Fi Global Insights is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

‘Life makes sense backwards – but you have to live it forwards’ – Indy Kaur [Interview]

Article-‘Life makes sense backwards – but you have to live it forwards’ – Indy Kaur [Interview]

Women in Food Interview with Indy Kaur
In 2021, Indy Kaur founded Plant Futures, a UK consultancy and insights firm for plant-based food businesses.

Prior to setting up her own business, she worked as innovation manager at Kinnerton Confectionery, Gü Puds, Kerry Foods, and as R&D manager at Mondelez International. She studied mechanical engineering and has a Bachelor of Science in industrial product design.

She is also a board member of ProVeg UK.

What attracted you to a career in the food industry?

“It comes back to how I was raised really: food was always a big part of my life and my culture. [I have an] Indian background and [everything] centres around food. I love that experience of bringing people together through food and then, equally, to all the other cultures.

“So, that was the one thing that really attracted me to the food industry: the power of food in bringing people together and promoting healthy lives. And then I just found it really fascinating how you can develop an idea and build something and launch it.”

You have worked for companies across the food value chain from the supply side (Kerry) to manufacturing (Gü Puds) and retail (Tesco). What have these different experiences taught you about the industry?

“What I've really appreciated about working for big and small businesses is getting a broad perspective. At Gü Puds, which is an SME, their way of innovation was completely different to the way we would do innovation at Kerry or Tesco. At Gü Puds, it was very much: roll your sleeves up and get stuck in, let's go do some guerilla marketing, get onto the streets, and hand out samples. Things were really tight, which forces you to think creatively.

“Then on the other side at Tesco, it did feel like a big playground in that we had all of these resources [and] all these different levers that you can pull. By working at different sized businesses, it just enabled me to figure out what are the best bits that I could take forward into the innovation side.”

What has your experience been as a woman in the food industry? Have you ever encountered certain obstacles because of your gender or background?

“Generally, I've never really faced any issues. When I left my corporate job to set up a business, I was really nervous. I'm short, I'm Indian, I have a Birmingham accent – who is going to listen to me?! When I was working at Tesco, everyone wanted to talk to me because I worked for the biggest retailer in the UK. So, I was nervous and apprehensive. But what I learned quite quickly was, these were just stories I was telling myself. It wasn't actually how other people were seeing things.

“I suppose the food industry – when you get into head office – is not very diverse. I've always felt that it would be really brilliant to get more diversity within leadership roles because I think the diversity of different cultures in food is really integral.

“Then, as a female going into the plant-based sector, I just can't believe how phenomenal some of the women are within this plant-based sector. It's just something that I've picked up on after [having] worked in the food industry for maybe 18 or 19 years. I've never worked in a food sector with so many women who are just really on it – [there is] this sense of solidarity and a massive drive. It's the first time I've seen that aspect [in the food industry]. I think there's something around plant-based that kind of invokes that – it might be the fact that some women can be a bit more interested in the nurturing side.”

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced in your career so far and how did you overcome it?

“I always say: ‘life makes sense backwards, but you have to live it forwards.’ I could never understand why, after a few years of working in a company, I just felt as if it wasn't enough and I needed a new challenge. Eventually I got to the point where I realised that I'm just a secret entrepreneur.

“I think the biggest challenge for me was just to accept the way that I am wired and the fact that I love business and [have to] be a bit brave and have the conviction to go through with it – because setting up your own business is really scary, it's not that fun!

“And if you have a family where most people have a regular job, they probably will think you're a bit crazy if you quit your job to set up a business based on some idea. Today, I'm surrounded by more entrepreneurs that think more like me, which then also helps to make me feel a bit more normal in the work world.”

What's your signature dish and what kind of food products would we see if we had a peek in your kitchen cupboards?

“Ramen bowls and chai lattes are my comfort food so my signature dish would be a ramen bowl – a real brothy soup that is super quick to make and very healthy. They just always put me in a good mood! It’s interesting because I never follow a recipe – I just end up chucking loads of ingredients in and I get to the right flavour profile by tweaking it. It's quite fun!

“And if you look in my cupboard, you'll find a whole bunch of different types of sauces and condiments from Asia that I got into especially during Covid. I couldn't get to Thailand, so I would just go to Asian stores and experience what it's like to be away.”