Food Academy Friday: Boost Bites

Food Academy is a joint initiative between SuperValu, Bord Bia and the Local Enterprise Office Network which gives small producers a big chance. Since its inception in 2014, has supported over 600 small producers across Ireland – one of which is Boost Bites the brainchild of Cliona Hegarty. 

Can you tell us about your product?

Boost Bites is my clean food company. We make a range of energy­boosting raw snacks & have three products ­ Protein Bites, Date Bites & Coco Bella Bites. We use super healthy whole­food ingredients which are loaded with goodness & taste amazing to create our snacks. I developed my Unique Clean Coconut Base which is in each of the products & adds an extra hit of nutrition & delicious taste to the products. I’m so proud to have a range of genuinely healthy & deliciously tasty products. Our customers are eating them on the go & we’ve had such amazing feedback so far! Each product is Gluten­free, Dairy­free, Raw & Vegan also.

Boost Bites mini-prize

What inspired you to create your product?

I came into the Food industry from a very different industry, I was in Education & worked as a teacher in a small primary school. Sadly this wonderful school closed due to the recession & I took this as an opportunity to travel. I spent time living in Sydney where I threw myself into a healthy lifestyle. I had always loved baking but not the heavy feeling after eating cakes. I started getting really creative in the kitchen with interesting ingredients I had previously been unaware of, I was whipping up amazing salads with Quinoa, making delicious homemade almond milk & creating my very own healthy treats. I loved how good I felt after, they contain whole­food ingredients loaded with vitamins, minerals & fibre so you feel really energised. I would take my snacks in little containers down to Bondi Beach and have them as grazing snacks to keep energised. I soon realised I had something very special by the reaction from friends when they tasted my creations! It started to spirale with friends of friends asking to buy some from me, I worked on my recipes all the time keeping health & taste at the core. Now when my sweet craving kicks in, because we all get them I love that my Coco Bella Bites satisfy that sweet craving without sending me off track. You can have your little guilt­free treat which just so happens to be loaded with nourishing ingredients like Coconut oil, which is amazing for you!

What sets your product apart from similar products?

It’s an exciting time to be in the Health & Wellness space! My products are made with delicious whole­food ingredients & my secret sauce ­ which is our Clean Coconut Base, as I mentioned it adds extra flavour & an extra hit of nutrition. People are blown away by the taste of the products. I love the reaction Boost Bites get when we’re in­store tasting, people sometimes approach cautiously, sceptical of the healthy option & take the smallest sized sample on the slate, however after that taste everything changes, they dive in for more ­ this time the biggest & often leave with a couple of packets in their baskets!

How has your product evolved since you launched it?

I spent a lot of time perfecting my products, testing & tweaking the recipe at Farmer’s Markets so when I entered Retail I was confident that I had a strong & unique product. However I hadn’t placed enough importance on the packaging & it didn’t connect with customers from the shelf. I noticed that sales skyrocketed when I was in­store tasting and showcasing the product to customers. So I spent time with my designer & worked hard on improving the packaging to create that all important link to customers. I retained many of the key features which were important to my customers like the resealable zip & included extra elements to enhance the quality and freshness of the product. In December I changed to my custom printed pouches & they have been so well received. This change has had a big impact on my business & although it was costly to achieve, it was money well spent. The pouches give protection to the products, we have an extra foil lining to maintain freshness & customers love the handiness of the pouch for on­the­go munching!

Where can you buy your product and how much does it cost?

Boost Bites are available in Supervalu Stores in the Food Academy Section, Avoca stores, Fresh stores, Spar stores, a number of lovely independent stores & cafes. Also on our website www.boostbites.com They retail at €2.59 – ­€2.99.

What does the future hold for your business?

It has been the most exciting adventure so far & I can’t wait for more and more people to taste and try Boost Bites. I am confident that our products can interupt international markets too. I have already had interest from overseas & that’s very exciting. So my priority is to scale up production here to meet the growing demand. It has been wonderful to create my business and watch it flourish & now to be building a team & expanding our reach, we’re really so fortunate!

What advice would you give to small food business start ups?

I would advise food startups to be aware that there are many supports out there, for financial support your local LEO is a great starting point. I worked closely with Dublin BIC to really perfect my business plan & become investor ready. Programmes such as The Food Academy offer amazing industry knowledge & support. It was the Food Academy that gave me my first taste of selling into retail. Be aware of networking opportunities and try to connect with other food entrepreneurs. I have found this support to be amazingly valuable, starting your own food business can feel a little isolating and so having others who are in the same boat as yourself to share a coffee & chat is incredibly beneficial to you and to progressing your business. Lastly, I would definitely advise taking time out to unwind. Sundays for me are (mostly!) Screen­free, this really helps me to recharge for the busy demanding week ahead.

Find out more about Food Academy at www.supervalu.ie

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