Business is booming.

Healthy doughnut company Urban Legend inks deal with Tesco

If you go to a grocery store, you’re likely to be bombarded with cheap, sweet treats that are high in sugar and calories.

There’s nothing wrong with a little indulgence every now and then, but healthy alternatives are often scarce.

Now imagine a world where you could buy a donut in a supermarket that has less sugar than an apple and the same calories as a slice of buttered toast.

All in one: Anthony Fletcher has found a way to make healthy donuts that contain at least 30% fewer calories than competitors

All in one: Anthony Fletcher has found a way to make healthy donuts that contain at least 30% fewer calories than competitors

Entrepreneur-turned scientist Anthony Fletcher wants to make that happen with his healthy donut company Urban Legend.

The sweet treats will soon be launched to the masses following a recent deal with Tesco to stock the treats in their stores in the capital.

So what’s the science behind Urban Legend donuts, and could this be the future of guilt-free snacking?

‘Don’t blame the consumer!’

Fletcher started his career as a scientist before joining Innocent Smoothies in 2004.

After the takeover of Coca-Cola, he transferred to the healthy snack company Graze, where he eventually became CEO until 2020.

“I wanted to do it again. But something bothered me and that was that these healthier products – the smoothies, the snacks – it was difficult to get people to change their behavior.

“There was a limit to the amount of healthy food people wanted to eat for a whole host of reasons.”

The Health Survey for England 2019 estimates that 28 percent of adults in England are obese and a further 36.2 percent are overweight.

A quarter of children between the ages of 10 and 11 are now obese and another 15.4 percent are classified as overweight.

Even with these hefty numbers, the policy aimed at healthier eating has only been able to achieve so much.

Urban Legend has 14 different varieties in the two stores

Urban Legend has 14 different varieties in the two stores

Urban Legend has 14 different varieties in the two stores

“From all the work I’ve done, I’m tired of consumers being blamed for treating themselves.

“Treats are delicious, they’re cheap and they’re widely advertised and it’s almost socially abnormal not to.”

One of the refreshing things about Fletcher’s response to rising obesity and higher sugar and fat content in products is offering an alternative rather than blaming the customer.

Should you eat our donuts or should you eat more vegetables? You should eat more vegetables. But if you’re going to eat a donut… this is a much better option.

Anthony Fletcher – Urban Legend

‘Should you eat our donuts or should you eat more vegetables? You should eat more vegetables. But if you’re going to eat a donut… this is a much better option.

“With my new venture, I was much more interested in the idea of ​​taking clutter out of clutter, and the extent to which you can use advanced science to remove massive amounts of sugar and fat and still give consumers the products that I think she will continue to eat.’

Fletcher began to think more seriously about how this would happen after speaking with a Public Health England nutritionist in Graze.

“This nutritionist said, ‘It doesn’t work…there’s just not enough healthy food being sold and the vast majority of people eat more and more junk every year.” And I think that’s where the seed for Urban Legend was planted.

“A strategy as important as exercise or education … is to just look at all these very bad foods and say, ‘Well, what would happen if you reformulated them so they wouldn’t do so much damage?’

“The momentum is generally that most big companies are putting more sugar and fat in their food every year, not less. It’s cheaper, it’s more addictive. It’s a good business model’.

Urban Legend – the beginning

In late 2020, Fletcher launched his company Believe In Science to promote innovation within the food and beverage industry.

He used the investment from the Graze sale to explore different techniques and talk to scientists. From that Urban Legend was born.

The main difference between Urban Legend donuts and the more caloric alternatives is that they are steamed instead of fried.

They are expanded by heat and then set with a steam jet instead of floating around in grease.

Fletcher and his team have also managed to find ingredients normally found in nature — in leaves and roots, as well as fruits like cantaloupe — that taste sweet but aren’t metabolized like sugar in the body.

The first store opened in Brighton in July 2021 and the company has since opened a store in Clapham as demand increased.

Of course, the process is more expensive, and while Urban Legend has tried to keep prices as low as possible, Fletcher admits it may take some time to keep costs in line with donut giant Krispy Kreme.

It speaks to its general ethos in making healthy treats as available as possible.

“There’s more to this than eating donuts. I want to show the bigger companies in this category… that everyone is wrong! It’s actually perfectly possible to make this stuff, we just need to discover the new ingredients and techniques that can be used.

‘I really believe that in my heart. I think we can look back in 20 years, kind of like looking at smoking in bars or drink driving and saying, My God, why did we put all these things in our food?’

The donut company opened its first store in Brighton in July 2021

The donut company opened its first store in Brighton in July 2021

The donut company opened its first store in Brighton in July 2021

Tesco deal shows how far supermarkets have come

We may not be there yet, but the demand for healthy alternatives has certainly grown.

New companies are popping up everywhere that offer healthy alternatives. These include confectioner Nick’s who created a chocolate bar with less than 100 calories, while Halo Top rivals Ben & Jerry’s at just 320 calories per tray.

It means Urban Legend’s recent deal with Tesco comes at an opportune time, with customers craving healthy alternatives.

The supermarket will soon be stocking Urban Legend donuts in stores across London after trials at stores in Putney and North Greenwich in recent months.

The deal follows Tesco’s decision to proceed with plans to scrap volume-driven promotions for high fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) foods from October, after announcing restrictions on multibuy deals for HFSS products. would be postponed by a year.

“I underestimated that there are many large retailers that really want to put the needle on health and steer things in the right direction.

“But they struggle because they know that if they set up their stores a certain way, they sell more products because as publicly traded companies they have those stakeholders,” Fletcher said.

“I think the reason we had such a grip on Tesco was because they saw this as a win.

“This was a way of replacing unhealthy food at the front of the store with something healthier, while still being very competitive and selling it, you know, at the rate it takes for the business model to work.”

Now the Urban Legend team is looking to build a larger factory to meet demand after a $7 million Series A round, bringing the total investment since last summer to $10 million.

It is clear that investors see great opportunity in this technology and with Fletcher’s credentials, Urban Legend can help change the face of sweet snacks.

This is a money taste test

Urban Legend may be a healthy alternative, but it’s pointless if they don’t taste as good as their competitors.

The Urban Legend team kindly sent us a box to try and it’s safe to say they got into a storm with most of the team unaware that they were eating a donut with fewer calories than usual.

Some of the highlights included Lemon Drizzle, Blueberry Muffin and Strawberry Cupcake.

Prices start at £1.95 and the Glazy Days donut – which is most similar to an original Krispy Kreme – contains 139 calories and 3.1g fat.

It still has sugar in it and you can read the full ingredient list on the Urban Legend website.

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