spend their weekdays evenings or mornings making salads and it was obvious the reason why there was a gap in the market was because no one wanted to divert into ‘healthy fresh’ produce with the lack of infrastructure in Nigeria. By February 2015, Britts Foods was incorporated and by March 2015, Britts Foods started testing selling and delivery of salads in Lagos and through feedback from customers have fine-tuned its product over time.
E54: What are the challenges you’ve faced at the different stages of the business so far and how did you go about solving them?
We had various issues when Britts Foods was started – supply chain, human resources, lack of understanding of process and efficiency from farmers, pressure to grow. First, supply chain was inexistence. Logistics companies were quite expensive and unwilling to reduce prices until they had certainty as to guaranteed supply (which I unfortunately could not provide being a start-up). Also, our initial customers were unwilling to pay the difference in the price hike of their product as a result of adding a delivery fee. This was quite frustrating to say the least. I was able to do some deliveries personally myself for customers around Lekki or out of Lekki during off-peak periods when traffic was not much but this was clearly not a long term solution. Once it became obvious that I would burn out doing both delivery and cooking simultaneously, I invested from savings in our first bike and hired a delivery staff. This resolved greatly resolved my issue of sourcing for produce from farmers and also delivering Britts Foods salads to customers. Other challenges such as human resources and inefficiencies were more difficult and required patience, constant training of staff and vendors as to what my vision in this company was and setting processes.
E54: What measurable impact did the Tony Elumelu Foundation have on your business?
I essentially learned the mechanics of running a business and developed a reference library of materials to refer to as needed. From the importance of setting processes to structuring my business model, TEEP was quite useful. Also, TEEP funding also critical for purchasing some equipments required for Britts Foods, which is still supporting our growth today.
E54: How profitable would you say the fitfam food business is?
Just like every business, the fitfam business has its peaks and downside. The difference is to remain dedicated to your vision and stick with it. I believe if one remains truly focused, the challenges with your business will force you to either quit or structure your business such that it works for you.
E54: How expensive would you say it is to have a healthy eating habit?
Having a healthy eating habit is no doubt expensive but it does not have to be. Britts Foods uses targeted produce which are readily available in the Nigerian market, thereby promoting agriculture in Nigeria as well as giving customers a direct farm-to-fork freshness. This remains our mission – to keep innovating through always fresh produce. Being healthy is clearly not as cheap as eating rice. However, the way we see it is a matter of choice and lifestyle.
In the olden days, our great grandfathers had to be involved in activities which required demand for their body (e.g. farming, talking walks). However, now we wake up, get into our car, drive to work and then sit down for another maybe 7 hours, and expect to consume the same food? Our lifestyles are clearly different which is why people are becoming conscious as to what they consume and are willing to pay more to live a fuller, more productive and active lifestyle.
E54: What would you say is the greatest hindrance to fitfam: indiscipline, non-chalance or lack of money?
I think it is indiscipline and given the state of the economy, lack of money for now. However, we remain optimistic that through creating awareness on benefits of healthy lifestyle and educating Nigerians, we would gradually win this battle.
E54: If you were to say something about the need to imbibe a healthy eating habit, what would it be?
Think about the future ‘you’ and how you see yourself at that prime period – Do you see yourself as unhealthy, sloppy, worrying about health issues or do you see yourself as active, full of life, still productive…., and then decide.
E54: What lessons have you learnt so far especially as an entrepreneur?
One painful experience I learnt was the importance of being careful as to who you let into your vision and business. People unfortunately can either make or ruin your business.
My exciting experience has been watching how this idea in my head has become a business in my tiny 1 bedroom apartment, to a business in a store and hopefully, to the realization of my bigger vision.
E54: What are your future plans for Britts Foods?
The future of Britts Foods involves innovating even more and getting better and better at our product and serving Nigeria. We also plan to keep impacting on the proper cognitive growth of less-privileged children in Nigeria through the Britts Foundation.
Follow Britts Food on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and contact them to make your orders @BrittsFoods.