The challenges facing global food and beverage startups

Businesses are facing multiple global and national situations outside their control. The lifespan of food and drink products intensifies the global challenges facing businesses with time barriers meaning startups must adapt quickly or face a more significant impact. Europe’s first intelligent B2B online marketplace, ShelfNow, works with hundreds of producers with an insight into the landscape for food and beverage startups.

The long-lasting effects of the pandemic continue to place pressure on the food and beverage industry, especially on startups. Although life has almost returned to pre-pandemic normality in many ways, events remain impacted. For producers like Stroodles and CROSSIP, catering for events is a significant portion of their business. Stroodles provides eco-tableware such as pasta straws and edible cutlery, plates and cups. The retailer caters to many events to offer a more eco-friendly experience—furthermore, CROSSIP provides non-alcoholic spirits to many events. The businesses are waiting for events to return to pre-pandemic size.

ShelfNow has heard from many of its producers that they have faced challenges importing ingredients from outside the UK. The ongoing impact of the pandemic, Brexit and the Ukraine-Russian war has led to ongoing import issues. Supply chain issues pose a serious threat to food and beverage businesses that often rely on ingredients grown in climates different from the United Kingdom. ShelfNow works with Cool Chile, a Mexican ingredient specialist which requires authentic Mexican ingredients such as chipotle and chillies. The business has felt the need to manage supply chain issues with more urgent forward planning and a greater need for last-minute problem-solving to ensure a strong continued supply.

The recent droughts across the United Kingdom and Europe are a concern for many of ShelfNow’s producers and buyers. Most of the products on the platform are pre-packaged to sell, however, the long-term effects of the drought may mean less produce for future productions. With the heat affecting the amount of produce able to be grown and furthermore, the size of produce, food and beverage businesses are concerned about the future unknown effect on their businesses.

The multitude of factors impacting the food and beverage industry are felt more significantly by startups. Without the support of a global food and beverage superpower to mitigate the effect with large amounts of money, the challenges facing the industry can be very impactful.

As a new Prime Minister was recently announced, food and beverage startups wait to see if there will be further support introduced for small and medium-sized enterprises. As the leading digital food and beverage marketplace in the United Kingdom, ShelfNow provides its producers and buyers with the expertise to face the factors impacting the industry.

To mitigate the impact of supply chain disruptions ShelfNow recommends forward planning whilst also preparing to adapt at the last minute when necessary. It also suggests sourcing locally for greater supply chain stability. Furthermore, the wholesale marketplace has a network of industry contacts to provide suggestions and relationship building when issues arise for its producers and buyers at the last minute. As we approach the busy festive season, ShelfNow predicts events will return to near a pre-pandemic scale to support its partner brands that rely largely on events and gifting. The digital marketplace also provides introductions and new connections for its business partners to support their continued growth. 

The past couple of years has seen several new and unprecedented events which have forced food and beverage startups to adapt. The challenges facing businesses have not slowed but presented new obstacles. Food and beverage startups must embrace forward planning and be ready to adapt. Furthermore, companies should seek advice and support offered by platforms such as ShelfNow and any government offering which may be announced in due course.

Philip Linardos, Co-founder and CEO at ShelfNow

Philip brings his experience in technology to ShelfNow to shape and develop the direction of the business. Previously, he led operations at Bizzby to transform the first on-demand marketplace for home professionals in Europe. Furthermore, he spearheaded the sales team at DynaRisk, a cybersecurity SaaS company to scale the company within 18 months. He also brings experience in venture capital at CyLon, Europe’s first cybersecurity startup accelerator, to ShelfNow. While at CyLon, he helped more than 20 early-stage businesses throughout their early sales stages and seed fundraising, concluding his work by launching the UK’s first cybersecurity pre-accelerator in partnership with the UK government (DCMS). 

At ShelfNow, he heads business operations, market development and the shaping of the company’s vision, aiming to establish ShelfNow as the leading marketplace for small and medium-sized brands and retailers in Europe.