In this 'Owner Insights' series we will be taking a look at SMEs around the UK from different industries that all have one thing in common - seasonality in their businesses. We will be looking at the challenges they face as a small business and the methods they use to overcome disruptions to their cash flow.

About Eaten Alive

Eaten Alive produces some of the finest fermented foods that are both vegan-friendly and good for the body. Founded by two chefs with a passion for fermentation, they've created their own line of kimchi, sauerkraut and hot sauce. Their recipes focus on putting great produce and flavour first.

Jars of sauce

How Eaten Alive is affected by seasonality

Like many businesses in the food industry, Eaten Alive faces challenges that are influenced by seasonality. The growing season for vegetables dictates the availability and quality of the produce at different times of the year. They've found that the cost of ingredients can triple in price if there's a shortage and maintaining the consistency of their products is vital to their business.

To maintain quality flavours and production output, founders Glyn and Pat believe that planning ahead and being adaptable has helped them overcome the hurdles presented by seasonality.

Full interview with Eaten Alive

Question: What’s something that people don’t know about fermented food?

A: Many people don’t necessarily realise that most of their favourite foods have been fermented. Things like cheese, charcuterie, aged meat, chocolate, of course beer and wine are the best examples.

Question: How did you start Eaten Alive?

A: Someone we knew asked us if we could make vegan kimchi for their chain of restaurants - we did and it kind of snowballed. Now we’re three years in and producing a tonne and a half of kimchi every other week. Our main concern now is just to be able to make enough of everything to keep up with demand.

Question: What have you learned since starting your company?

A: We’ve had to learn a huge amount because really we only knew how to make nice food, not how to package it and sell it. We had to learn from scratch all about all the systems for retailing, dispatching and marketing. We also learned how to manufacture.

Question: How does seasonality affect the quality of your product?

A: Maintaining the consistency of a product is vital to us as a business but we also have to charge the same cost. That can be quite challenging when the price of one of your main ingredient triples due to seasonal factors or extreme weather.

Question: How does seasonality affect your business?

A: There are growing seasons for vegetables so the prices fluctuate hugely as does the quality and that presents big challenges throughout the year when cost of goods can go up two or three fold if there’s a shortage of a certain product and we kind of just have to roll with that as a producer.

Question: What would you say is the hardest part about running a business?

A: You always plan for things to grow organically, but we’ve found that when change comes it comes quite rapidly and abruptly.

Question: What would you say to someone who’s starting a business?

A: Hire people that are better at doing the bits that you are not good at, as fast as you can. Be brave.