So our Scotch Eggless® have become something of a Twitter sensation after the lovely Chris Packham posted a video featuring them — and while a lot of people were delighted to discover a new vegan delight, some seemed to focus more on the price. And yes, they are on the expensive side, but there are reasons for that, here are 6….
1. They aren’t mass produced. Each and every vegan Scotch Eggless is made by hand — my own hands at that, not a team of hands. There is no mass production, there is just me making everything for sale at Food! By Lizzi.
Last year Norwich’s Little Shop of Vegans sold 2,018 Scotch Eggless. 2,018 (in 2018, how cool is that?). In just one shop. I also sell at farmers’ markets as well as vegan fairs and online, so we could easily add an extra 1,500 or more. So that’s well over 3,000 hand-made vegan Scotch Eggless in just one year! This definitely puts them in the “artisan”* category, and could well have them considered as a luxury item.
I also hand make make vegan sausage rolls, pasties, festive cranberry topped “porkless” pies and sweet Scotch Eggs in many, many flavours and it all takes time. A lot of time.
2. These are not bite size. I don’t do bite size. I really don’t like the idea of people still being hungry after eating my food, so it’s always a substantial size. A Scotch Eggless is roughly the size of a small tennis ball but weighs a lot more! For some they are a meal in themselves, and for others they make a great addition to a main meal with vegetables or salad. They make a fantastic lunch on the go, as the original traditional version was intended, and will keep you going for a fair while. They’re also perfect for sharing and make for great finger food in front of the TV on a Saturday night. They can last up to four days in the fridge too, so can be added to a few days worth of meals or packed lunches. Now, it has been mentioned by some onlookers that they “only” last four days — but I’d been concerned about any fresh food that is still OK to eat two weeks later, wouldn’t you?
3. One of the ingredients is fresh breadcrumbs. I do rather enjoy good bread, and some of the very best comes from the award winning Wooster’s Bakery in Bardwell, Suffolk. Wooster’s wholemeal is used in many of my products, including the Scotch Eggless. It isn’t cheap. Nor should it be. Will Wooster is a second generation baker using traditional methods with his small team to create some amazing breads, so amazing he supplies Michel Roux Jr and counts Nigella Lawson as a customer.
4. Choice. There are currently 30 flavours of Scotch Eggless. Not one, not two, thirty. And I am always working on more. Not all of them are available all the time as there are seasonal specials, but in total there is a massive selection to choose from so included in the cost is choice and the cost of developing more choice.
5. Packaging and delivery. Now this is the biggie. I work really hard to try to be as environmentally friendly as possible, especially when it comes to packaging. I spent a long time trying to find the right combination of packaging to deliver the Scotch Eggless safely to your door whilst trying to avoid hideous things like polystyrene. The brown boxes my Scotch Eggless sit in are compostable, meaning you can pop them in your home compost bin when you’re done. The outer box is made of cardboard and along with the food safe gel ice blocks and silver padded envelopes used to keep the Eggless cool during transit I highly encourage customers to reuse. The “void fill” (or packing peanuts as they are also known) are made by Eco Flo. They are vegetable starch and dissolve in water (which is genuinely fascinating to watch.) Delivery wise, these aren’t something you can just pop in a postbox and hope for the best. As the Scotch Eggless are fresh food products they need to arrive as soon as possible, not three days later. This means a courier service to get them to your door the day after they leave the kitchen. This costs more. It actually costs me more than £10 to send each box and I try to absorb as much of this as possible, but I’m not Amazon or Tesco, I simply cannot afford to make it free delivery.
6. I am an independent, sole trader and so I kinda need to pay my bills too. Food! By Lizzi is not a multi-national company selling hundreds of thousands of products a day. It’s also not a side project or part time hobby. This is my full-time job. Yes it’s something I am passionate about, but that doesn’t mean I should work for free. I have put my heart and soul into this business. I work long hours and rarely have a full day off because when I’m not cooking there is paperwork and admin to be done, social media to keep on top of and a website to maintain. I am cook, product development, IT, admin, social media co ordinator, HR, etc etc as are many other micro and small business owners. We all need to pay rent or mortgages!
It sometimes feels like that, with the rise of the supermarket price wars, we have lost connection with how much food really costs to make and produce. If we’re being honest, we’ve lost connection with food and how things are made. You shouldn’t be able to buy a pack of four “real” Scotch Eggs for £2.50. No one involved behind the scenes is getting paid well from that! The pigs and chickens have an even worse deal of course, but that’s a discussion for another day….
So yes, my food is expensive. But as someone else once said, it’s “reassuringly expensive”.
Scotch Eggless® can be purchased from Ely, Bury St Edmunds and Sudbury Farmers Markets, Ipswich Market, Little Shop of Vegans in Norwich and right here!