This year Focus Friday is teaming up with the SuperValu Food Academy to bring you the best new Irish food producers, and tell you all about their products. Today, we chat to Isolde from The Cool Bean Company. In collaboration with Bord Bia and the Local Enterprise offices, SuperValu have created the Food Academy Programme, where we work with and nurture over 200 businesses from start up to getting their product on our shelves
Can you tell us a bit about your product?
We (The Cool Bean Company) create no fuss, no nonsense, superhero food. Cool Beans, our signature product is essentially very very fancy baked beans in three delicious flavours; original tomato, smokey and hot chilli.Cool Beans offers consumers a healthy alternative to a ready meal that is high in protein and fibre, low in fat, salt and calories, gluten free and quick and easy to make.
Cool Beans is completely new on the market and addresses consumers desire to have healthy, tasty and easily prepared comfort food. At 400g, Cool Beans is perfect as a main for one on toast, mash or a baked potato or a side for two with white fish or meatballs.
What inspired you to create your product?
My co-founder Sarah and I worked really long hours. At the end of the day we yearned for something super healthy and tasty for dinner but we just weren’t inspired by any of the convenience foods we found in supermarkets. More often than not we had cereal for dinner which is not ideal when you expect your body and mind to perform for 8 – 10 hours a day. At the same time we noticed a growing trend of gourmet baked beans on toast popping up in brunch places around Dublin but you couldn’t buy these as a retail product. After a little bit of research we realised how nutritious beans really were (we like to call this beaneology) and we knew we had to share this with people so we set about creating our own homemade baked beans. Cool Beans was born to bring fancy baked beans and beaneology to the masses.
How has your product evolved since it has launched?
We began selling Cool Beans at music festivals during the summer in our little mobile catering unit named The Bean Machine. This was an incredible way to get talking to our customers and we got a lot of feedback which proved invaluable when we started creating the retail product. We actually changed elements of our recipe which made the product healthier, we replaced the sugar for honey and made the product totally gluten free and it now tastes better than ever. Since we launched in SuperValu we have been constantly talking to our customers to see what they think and are now changing some elements of our packaging to reflect the feedback we’re getting. It’s important to stay close to you customers and listen to what they’re telling you as they are ultimately the ones who are buying your product and you need to be satisfying their needs.
Who is your customer?
When we started out we identified our customers to be young professionals – people like ourselves who wanted to eat healthily but didn’t have the time, resources or know-how to cook from scratch. This group are still a large part of our customer base but what we’re also finding is the Mom’s looking for something to satisfy their teenagers after school or older people who are cooking for one and sick of eating the same thing over and over. Because it’s so healthy but also tastes great it’s a product that appeals to all ages.
What tips would you give to someone who is starting out and wants to launch a food-related product/business?
If you’re pre-concept, try to think of something with a long shelf life and that doesn’t have to be chilled. It will be a lot easier to control cost that way. If you already have your idea then focus on two things – the quality of the product and your customers. As long as you have a great product and you’re satisfying the consumers’ needs then they’ll continue to buy it.
Where can you buy this product and how much will it cost?
We are available in Food Academy section in SuperValu stores. It costs €3.49 for a pot which serves two people.
What does the future hold for your business?
We’re focusing on growing The Cool Bean Company in Ireland over the next year and developing the Cool Beans brand so it becomes synonymous with gourmet baked beans. We’ll then be looking towards establishing a presence in the UK market and other key markets around Europe.