Move Over Popcorn - We're Snacking On Plant Pops
Anushi Desai, co-founder of Plant Pops, a popped lotus seeds snack brand. They're snacks that are good for you, the environment and the communities that create them. We love Plant Pops for its variety in flavours and its traditional brand inspiration!
Can you tell us about your brand? At Plant Pops, we create snacks that are good for you, the environment and the communities that create them. We create delicious, award-winning snacks from different ancient grains and seeds. We use ingredients that have been eaten for centuries, but somehow seem to have been forgotten by the modern world. We put our own twist on them and use familiar flavours to make delicious snacks! We’ve kicked off with an initial range of Popped Lotus Seeds inspired by my childhood growing up in India.
We love that sentiment. So, tell us the story behind your branding? Plant-based is at the heart of everything we do, and we wanted to reflect this in our name - Plant Pops. We also wanted to ensure our name was really inclusive. Our branding reflects our flavours and we looked to make this inclusive as well. The colours are clean, bright and reflect our strong flavours as well as the lightness of the product.
What are your brand values? Snacks that are good for you, the environment and the communities that create them. It’s all good for you: our snacks are under 99 calories a bag, with less fat than crisps and contain nothing artificial. It’s good for the environment: our seeds are sustainably harvested, and we don’t use any palm oil, ever. It’s also good for the communities that create them: we donate a portion of our profits to Action Village India, a charity that works in Bihar, Northern India (where we source our lotus seeds from) to support farmers and their families.
Who influences and inspires you and your brand? I’ve been really lucky to always have had fantastic female role models in my life and have a wonderful mentor who inspires me heavily and I lean on her for support and guidance. I would encourage everyone starting a business to reach out to someone who has done it before and ask them to become a mentor - they’re an invaluable resource and source of support.
Tell us about your family inspiration behind the lotus seeds? I grew up in Mumbai, where popped lotus seeds are eaten all the time! I would make them at home with my grandmother. When my parents moved to London, we continued to eat them, they were a really familiar snack for me. I was so surprised when none of my colleagues had even heard of it when I brought them in as work snacks! Traditionally, when cooked at home, they’re made in ghee (or clarified butter) with lots of different spices - we’ve reinvented them with really familiar flavours, and we roast all our lotus seeds in olive oil.
The Future of Food | Plant Pops
Plant Pops are vegan and gluten-free, sustainably grown and made with no palm oil. We’re intrigued as to how these snacks fit into the future of snack food and the health industry, so we spoke to Anushi about her views.
Can you tell us more about creating your product? We source our lotus seeds from Northern India, and it is important to us to keep production in India too. Popped lotus seeds, or makhana, have been eaten there for centuries and they have so much skill and experience making the product that it felt most natural to produce our final goods there. It also felt authentic to the story of the snack and how I first experienced it.
How did you go about perfecting the recipe? For our initial range, we actually trialled about 14 different flavours, a combination of sweet and savoury and we sampled across hundreds of people, getting as much feedback from them as possible. Ash and I both love numbers so we asked everyone to fill out a survey form, loaded it all up into a spreadsheet with both quantitative and qualitative data and took it from there! We knew we definitely wanted a range of both sweet and savoury in our three-strong line-up and we wanted to go with flavours that people were familiar with, knew and loved. Managing an overseas supply chain is not without its challenges, we still face them now - especially during COVID! However, we’re getting into a rhythm, learning to forecast better and ensuring our snacks are always in stock for whoever would like them.
Can you talk to us about plant-based products and the future of the health food industry? Plant-based is at the heart of everything we do, so it was really important to incorporate this into our brand. Consumers are looking for food that takes them on a travel adventure, that evokes a sense of emotion / inspiration and we believe that really great food products can do just that. I think no palm oil should be the status quo - and I would love to see more products be palm oil free. I’ve always been vegetarian but am much more plant-based nowadays and definitely see this reflected in our products and our brand more widely.