A brand of healthier doughnuts launched by former Graze CEO Anthony Fletcher has secured £3m as the company behind the snacks seeks to tackle the UK’s obesity crisis.
Urban Legend is the first brand to be launched by Fletcher’s Believe in Science, which combines scientific research with new technology in a bid to significantly reduce the fat and sugar contents in bakery products.
The seed funding for the HFSS-compliant doughnut maker was raised from a range of venture capitalists, health charities and angel investors, with the money going towards the work done by the “cutting-edge test lab” to create products “indistinguishable from sugar-laden peers”.
Launched during the summer, the Urban Legend range of doughnuts contain no artificial preservatives, colours or flavourings and come in at fewer than 160 calories each, with at least 50% less sugar and fat than rival products, according to the company.
The doughnuts are steamed rather than deep fried, with a micro layer of fat applied to the outside, reducing the amount of saturated fat in the product.
Fletcher, who oversaw the £150m sale of Graze to Unilever in 2019, said the responsibility of changing eating habits could not solely lie with the consumer.
“As an industry, we need to work more closely with the science and healthcare communities to reformulate the way products are made, making them healthier without compromising on taste,” he added.
“Urban Legend is proof junk food doesn’t have to be full of junk, and we are thrilled to have secured the support of so many investors who share our cause and realise the importance of disruption through science.”
Urban Legend doughnuts are available to buy from the company’s new store in Brighton – and will also be available on Uber Eats and Deliveroo in the near future.
The business is also in discussions with retailers looking to prepare for HFSS regulations.
The seed funding round was led by VC firm Eka, which invests in consumer companies developing products or services that have a positive impact on the consumer and planet. The Good Food Fund also joined the round, alongside JamJar Investments, the venture capitalist fund led by the founders of Innocent Drinks, and Samos Investments. Angel investors included Clive Schlee, former CEO of Pret a Manger, Jamie Mitchell, Will Neale and Chris Britton.
Camilla Dolan, founding partner at Eka Ventures, said: “Eka is delighted to be partnering with Anthony on his mission to reduce the sugar and fat in the bakery industry through science-led research and development.
“Eka is focused on investing in founders creating positive system change and sees Believe in Science as a fantastic example of how an ambitious founder can improve our food system to reduce its negative impact on health in some of the most vulnerable demographics. We believe Anthony’s experience as the former CEO of Graze gives him a unique advantage in building a brand that customers will love in this space.”
Believe in Science has built a special test kitchen and lab in West London to service the market in the capital and work on new versions of the products. The company’s ambition is to expand the techniques to other baked goods.