Adam Sopher, director at Joe & Seph’s, on how his family business turned popcorn into a gourmet delicacy.
"My dad is called Joseph and he made popcorn for us when we were kids as a hobby. In October 2010, we took it to the BBC Food Show and we got our first listing in Selfridges six months later.
"At the time, the market was toffee, sweet or salt popcorn, and we were standing there with chilli or goat’s cheese. At the beginning it was challenging to get people to try them, but we knew once we got it into people’s hands, we were onto a winner.
"With any new luxury product, you need to be in those premium stores and locations, where there are the foodies who are willing to try new things. We focused on Selfridges, British Airways’ Club class and Picturehouse cinemas, which is really forward-thinking in its food offering.
"We’ll be relaunching a partnership with Divine chocolate this Easter, which is the world’s first Fair Trade Easter Egg, for which the popcorn is inside the shell. We’ve also partnered with Laurent-Perrier champagne to create a popcorn paired with its Cuvee Rose. It’s partnerships like these that have really grown Joe & Seph’s, because their audience is exactly who we need to be connecting with.
"It was all very well having a great-tasting popcorn, but the packaging also had to tell people it was premium. One of our big points of difference is you get big, whole pieces of popcorn that are coated in all these amazing, natural ingredients. So having transparent packaging was a big thing for us. You can also see that there aren’t any of those unpopped kernels at the bottom of the bag to chip your teeth on.
One of our big points of difference is you get big, whole pieces of popcorn that are coated in all these amazing, natural ingredients.
"We’ve now won 34 Great Taste Awards from the Guild of Fine Foods, which is incredibly satisfying. It gives us the credibility to go out there and say, we don’t just think we’re the best tasting, other people do as well.
"Salted caramel is far and away our bestseller as it’s very moreish. We make a goat’s cheese and black pepper, which is popular as well; I actually use it instead of croutons on top of salads. If you work at Joe & Seph’s, you’ll end up eating popcorn for every meal."