Seven of the UK's hottest foodies were crowned winners of this year's Virgin StartUp Foodpreneur Festival, each winning a tasty mentoring package with routes to market and the chance to raise their business profiles.

Developed by Virgin StartUp, Sir Richard Branson's not-for-profit company providing funding and support for entrepreneurs, the popular food festival superseded last year's event with even bigger prizes including the chance for UK foodies to launch their companies in the US.

Winners in the 'Retail' and 'Street Food' categories were announced during a live showcase at London's The Vinyl Factory by an impressive panel of judges, which included Ella's Kitchen founder Paul Lindley, Urban Food Fest founder Jessica Tucker, Appear Here founder Ross Bailey as well as Sir Richard Branson himself.

The 'Retail' category…

The winners in the 'Retail' category, judged in collaboration with Exporting is GREAT, the UK government's ambitious new campaign, which aims to inspire 100,000 new businesses to export by 2020, are Cauli Rice, Double Dutch, Harry Brompton's London Ice Tea,  Mallow and Marsh, and Pip & Nut. Each wins the opportunity to meet buyers at Target Corporation in the US, whom are seeking up to four new products to trial in their American stores.  

About the winners…

  • Cauli Rice founded by Gem Misa, is the only long-life, ready to heat version of the global health food phenomenon 'cauliflower rice'. Gem grabbed the judge's attention with her commitment to the brand and its impressive growth; within 2 months of launch the product was in 1,000 supermarkets.
  • Double Dutch started by twins Raissa and Joyce de Haas, offers an innovative range of premium soft drinks that are specifically developed to compliment higher quality gins, vodkas and tequilas. Raissa and Joyce's unique product and innovative growth plans made them worthy winners.
  • Harry Brompton's London Ice Tea created by Ian O'Donohue, is the world's first premium alcoholic Ice Tea. Ian impressed the judges with his great tasting, award-winning product, as well as his ambitious growth plans.
  • Mallow and Marsh founded by Harriot Pleydell-Bouverie, is an honest, alternative confectionery brand that is dedicated to putting good marshmallows on the map. Harriot's listing growth impressed the judges, having gone from 35 Sainsbury's stores in late March 2014 to 600 Sainsbury's stores nationwide. Her knowledge of the U.S. Market and her competitors also shone through to secure her place.
  • Pip & Nut founded by Pip Murray, is an all-natural nut butter brand that's dedicated to putting the nut back into nut-trition. The company has won listings with over 1200 stores in it's first year but it was Pip's range of flavours (which are 100% natural with no palm oil or refined sugars) and fun and playful branding that secured her spot at the winner's table.

The 'Street Food' category…

The winners in the Street Food category, judged in collaboration with Urban Food Fest and Appear Here are Humpit Hummus whom win a three-month stall spot at Urban Food Fest in Shoreditch, and CLAW Food whom win a rent-free, week-long pop up at Old Street Underground Station via Appear Here.

About the winners…

o   Humpit Hummus is a hummus and pita bar that serves a vegan selection of Mediterranean-inspired foods. Founder, Jonathan Phillips' concept, ingredients, colours and vibrancy impressed the judges, all of whom agreed he would fit in perfectly in the V Corner (vegan and vegetarian) of Urban Food Fest. The award and prize will give Jonathan valuable support to drive awareness of his pop-up outside of Leeds.

o     CLAW Food, which has become popular due to its infamous CLAW Burger, is one of the only British seafood pop-ups that focus on crab and other sustainable British sea foods. CLAW's strong brand identity, and founder Fabian Clark's enthusiasm and drive to bring the humble crab back to British plates wowed the judges. The award and prize will give Fabian exposure to Old Street's 70,000 daily commuters, and valuable support to drive the development of his brand.

Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group Founder said:

“The UK is living through a golden age of entrepreneurship and British foodie start-ups are at the heart of it. This year's Foodpreneur finalists showed great innovation and meeting the great minds and talented chefs behind each idea has been inspiring. The standard of entries was very high but the winners really stood out for their passion and pioneering businesses.”

Paul Lindley Founder of Ella's Kitchen said:

"The US market is the ultimate business opportunity for British brands looking to expand internationally. This year's winners in the Retail category are brilliant examples of what a passion for food and drink combined with a pioneering business plan and buckets of creativity and innovation can achieve.

"It's been great working with Virgin StartUp on our joint mission to discover pioneering entrepreneurs and help them to crack new markets through the collaboration with Target Corporation. I can't wait to see what happens when the winners take their businesses to the US next month.”

Liz Truss MP, Secretary of State for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs said:

“These awards show how British food and drink is an incredible hotbed of ambitious and creative entrepreneurs. Their extraordinary energy and curiosity to try new things are at the heart of Britain's food and drink revolution, powering our thriving  £100 billion a year food and drink industry. We want to remain the most innovative and dynamic food nation in the world which is why we are working hard to increase opportunities for British food producers to sell more of our exciting top-quality produce at home and abroad – this includes trebling the number of food and farming apprentices by 2020.”