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Source: Bol

Bol will roll out a range of soups and salads into Costa Coffee early next year

Vegan meal pot brand Bol Foods has won listings at Costa Coffee.

The Grocer understands the brand will launch its range of 100% plant-based soups and salads into the Coca-Cola-owned coffee shop chain at the beginning of January.

As part of the launch, the brand, whose packaging across the entire range is already fully recyclable, will replace the lids on its salad jars with aluminium foil, cutting an additional 20 tonnes of plastic a year.

Bol’s listing fits within Costa’s strategy to improve its overall customer proposition, including enhancing its food offering, announced in January 2018 by former owner Whitbread to offset the challenges seen on the high street. A few months later, the coffee chain launched its first ever meal deal, offering a toastie, snack and coffee for £4.95.

Costa was then acquired by Coca Cola in August 2018 and since then has continued expanding its food proposition, partnering with Lotus to create the first ever Biscoff muffin in September 2019 and unveiling a Terry’s Chocolate Orange muffin for Christmas.

The latest listing will take Bol’s stockists to 18k as of January, a 90% year-on-year increase and five times higher than the 2,500 it had in April 2017.

Bol’s range is currently stocked by Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Ocado, among others, but Costa will be its first coffee shop listing to date.

“My ultimate goal for Bol is for it to be available at any time of day,” said Bol founder Paul Brown. “Most of our products are consumed at lunchtime but we would love to spread into all other occasions as well.” 

Costa will need more than Bol soups and salads to improve its fortunes

The company’s expansion, coupled with NPD such as its first-ever dinner boxes in 2019, led to the “second successive year of rapid growth”, Brown added, with retail sales expected to rise 50% year on year in the 2020 financial year to reach £15m.

Financial year 2019 had seen revenues rise 63% on the prior year.

Since launching almost five years ago, the brand has sold over 30 million portions of veg, including 10 million just in the past 12 months.

Initially, Bol’s meal pots included meat, fish and dairy, but it gradually shifted to plant-based, dropping dairy in 2018, having axed meat and fish more than 12 months earlier.

“Going vegan was the best decision we ever took,” Brown said.

“It is a very exciting time, right now food is the new rock & roll. There is a seismic shift happening – even people who thought going plant-based was going to be very niche a few years ago are reducing their meat, fish and dairy consumption.

“I do not think the whole planet will go vegan, but I do think people are going to increasingly switch to a flexitarian diet, so as a development team we are always looking at how to ‘sex up’ veg.”

Brown, whose ambition is for Bol to become a “global brand”, said discussions were ongoing for the brand to start exporting to Ireland and a number of big retailers in Europe. 

The company is also hoping to achieve a B Corp certification in 2020. It has so far committed to offset the carbon footprint of its staff and business by planting the “Bol forest” in Aslockton, outside Nottingham, as well as  using wonky veg in its products.