If you’ve hung around George Square long enough, there’s no chance you could’ve missed our first campus celebrity – the Elephant Juice soup van! Edinburgh student lunches have been forever changed by their healthy and ethical soups, with a variety of unique and delicious recipes such as wasabi pea, tomato and red wine, and a favourite amongst the Scots: haggis and sweet potato! We managed to get hold of founder JP Cambell and Edinburgh university graduate Bronagh Smith, who helps out at the van, to ask them a bit about business. Founded by JP in 2012, Elephant Juice has a ‘One Feeds Two’ policy, promising that with every soup you buy a hungry person in India, Africa, or the Philippines will be fed. Good soup that makes your tummy and your heart happy? What’s not to love!
- First things first, the question we are all dying to know the answer to – where did the name come from?
– ‘Elephant Juice’ is another way to say I love you… Cheesy I know! But as our goal was to make it simple to share food with hungry people in need we thought it made sense. (JP)
- What is the story behind Elephant Juice and how and when did you first get started?
– We started trading on 21 January 2012. The idea came off the back of me becoming disillusioned with the recession and the credit crunch. I believed that business should be positive and should exist for a greater purpose than just making money. So Elephant Juice and the concept of One Feeds Two (every time we sell a meal we feed a hungry person in need) was my way of putting my beliefs into practice. (JP)
- What are you long term aims for Elephant Juice?
– Elephant Juice has been a pilot project to test the One Feeds Two concept. The aim is now to launch The One Feeds Two Foundation and encourage food businesses small and large to adopt this new ethical way of selling food. (JP)
- Is Elephant Juice a fun environment to work in?
– You better ask Bronagh and Ben, I am biased! (JP)
So we asked Bronagh…
– Yes, it’s really good fun. You get to meet such a variety of people. Often the same people come back time and time again so you get to know all about their lives, sometimes even before you know their names! The elephant juice team also all get along really well. (Bronagh)
- Why did you decide to target students?
– I noticed when I was at the university that there were a lack of places selling good healthy food around the Library and George Square. It seemed to be the perfect place for “Dumbo 1” to park up. (JP)
- Have you had a positive response from students?
– Yes, very positive. We are delighted that we have so many regulars visiting the van several times a week. (JP)
– Funnily enough the response has also been very positive amongst university staff, our second biggest client base. (Bronagh)
- Do you receive much interest from people outside the University circle?
– We have had a lot of interest from local office workers and the occasional school pupil. We also get a lot of interest for events and weddings. (JP)
– Often people come from businesses and housing nearby, such as in the quartermile. Sometimes we meet people who have read something about us and want to come and see what we are doing out of interest. (Bronagh)
- What is your best selling soup?
– It is hard to say, but it is probably between Chicken Noodle and Broccoli and Smoked Cheese. (JP)
- What is your personal favourite soup?
– Piri Piri Chicken. It is Nando’s in soup form! (JP)
– Honey-roasted squash and chilli. (Bronagh)
- Have you been able to see direct results of your ‘One Feeds Two’ concept?
– Yeah. We have been really encouraged by how customers have supported the concept and this has spurred us on to set up The One Feeds Two Foundation to encourage other businesses to follow our lead. (JP)
– When we went to Kenya we were able to see how big a difference one meal can make, and it turned the abstract concept into something real. However it also showed us how much there is still to be done. (Bronagh)
- What are your future plans for elephant juice?
– As I’ve said, we are just in the process of setting up The One Feeds Two Foundation. To get this started “Dumbo 1” is going to go on holiday over the summer but we plan to be back trading on George Square come September time. (JP)
- What would you say to people to encourage them to visit the van?
– The soup is really good. It’s made from fresh, healthy ingredients and it’s really making a difference. It’s also so easy because all you’re doing is buying your lunch, which you would have to do anyway! (Bronagh)
– Come and try the best soup in Edinburgh… you won’t be disappointed! (JP)
Couldn’t have said it better myself.