In Conversation With… Louis Bedwell 

In conversation with… is a series of blog posts where I’ll be talking to inspirational people working in the world of food policy.  

Today’s in conversation with features Louis Bedwell.

He’s the former Managing Director of Mission Ventures, where he helped brands who champion better quality, healthier and more sustainable food.  

Our paths crossed as Bremner & Co are the Learning Partner for the Good Food Programme, funded by Impact on Urban Health.

This Mission Ventures project works with healthy challenger brands to change the food system for the better – start-ups looking to displace well known food brands with healthier options. Now, Louis is supporting retailers and investors to scale their impact in the food-tech, agri-tech and FMCG industry. 

Louis, good morning! I’m going to start with a big question today. Much of your work talks about innovation, incubation, disruption, and defying convention in the food system. For people who aren’t familiar with what that means, what is it that you do and, more importantly, what drives you to do it? 

My work revolves around challenging the status quo in the food system. This means identifying and nurturing innovative ideas that can transform how we produce, distribute and consume food, providing them with the funding, support and networks needed to thrive. The goal is to foster a system that is sustainable, equitable and resilient. What drives me is the pressing need to address systemic issues in our current food landscape – issues like food insecurity, environmental degradation and public health challenges. I’m passionate about creating solutions that disrupt and bring about meaningful and lasting change. 

To put this into concrete perspective for readers – what is a healthy challenger brand? 

I always think about the word “healthier” when it comes to new brands. We’re aiming to take consumers on a journey, creating something better for them without compromising on taste, price or accessibility. A healthier challenger brand competes with the industry giants and brings something fresh and valuable to the table. These brands are often mission-driven, focusing on health, sustainability and ethical practices. 

You wrote the other day that “High protein and high fibre have had their moment. The next wave of #foodanddrink #innovation will be about making it easier for people to eat good food”. Can you talk more about this? 

Absolutely. We’ve seen a surge in products boasting high protein and high fibre content, which is fantastic. However, with increased focus on processing, ingredient origin, and marketing practices, products need to go further. The next wave of innovation needs to go beyond just nutritional content. It’s about accessibility and convenience – making healthy, delicious food options available to everyone, regardless of their lifestyle or socioeconomic status. This means creating products that fit seamlessly into busy lives, reducing the barriers to eating well. 

You also wrote the other day that the food system is broken and talked about seasonal food and the role of urban environments. I’m keen to hear your top three innovations, policy changes, or system changes that you believe would help us fix our food system. 

Fixing our food system is indeed a complex challenge, but several key changes can make a significant impact: 

  1. Local Food Networks: Strengthening local food networks through urban agriculture and farmers’ markets can reduce dependency on long supply chains and ensure fresher, seasonal produce for urban populations. 
  2. Sustainable Practices: Promoting and incentivising sustainable farming practices that preserve biodiversity and reduce environmental impact is crucial. This includes regenerative agriculture, which restores soil health and sequesters carbon. 
  3. Large-Scale Investment: Investing in food system infrastructure to support small and medium-sized enterprises, ensuring they have the resources to scale sustainably and ethically. Transitioning to a new food system is expensive and risky for producers, and adequate funding will bridge this gap. 

Much of my work is about influencing policy and advocating for change, particularly with regards to child health. Policy change is slow, often incremental, and sometimes frustrating. What can I learn, as someone working in nutrition policy, from the world of entrepreneurs, disruptors, and innovators? 

There’s a lot to be learned from the agility and boldness of entrepreneurs and innovators. Firstly, embracing a mindset of experimentation can be powerful—piloting small-scale initiatives to gather data and refine approaches before scaling up. Secondly: storytelling is key. Entrepreneurs excel at crafting compelling narratives that resonate with people’s values and emotions, which can be incredibly effective in advocacy. Finally, building diverse coalitions can amplify impact. Engaging a wide range of stakeholders – from grassroots organisations to tech innovators – can create a united front that drives policy change more effectively 

Lastly, what’s for dinner, please? 

We’re a busy household with two children under the age of three, so we’re big consumers of meal boxes. They help us cook healthy meals from scratch quickly without wasting food. They also keep our weekday meals exciting… what’s for dinner is always a surprise! 

Next up on In Conversation With… Barbara Crowther, Campaigns Manager for the Children’s Food Campaign at Sustain.  

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