Tipperary company Nüdest Food are targeting adults looking for healthy snacks while on the go with their innovative products, writes Trish Dromey.
Tipperary company Nüdest Food is innovating in the healthy snack food space with squeezy pouches of fruit and yoghurt designed for consumption by runners, cyclists, athletes and people on the go.
This type of product format has been available for babies for a while but, two years ago, company founder Fiona Keane decided that this was something which could work equally well for adults.
“Pouches are clever, convenient, transportable and hygienic — a perfect way of delivering a 100% natural fruit-based snack that provides slow release energy and fibre and protein,” Ms Keane said.
Ms Keane had started out to make baby food pouches but switched when she realised that the adult snack
market offered an even bigger opportunity with less competition.
“I was travelling from Tipperary to Dublin working on the baby food product when the idea came to me.
I stopped to buy a healthy snack but could only find bars full of sugar or yoghurt for which I needed a spoon,” Ms Keane said.
Carrying out some research, she came to the conclusion the idea that could work, although she knew that she had a few obstacles to overcome.
The biggest one was that this hadn’t been done before and she would have to sell not only the product but also the idea that squeezy pouches weren’t just for kids.
“We had to create a whole new food category,” she said.
It also proved very difficult to find a company to manufacture the product for her in pouches. She failed to find any in Ireland or the UK but eventually sourced a specialised manufacturer in Belgium.
Ms Keane started out by creating and focus testing two flavours — one, banana, oats, honey and vanilla, the other, apple, pear, wheat grain and cinnamon.
“I initially worked with UCC and a dietician to develop them, using just natural ingredients,” she said.
In 2016, she found the Belgian manufacturer — which makes the products using Belgian ingredients as well as Killowen yoghurt from Wexford.
Working on the brand image and the packaging, Ms Keane came up with name Nüdest Foods, which she
describes as being a bit of fun as well as giving an accurate description of “ food with nothing to hide — stripped bare of all the bad stuff”.
The first production run was in 2016 and by mid-September, Nüdest Foods products went in to some Spar, Londis and Mace stores, retailing at €2.50.
Ms Keane had started the company with a small amount of family funding but in 2017, she received €100,000 in High Potential Start Up funding from Enterprise Ireland, as well as €150,000 from her brother David Keane.
Operating from an office at the family farm Carney Woodlands in Tipperary, she used the funding for R&D and
promoting Nüdest Foods at trade events including IFE, International Food & Drink Exhibition in London.
“Sales picked up in mid-2017 when we got in to around 40 SuperValu stores in urban areas — mainly Dublin, Cork and Wicklow,” said Ms Keane, adding that the company also got a contract from UK online grocery store, in the UK Ocada.
New customers this year have included Applegreen and Nüdest Foods are now in 20 of their service stations.
“We have also signed an agreement with health food distribution company IIHS and expect to be on shelves in health food stores in two to three weeks,” said Ms Keane.
While attending the IFE, Nüdest Foods attracted the attention of a Belgian distributor.
“He really liked our product and is now selling them to delis, a high-end grocery chain, and a few Carrefour stores in Belgium,” Ms Keane said.
Estimating that the company has already sold 150,000 pouches, Ms Keane says Nüdest Foods now has sales in 100 Irish outlets and exports around 10% of its products.
Employing a staff of two, Ms Keane is aiming to sell to 300 Irish stores and to have started exporting to the Netherlands by the end of the year.
The company’s goal over the next three years is to have a turnover of €7m and a staff of 10.