Food & Drink

Thinking outside of the box

Online food retailers and their wares have never been more in demand, making for a safe and organised shopping option during lockdown.  Originally planning to open a boutique grocery store in Edinburgh but thwarted by Covid-19 restrictions, husband-and-wife team Cameron Bell and Emma Roeder decided to adapt and innovate – launching Roeder & Bell in April.

Offering an artisan food and drink delivery service in the capital, with all produce sourced from local, independent businesses, the grocery and fresh food selection changes bi-weekly. Anyone sampling the service can expect to receive a range of meats, fruit and veg, treats, drinks and pantry products (with a vegetarian box available too). The boxes are fully biodegradable and compostable, using as little non-recyclable packaging as possible.

Husband-and-wife team, Cameron Bell and Emma Roeder

We asked Emma about connecting with the community during lockdown, adapting a business to a new normal and the joy of food discovery as inspiration.

You launched a new business during a lockdown, something which could be considered a pretty brave move. What made you definitively decide to go for it?

This was an idea we’d had brewing before the lockdown, so when it happened, we realised we had to get creative and adapt like many others have done. Cameron for one was affected work-wise, so we felt there was no time like the present to try and get things going, especially when suppliers are also looking for new ways to sell products. A lot of the suppliers we work with usually work with restaurants and catering, so it was a great time to step in and make sure these companies also have an opportunity to adapt during this time.

Why have you chosen to make personal service such a particular focus?

Cameron and I are both experience service obsessed. We know what it feels like to be let down by customer service and we equally know how great it feels to be looked after. We are therefore hyper-focused on ensuring every customer feels special and looked after so that they are not just receiving great food, but the experience to go along with it.

Did you have experience in the food & drink sector prior to this?

Yes, by way of tech start-ups. I found my way into FoodTech and have worked for some really innovative companies like Infarm (vertical farming), 3F Bio (mycoprotein) and Forward Fooding in London, who connect food start-ups, corporates and investors.

There’s a sustainability benefit to working with local producers. Was that a priority when setting up the business? 

Definitely. As much as we want to bring new flavours and ideas to people’s kitchens, we are also focused on ensuring that comes (as much as possible) from local producers for that very reason. Working with these local brands has really motivated me to see how many local producers are also motivated by sustainability. It is really encouraging to see how much companies are making this their priority. I would say that most suppliers are generally quite positive and are adapting in interesting ways to make do in the current climate.

What do you feel you’re adding to the Edinburgh market as a USP that wasn’t necessarily there previously?

A way for the everyday home chef to break out of their normal cooking and buying routines, by introducing them to new ingredients, products and ideas. All of this while supporting the local suppliers they know and love and those which they may have otherwise not known about. There are lots of great companies supporting local suppliers and producers, but our USP is promoting the idea of trying something new, so that there are little moments of excitement and discovery in people’s ‘everyday’ routine.

What have you discovered about Edinburgh’s food & drink scene that you’ve enjoyed the most?

I have been so happy to discover the quality and passion that each supplier and producer has for their products and ingredients. It is particularly refreshing to find these small suppliers that have one specific product – say yogurt – and within that one simple product, they are hyper-focused on making every single element amazing from start to finish. It is also so wonderful to see how involved customers are. There is a great love of food in the Edinburgh community and I am so amazed by the creations our customers come up with every week. It has really made me fall in love with the city even more.

Orders for Roeder & Bell food selections are available online, priced from £40. Visit roederandbell.com

Watson Hogg