Two Rotherham-based entrepreneurs are hoping to snaffle up a piece of the lucrative pub snacks market after successfully reinventing the pork scratching.

Left to right, the Beerpig team of Fabian Agana, John Walker, and David Mace

John Walker and David Mace launched their pub snacks business, Beerpig, back in November 2019. Despite losing their impetus with the oncoming of the pandemic, the scratchings, which are sold warm, can be found in more than 250 venues across the UK.

Insurance broker John hit on the idea of producing warm pork scratchings when he decided to conduct an experiment at home. To his surprise, he discovered that the process of heating the scratchings improved their flavour. After sharing his discovery with friends, the Wickersley-based entrepreneur decided to explore building a business.

Central to Beerpig’s growth plans was the creation of a custom-built warming cabinet, enabling pubs to sell heated pork scratchings. At the same time, John embarked upon a quest to design and create the perfect pork crackling. It had to be suitable for warming, meet the necessary shelf life, and comply with all food safety standards. Armed with a few samples of Beerpig Crackling and some business cards, John and David ventured out to several local pubs and secured their first orders.

With each heating unit requiring significant investment, John knew that the key to the success of the business would be securing repeat orders. He also recognised that by serving the pork scratchings in washable, porcelain dishes, it would also help to reduce single-use plastics or cardboard.

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John and David also knew that to build and grow the business, they would need additional help. They called upon Launchpad, a free business support programme aimed at helping new entrepreneurs and SMEs within South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw.

Working with experienced business adviser Darren McDool, John and David secured a trademark to protect their unique brand. Together they developed short-term and a long-term business plans, setting out the company’s ambitions over the next six months and the next three years. With Darren’s help, Beerpig relocated from John’s home office to Rotherham’s Fusion Business Centre.

John and David took part in a number of free workshops provided by Launchpad, giving them the confidence to build and develop their own website from scratch, further protect their brand, and learn how to market their products more effectively.

Beerpig currently sells one ton of Beerpig pork crackling to pubs and clubs across the UK every week. The company is hoping to expand its pub operations to more than 1,000 outlets by the end of 2023.

Constant source of support

John Walker said: “Pork scratchings are the most popular pub snack in the UK, yet despite their popularity, the way they are sold today has hardly changed since they were first developed nearly 200 years ago.

“I felt selling warm pork crackling would be something that would be popular with drinkers, so after tailoring and perfecting our recipe, we quickly started receiving regular orders. However, when Covid-19 struck, we were forced to completely re-evaluate our business model. Imagine starting a new company selling to pubs and bars for them all to be forced to close their doors within a matter of weeks.”

He added: “We approached Launchpad for help fairly early on in our business journey, and Darren and the team have been incredibly supportive. We knew that for our business to succeed it was important to get everything right from day one.

“The one-to-one advice we’ve received helped us to get our terms and conditions right, protect our brand, as well as refining our business plans. The workshops we’ve attended have helped us to build our customer base, increase online presence, and understand what it takes to run a successful business. 

“Launchpad has provided a constant source of support throughout our business journey, and the help we’ve received has enabled us to not only believe in our ideas, but lay the foundations for significant future growth.”

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