08 March 2021, 10:25 AM
  • To celebrate International Women’s Day, Speciality Food speaks to eight women about their experiences in the food and drink sector
International Women’s Day: Highlighting women in the food sector

Every year, International Women’s Day seeks to celebrate women’s achievements and raise awareness against biases in every industry. To recognise what women have achieved in the food and drink sector, Speciality Food spoke to eight women from across the industry to learn more about their experiences and the passion for food that drives them forward.

Kate Horne and Louise Nicholson, founders of bake and craft kit company Craft and Crumb believe that women are making their mark on the food sector: “The UK food industry was once considered to be very male dominated, but it’s being challenged by an ever-increasing line up of amazingly talented women – it’s a really inspiring industry to be part of,” they said.

Cathryn Zielinski, the founder of breakfast and snack brand Simplyseedz agreed that women are driving positive change in the industry. “I love helping people make better and considered food choices,” she said. “The world is waking up to the benefits of natural foods, and women are definitely leading this change in the UK food industry.”

However, Justine Murphy, founder and CEO of luxury food and lifestyle brand mymuybueno believes there is more work to be done. “I am hugely passionate about championing women, and my company is female-led, but we are a long way from gender parity, and sadly neither we nor our children will see it in our lifetimes, according to the World Economic Forum, which is why as women, everything we do now – to be instrumental in championing women in what is and always has been a very male dominated industry – matters greatly. We must ensure a stronger, better future for women in many years to come,” Justine said.

Claire Rennie, founder of Walter Gregor’s Tonic Water and Summerhouse Drinks, believes that women will make a huge impact on the food sector in the coming years. “Compared to some industry sectors, I have found the UK food and drink sector to be a very level playing field between men and women. Both sexes are equally well represented and there doesn’t appear to be a glass ceiling. In fact, the world is your oyster.”

Indeed, Emily Watson of BumbleZest drinks said she isn’t treated any differently from her husband and business partner. “Being a woman in this industry is great,” she said. “There are always new brands emerging and changes happening. It’s exciting and still gives me a buzz. All other brands I have come across seem to be like minded, and the community is very supportive and eager to help each other.”

Sam Linter, managing director and head winemaker at Bolney Wine Estate, agreed that working in the UK’s drinks sector has driven her ambition to create excellent quality products. “The English wine industry has come such a long way and it continues to grow quickly, full of people who are really passionate about what they do,” she said. “I love working in the English wine industry. I think the process from grape to glass will always fascinate me.”

For Cecily Mills, founder and CEO of Cecily’s ice cream, it’s the support that she has seen in the industry that makes her optimistic. “I love working in the UK food industry; it is so supportive of female founders. Some of the most successful brands right now are led by women. It feels like a real community, you ask for help and people offer it, It’s amazing.”

As Justine says, continuing to champion women in the fine food sector will be important for driving gender parity, but the passion and ambition that we’ve witnessed in this industry shows that there is every reason to be optimistic about a bright future for women.