Happy birthday to us!

Ceres turns 25 this month. Jennifer looks back at what has changed in the past 1/4 century.

January 11, 2024
Jennifer John
a cake with 24 candles on a blue background with balloons
January 11, 2024
Jennifer John

If you had told the me as I sat down at my desk (rescued from a skip) in my repurposed dining room back in 1999, that 25 years later Ceres would be a thriving PR agency still specialising in food, I am not sure that I would have believed you!

Yet here we are – thanks to a fabulous team, some of whom have naturally moved on (it’s always great to see former colleagues’ successes and I congratulate you all) and some, I am delighted to say, went away to spread their wings but have come back again…and of course to our amazing clients as well.

As well as being super proud of our team, I am equally proud that we are still working with clients and brands that we first connected with in the early days, and that now as then, 100% of our revenue comes from the food, health and wellbeing sectors.

So, what has changed and what is still the same?

Our name:

We began as The Ceres Partnership Ltd.

Ceres, the goddess of agriculture and harvest, and Partnership, because from the outset we wanted to work as a team with clients and partners…and while that ethos definitely hasn’t changed, today we just call ourselves Ceres.

My & our love of food:

My passion for all things food began when I studied home economics at college.

I then became a member of the Guild of Food Writers and today share my passion with an amazing team of 12 keen foodies. Some are into the trends, others the environment, others love discovering new products, some love dining out, while others just love to cook!


When I tell new team members that when Ceres started, most media had to be contacted by phone (landline obv!), fax or post, and that very few had an email, the look of incredulity is something to behold (leading to explanations of what fax and franking machines were!).

Websites were a rarity and meeting face-to-face was a given, where great relationships were built - some of which I still have today.

I still recall getting my first Blackberry and realising that my working life would never be the same again – and then later my first iPhone.

The influence of social:

Fast forward to when we were talking to clients about social media; what it was, how it worked and that it needed to be integrated into their PR strategies going forward. And then persuading clients they would need to invest money for their message to even be seen on social media platforms!

And that was all before the rise of ‘social influencers’, when back in 2010 influencers realised they could connect with brands to make money and brands realised they could leverage the influencer’s reach. According to recent data, nearly 75% of brand budgets are now being dedicated to influencer marketing. That’s quite a shift from when I started out and influencer marketing was more about word of mouth referrals! 

This shift has also meant that over the years we have sadly watched traditional media decline, but we value how targeted and measurable digital activity is.

Which brings me to the word ‘content creation’, I’d like to think we have always been content creators, as recipe development and recipe marketing has been part of our DNA from the very beginning.  For many years this was from my home kitchen, but nowadays it’s all done from a bespoke kitchen studio right next door to our offices with tasty smells wafting out daily!

So much has changed across the world of food as well…

I personally am pleased that now there is so much more regulation over claims that can be made by brands over their products and what they can (and more often can’t say). Right from the outset, Ceres worked with trusted qualified nutritionists and dietitians to ensure that all our material was accurate – and today that has never been so important. Health conscious consumers are bombarded with information across multiple channels every waking moment so it’s crucial that messaging is accurate, relevant and can be supported by hard scientific facts.

I have always been a strong advocate of teaching people about food – how to prepare and cook it as well as helping them understand where it comes from, and how different foods contribute to a healthy balanced diet.

For example, National Chip Week, was a personal favourite of mine. I loved explaining how much goodness is in a potato and reassuring everyone that there is a place for the potato chip in a balanced diet. Likewise Open Farm Sunday, now rightly recognised as the food and farming industry’s national open day. I get a huge sense of pride each June when I see the thousands of people visiting a farm to connect with all that farmers do.

Here are just a very few of my favourite (and otherwise!) moments from along the way
  • Frying chips live on Woman’s Hour for Jenni Murray – with a security guard standing by with a fire extinguisher. All just moments after she had taken a well-known politician apart on air!

  • An outside broadcast for Open Farm Sunday and having less than ten minutes to find some ‘day old chicks’ from a neighbouring farm – because the presenter had promised viewers they were coming up next!

  • Judging endless bowls of gluten free cereals for the Free From Awards in the early years – and today I am very grateful of how innovation has driven this category so far forward

  • Attempting the world record for the world’s largest bowl of porridge

  • Countless radio days with a host of experts including Simon Rimmer, Brian Turner, Dr Hilary and Russell Grant to name just a few

  • Working with a huge range of celebs on multiple campaigns that will for many invoke some big memories - such as Keith Chegwin, Chris Evans, Tony Blackburn, Gizzi Erskine, Barry McGuigan and Nell McAndrew!

At Ceres we are fortunate enough to work with an amazing range of people, foods and brands – and equally some amazing and inspiring clients, who are so knowledgeable and passionate about what they do. It’s their passion that drives us forward.

So from all the farmers to producers, businesses large and small, it’s a huge thank you from me to everyone who has been part of the Ceres journey over the last 25 years. I couldn’t have done it without you and I can’t wait for what comes next!