Danish Michelin star chef goes international with vegan concept

Danish Michelin star chef Frank Lantz has hit a gap in the market with his vegan concept Uhhmami. With several prestigious awards, Uhhmami is quickly making inroads in both the UK and European markets, where they are further ahead in the shift towards a plant-based lifestyle than in Denmark.

Just a few months after launching Uhhmami, the Danish Michelin star chef has exceeded all expectations by winning the prestigious SIAL Innovation 2022 award in Paris. SIAL is the largest food fair in the world with 400,000 products and 7,000 producers from 200 countries. With an award-winning vegan concept that aims to turn classic dishes into delicious plant-based alternatives, the Danish celebrity chef has instantly caught the attention of the industry across Europe.

His ambitions are not small. Frank Lantz is riding the wave of the growing climate awareness and, with his vegan concept, has a vision to encourage everyone to move towards a plant-based lifestyle. Shortly after Paris, he did it all over again. Uhhmami won the ‘Best New Product Award’ at BioFach-2023 in Nuremberg, Germany.

Sustainability game changer

When CPIE Services calls Frank Lantz to hear the full entrepreneurial story, a week has passed since we sent him an email about the interview. At that point, he hadn’t even read our email, he says. The attention from abroad is overwhelming, and well into the interview he tells us that he has just won another award. Well, he hasn’t quite got round to putting it on the website, because there hasn’t been time.

The award is no less than the Dutch Horecava Sustainability Award 2024, where the jury recognises Uhhmami as a “sustainability game changer”.

“I have the Innovation Award in Paris, the Organic Award in Germany and the Sustainability Award in the Netherlands. I couldn’t dream of a better start,” says Frank Lantz, who makes no secret of the fact that going for the most prestigious awards has been part of his strategy.

11 countries in one and a half years

This successful start means that after just one and a half years, Uhhmami is exporting to 11 countries. Currently, England, Germany and the Netherlands are the three top selling countries.

“Currently, we’re noticing a lot of interest from the Netherlands. There were 65,000 people at the fair, so winning one of the most attractive awards is significant. We just secured a distributor in the Netherlands who has already made sales to new wholesalers, so we’re moving really fast,” says Frank Lantz.

He realises that there is a risk in going all in on so many markets at the same time, but it’s also an enticing and exciting journey:

“Most would advise to take the home market first and strategize for the next country. But we are in a place where we are a ‘first mover’. We have no competitors. There is no alternative. You can do a lot of analyses on that. But you can also set up at a trade fair to see who’s coming. It just seems more hands-on and easier for me as a chef to understand,” says Frank Lantz, who has also discovered that other countries are much more ready for plant-based alternatives than Denmark and the other Nordic countries.

“Danes love their meatballs, ham, roast pork, etc. which is why it will take longer in the home market.”

The UK is a goldmine

The UK is currently in the top three markets where Uhhmami expects the most interest.

According to Frank Lantz, there are many advantages to entering the UK. It is a goldmine for food manufacturers:

“There is no VAT on food. It’s brilliant. The retail price is 25% cheaper than here in Denmark.”

In addition to being a huge market, the UK is also a good stepping stone to Australia because of the Commonwealth.

“It’s the next step to Australia. We have just got a customer who has five outlets in England, but 60 in Australia. So, if we can do well in the UK, the road is paved for big brother in Australia,” says Frank Lantz, who also sees the entry into the UK market as a stepping stone to the US.

Uhhmami established a company in the UK in September 2023. After that, it took some time to get distribution agreements in place. Today, Uhhmami has agents in the UK to help visit customers and a distributor to supply small and medium-sized businesses. In addition, consumers will soon be able to find the concept on Amazon.

“We believe that the UK market could form a significant part of our turnover. Right now, there is a natural maturation period. Distributors and consumers need to get to know the product and we need to build credibility. We sell products every day, and more and more stores are joining us. Eventually, we would like to enter into dialogue with the big players so we can prepare for closing a deal with a retail chain like Tesco, but we also respect the fact that our platform is not quite good enough yet. For example, we would like to have at least 200 recipes on our website for the UK market to start with. But when you’re moving as fast as we are right now and, in several markets, we just can’t do it all,” says Frank Lantz.

Brexit is something Frank Lantz doesn’t want to worry about. For him, the UK is no more difficult to enter than Norway or Switzerland.

“It’s export. You need to have some paperwork in order, and it just needs to be done. That’s as far as it goes. We are a young company and have not known anything else. We can’t say: “Oh, before we could do such and such.” We just look at what our options are and how we can move forward.”

A happier planet

With Uhhmami, Frank Lantz’s mission is that many more people will move towards a meat-free future. In his eyes, the message can’t go far enough in the world. It’s about demonstrating that plant-based is not boring and bland. It’s about great taste, and a plant-based lifestyle has a huge positive impact on our health. Based on good vegan flavour, we can also contribute to a ‘happier’ planet:

“For me, there is nothing more important than the green transition. It’s no good if we don’t have a planet in 100 years. It’s not just a game. We have to do something about it.”

5 tips for entering the UK and Europe

As a former Michelin star chef, Frank Lantz is a special kind of chef. As an entrepreneur, he is not easily discouraged by adversity and sees opportunities instead of problems. That’s why he has plenty of advice up his sleeve.

1. Don’t hesitate – just go for it

England is a great country with great people. There is no VAT on food, and is a stepping stone to Australia… So don’t hesitate – just go for it. Nothing will happen if you sit around thinking. Why wait until tomorrow if you can do it today. It’s not that difficult. They speak English. So do we.

2. Seek local assistance

When we were setting up in the UK, I realised that we needed a local address for all our packaging. So, we got in touch with CPIE Services. It was a good decision. It’s really smart to get local assistance. It was just what we needed – otherwise we would have drowned in administration.

So, find a local expert from day one who knows what they’re doing rather than trying to do everything yourself. You will drown in it and probably do it wrong the first time, and with the risk that it might not come to anything at all.

3. Get distribution right from the start

We decided to get distribution right from the start. We have a global distribution agreement with DSV, who are so big that they can ship goods all over the world. They also take care of customs paperwork for us. It may cost a little more, but for us it’s important that it just works.

In the UK, we ship larger quantities at a time due to Brexit, and we have a local distributor who can handle overnight deliveries.

4. There are plenty of big trade shows worth visiting

There are a lot of people at the big trade fairs around Europe. It’s a great way to build your network. If I had to set up 30 meetings in the UK, it would take a month to organise. Instead, you can just turn up at a trade fair. If you have a decent product, you’ll meet at least 100 people who are interested, and you’ve only spent two days on it.

5. Make sure you get noticed

If you want to be seen, make sure you get noticed. It’s no secret that I’ve gone for the most prestigious awards (I’m not bothered about the rest). At the same time, we decided from the start that we had to have a good design that worked on the big stage and got noticed. We didn’t want to be a brown eco brand. That’s too boring. Today, we realise that influencers like to play with our products. We don’t have an influencer strategy at the moment (we can’t quite keep up), but we probably have 3-5 who write a week now. So we are being seen here as well.

About Uhhmami

Uhhhmami is a vegan concept that transforms classic dishes we all know into delicious, plant-based alternatives. The idea came about when Michelin-starred chef and food entrepreneur Frank Lantz decided to go vegan himself. Uhhmami offers an alternative approach, matching the flavour and quality of some of the chef’s signature dishes.

Organic products

The products are developed for use in retail, restaurants, catering and large industrial production. The products are certified with the Danish organic label (Ø-label) and the EU organic label as well as the international vegan and vegetarian V-label. They are 100% plant-based, organic, free from allergens and additives.

Michelin chef has developed the products himself

Frank Lantz is a recognised Michelin star chef. He has worked with the Danish Royal Family, owned the iconic Krogs Fiskerestaurant in Copenhagen and worked with foodtech, product development and production in the food industry for recognised brands such as Coop, 7-eleven, Irma and others. Frank Lantz has therefore also developed all Uhhmami products himself and speaks to visitors at trade fairs.

Export to 11 countries

Uhhmami currently exports to 11 countries: England, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Poland and Spain.

Winner of several prestigious awards in Europe

  • Horecava Sustainability Award 2024, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Best New Free From Product​, Eco Living Scandinavia & the Nordic Organic Food Fair 2023, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Best New Product Award, BioFach-2023, Nürnberg, Germany
  • SIAL Innovation 2022, Gold Winner, Paris, France

Read more about Uhhmami

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