Popcorn is having a moment right now.
Sales of snacked jumped by 38.1% last year to £87.4 million and volumes were up 25.6%. It makes popcorn the fastest growing snack food in the UK.
Within the industry, Propercorn, founded in 2011, is the fastest growing premium popcorn maker — as opposed to the cinema stuff — selling well over 2 million bags a month. Its success made it of one only two non-technology business in the top 10 of The Sunday Times’ 2015 Start-up Track list, which measures fast-growing startups based on sales.
“It’s difficult to attribute just one thing but I think it plays perfectly into all the areas that are driving snacking at the moment,” Propercorn founder Cassandra Stavrou told Business Insider of the snack and her business’ popularity.
“Gluten-free is on the increase, low calorie, healthy, natural — Propercorn fits very neatly into all those areas. And people understand it — it’s not seaweed. You know what to expect.”
Unlike traditional cinema popcorn that’s covered in oil and loaded with salt and sugar, Propercorn’s snacks are relatively healthy. They’re cooked in just a small amount of oil and calorie counts for a bag generally come in under 150.
Propercorn has distribution deals with the likes of Boots, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, and WH Smith and last year booked sales of £10 million.
Co-founder Ryan Kohn told BI: “From a standing start with just over 4 years ago, with no money, up against Tyrells who are a brilliant business and Metcalfes who are backed by Julian Metcalfe who’s a very successful businessman — to come in and have overtaken both of them is great.”
He added: “We’ve still go further to go with some of the grocers and the big coffee chains — convenience is a big area for us.”
As part of that plan, Propercorn is considering raising money. The company was bankrolled by its founders, friends and family in its early days, but now Kohn and Stavrou are considering bringing in outside investors to propel growth.
Stavrou told BI: “We’re constantly assessing when the time is right [for investment]. We do feel like it’s kind of imminent. We are speaking to people at the moment.
“In terms of having an exact date, in terms of when and how much, we haven’t got that yet. Whatever it will be, it will be a minority shareholding just to make sure we can grow and expand rather than a significant sell.”
Kohn added: “For the last 3 years we’ve had a lot of interest from so many people — high-net-worth individuals, funds, private equity. We’re always keeping people’s details on file and happy to meet.”
Kohn and Stavrou didn’t elaborate on who potential investors might be. Watch this space.