I developed allergies whilst at university and a few years after that, a condition affecting my insulin levels. I had always been a healthy person and loved to cook, so I was determined to get my health under control through diet and lifestyle. After much research and advice, I cut out dairy, refined sugars and wheat from my diet. I started eating more genuinely nutritious foods and immediately saw the difference in my general health and energy levels.
After spotting a gap in the market for products which combined healthy, free-from and importantly, taste - I decided that I wanted to make nutritious foods, which were appealing to everyone, with ‘free-from’ as a bonus, not designed just for those with an allergy or intolerance. I chose some of my favourite superfoods and started developing recipes and products in my kitchen. After months of refining the recipes, Nom bars launched into Planet Organic stores.
Nom Foods is an ethical food brand with strong brand values, which launched in July 2013 with a range of organic, vegan, health bars. Nom bars are made with exciting, innovative superfood ingredients like coconut oil, coconut palm blossom, oat bran and cacao - they don't contain any refined sugars, are free-from dairy and are made only with low GI, natural, alternatives to sugar.
Nom bars were the first organic bars on the market to contain coconut oil as a key ingredient - offering a real point of difference from other, heavily fruit-based health bars on the market.
Nom products are certified organic, vegan and ethical. This ensures that they are good for the people who eat them, better pay for the farmers who grow the ingredients, and GMO free and sustainable for animals and the planet. The idea behind Nom foods is to add value to people's diets, not just by cutting out the bad stuff, but also packing as many nutritious ingredients into the products as possible.
I saw the difference that a clean diet, free from heavily processed products and sugar did for my own health. I wanted to be involved in delivering products to the market, to allow other people to feel their best too. The health foods industry is a really exciting place to be at the moment. I think buyers and retailers are looking for products which offer delicious taste, nutritious ingredients and convenience. I wanted to make Nom Foods products accessible to as many people as possible.
The ingredients. Nom bars contain unusual superfoods, which you wouldn’t necessarily expect to see in a bar. The bars are completely different from other health bars, both in taste and texture and were the first to market which contained Coconut oil - an incredibly nutritious alternative to dairy.
With the rise in popularity in all things coconut, this has been a huge selling point for the bars. The branding is also totally different to most organic, health bars – we went bold and stand-out with our branding and the bars look great on shelf.
The initial process of developing the recipes to look and taste great whilst also keeping a commercial head on was probably the toughest. Whilst at that time I was making the bars in my own domestic kitchen, I knew that one day I would need to outsource the manufacture, so the recipe and processes had to be scalable.
When the business reached that tipping point, finding a manufacturer who could make the bars look and taste great, with an organic certification was extremely hard too. The branding and packaging design part was incredibly exciting, because that was when Nom started to take shape as a brand and form its own identity. Seeing the bars on-shelf in Planet Organic for the first time was a very proud moment.
I’ve never branded Nom bars as snack bars, because I’ve always thought there’s mistrust around the word ‘snack’. Lots of people link the word ‘snack’ with sugar, or unhealthy options. I think consumers are now looking for products which offer health as well as convenience. To eat healthily at home, where you have access to cooking facilities and a fridge full of food is not hard.
Eating really good, nutritious food on-the-go can be really difficult. We live in a world where sugar is on offer all around us and it’s very easy to eat processed food, but we’re now seeing a shift as the retailers are beginning to offer really healthy snacking alternatives at good prices.
I always liked the word ‘nom’ as an onomatopoeic way to describe something yummy. It was popping up on social media more and more. As I was handing out prototype bars to my friends and family, the word ‘nom’ kept coming up. So the nom bar was born and so was Nom Foods!
I spent lots of time sourcing ethical ingredients for Nom products. The cacao powder, nibs, coconut palm sugar, raspberries and bananas used are all fairly traded. The virgin coconut oil is imported by a former Save the Children field worker, who went out to Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami to help with the clear up operation and started importing coconut oil back to the UK as a way of bringing some trade back to affected areas.
Those ingredients are then packed into a handy, 52 gram on-the-go portion! Nom bars are never baked – to retail as many of the nutrients as possible.
Very. As a start-up without a huge budget for marketing and PR, I’ve made some vital contacts through networking, who have helped me develop the brand and spread the word about Nom. I’m always amazed by the amount of lovely people in the health foods world – and the other brands who are willing to compare notes and share their experiences.
Through networking and collaboration I have not only been able to help others, but build my own support network of people who genuinely understand start-up problems and challenges.
Nom Foods has been lucky enough to enjoy incredible success in the 16 months since Nom bars launched to market. The bars have been listed with some amazing independent health food stores, gyms, cafes and delis as well as; Planet Organic stores, Whole Foods stores and Ocado. A full list of stockists can be found at; www.nomfoods.co.uk/nom-stockists/.
There are big plans for Nom this year! I am currently creating a pitch for a round of crowdfunding. The investment will really help Nom Foods to launch new products and scale up. There’s a Nom granola on the way – launching in early summer and plenty more exciting products. Watch this space!