After trying high quality best filled pasta when cheffing in some of London’s high end restaurants (including Michelin star restaurant Medlar); Ollie Greenhalgh realised how poor the level of quality ravioli that was available on the market.
To remedy this, RaviOllie was born; growing from a small street food stall in a local market to trading at some of the biggest festivals in the country, restaurant takeovers, selling online and supplying restaurants and hotels up and down the country.
We sat down with Ollie to talk about his journey, the impact of the pandemic, building donations & CSR into RaviOllie’s business model and sustainability.
”like starting a whole new business again from scratch
When discussing the impact of the pandemic on trade, Ollie commented “It was a big shock to the system and to the business not having a summer full of festivals and events. We’ve pivoted pretty severely to solely operating online which has been like starting a whole new business again from scratch.”
But it hasn’t all been doom and gloom at RaviOllie HQ, with the intensity of the festival season on pause, the team have had a chance to take a break which is positive from a position of health and well-being. It’s also provided opportunities to build on the retail and wholesale side of the business: “The pivot has put us in a really exciting position for when the season comes back and the wholesale operation returns so i’m feeling positive.”
“The last year and a half has created space and time to reflect on how we want the business to operate” especially when it comes to how the business intends to innovate and do more.
”balance the sales driven focus with a strong purpose
Ollie said “We have an epic team that are all really keen to balance the sales driven focus with a strong purpose to everything that we are doing. We have tried hard even in our small team to have an internalised drive for sustainability and community resolve…” and this process has driven new creative ways of achieving both business and charitable goals.
RaviOllie began supporting the Marmalade Trust (Bristol based loneliness charity) during the first lockdown as the loneliness epidemic became so apparent. The team built in the support of this charity during the launch of their online shop with a percentage profit donation.
Another charity the company supports is Fareshare. Coming from a conversation with a wholesale supplier about the significant volumes of food waste being generated due to the pandemic and the hospitality closures. Ollie described how their team chose to support Fareshare: “Max, our Business Development Manager came up with an incredible idea to create ravioli out of the surplus that was available and distribute it to vulnerable communities in hunger via fareshare. It began there and is becoming a core proposition for the future of the business with one meal being donated for every order placed.”
”Everyone has a responsibility to be doing their part
When discussing the importance of supporting charities to RaviOllie’s customers, Ollie felt that “the general public is becoming much more aware of the issues facing the world on a micro and macro level. It is becoming better known of the exploitative nature of business of the past and businesses that are still operating this way are becoming obvious to customers.”
“Everyone has a responsibility to be doing their part and choosing to shop with a business with a purpose over one that doesn’t is an easy way that people can contribute themselves towards a better future.”
RaviOllie is an award winning company with some impressive food & sustainability credentials including 3 Individual Great Taste Awards, PAPA industry award – Winner of the environmental packaging award 2019 and Winner of the NCASS best food at WOMAD festival 2017 Judged by Michelin starred chef Nathan Eades.
When asked if he felt like more businesses were looking to build their sustainability credentials and charitable giving into their business models, Ollie said “Yes I do, more and more businesses are doing so.
“I think they realise that their customers expect business to do this now and it is no longer a point of difference but an expected corporate social responsibility.”
”Business absolutely can be a massive force for good
As we closed the conversation, Ollie reflected on how we move forward; as consumers and as businesses.
“I think it is obvious that we all have to look at our routines whether that is where we buy, who we are buying from or what we are buying.
“We’ve seen that, in the capitalist society that we live in, material products become heavily ingrained in society.
“Good business practice and good business products therefore have a massive opportunity to set the tone of what is expected in sustainability within society.
“If business is to demonstrate less of a throwaway culture this will seep into society and very quickly that is what will create the value rather than using sustainability as a luxury price tag.”
Marking a warning amongst this trend, Ollie feels that it is vital for companies to strongly consider their messaging about sustainability and corporate social responsibility and stated “transparency is where the real responsibility lies.”
We’d like to say a huge thank you to Ollie and the team at RaviOllie for taking the time to talk to us. We would HIGHLY recommend checking out their website and trying their amazing ravioli yourself. There’s even some family or date night fun to be had with the DIY Ravioli Kits!