Henry Dimbleby

Former government health tsar and National Food Strategy author Henry Dimbleby has launched a new investment firm to support companies creating healthier and more environmentally friendly products.

Dimbleby said his Bramble Partners venture was the “first of its kind in the UK”. It would provide both funding and “deep expertise” in the food system to support businesses, he added.

The investment firm will cover the environmental or health impacts of food to help improve food security or issues posed by climate change. It is targeting co-investments in businesses from Series A to growth stage.

The move is the latest twist in the Leon restaurant founder’s love-hate relationship with the industry, having been appointed by former environment secretary Michael Gove in 2019 to carry out a review of England’s food system.

His final report was published in 2021 and called for a series of measures including a raft of new taxes on products high in salt, fat and sugar, as well as calling for measures to encourage supermarkets and suppliers to reduce sales from meat.

However, there was widespread criticism of the lack of action from ministers in following up on Dimbleby’ s proposals. In March last year he quit as a non executive advisor at Defra, citing the “completely shocking” series of rowbacks on the government’s public health policy, including its decision to shelve the junk food ad ban and a multibuy promotions ban.

Bramble’s leadership team includes the former head of acquisitions at Just Eat, Omar Habbal, as managing partner, and Anya Claxton as COO.

“The current global food system is disastrous both for our bodies and our planet,” said Dimbleby.

“It is the single biggest cause of deforestation, biodiversity loss, drought and freshwater pollution, and the second-biggest cause of greenhouse gas emissions. In the UK, it is also by far the biggest cause of preventable illness and death.

“Things have to change – and in fact, they already are. There are fantastic new businesses springing up all over the food system, using both cutting-edge technology and old wisdom to create better ways of feeding the world.

“We believe there is a significant opportunity for Bramble to accelerate change by championing these pioneering companies. We want to help UK entrepreneurs deliver what politicians have not yet been able to.”