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 Dr. Coy’s Health Foods. We caught up with Aaron O’Donohue & Alison Stroh to find out more.
Can you tell us about your product?
We founded Dr. Coy’s Health Foods to bring innovative nutrition born out of Dr. Johannes Coy’s groundbreaking medical research to market. Our flagship invention, the “Nutritional Chocolate Bar,” offers low effects on blood glucose levels, is high in fibre and vitamin E as well as being gluten free. It also won independent blind taste tests and is so unique that it is possibly the only patented chocolate bar in the world! We also offer complimentary products that enable ‘free-from’ cooking at home such as an award winning organic coconut oil (the only Coconut oil in the UK or Ireland to receive two stars at the Great Taste Awards 2014), an organic coconut flour (gluten free, high in fibre and a source of protein), an organic vegetable bouillon and a stevia sweetener to replace sugar in cooking.
What inspired you to create your product?
All with young families, the founders Dr. Johannes Coy, Alison Stroh and Aaron O’Donohue firmly believe that cutting high glycemic sugar out of the diet is key to nutrition. Snacking is one key area where people slip up when trying for better nutrition and when looking at the snack bar landscape we realised that there was nothing like our nutritional chocolate bar. Diabetes and obesity are the biggest nutritional challenges of our times; we tackle this with healthy, “Free-From,” functional foods. Alison met with Dr. Coy while working in Germany and we collaborated with him to utilise the results of his cancer research and his discovery of the TKTL1 gene to offer nutrition based on avoiding inflammation and maintaining stable blood sugar levels.
What sets your product apart from similar products?
Many snacks that pertain to be healthy are still loaded with ingredients that cause inflammation or raise blood sugar levels. We use a rich 54% chocolate as a carrier for the plant based fibre and concentrated vitamin E which offer various benefits. In addition the naturally derived rare sugars that we use do not cause blood sugar spikes (which in turn avoids insulin spikes) and are tooth-friendly in that they are non cariogenic. Owing to these original and unique factors our nutritional chocolate bar is patented.
How has your product evolved since you launched it?
We have evolved how we present our message. We soon realised that we were ahead of the curve with some of our ingredients and therefore had to refine our explanation. We offer a technical product and although it also caters for diabetics and coeliacs we see it as ‘the’ snack for anyone aiming for better nutrition.
Where can you buy your product and how much does it cost?
Following our participation in the Food Academy programme run by SuperValu, Bord Bia and the LEOs we have just gone nationwide across some 220 SuperValu stores. We are also available through Brown Thomas, Avoca, Applegreen, LloydsPharmacy, Fresh and independent health food stores and cafes. The RRP on the nutritional chocolate bar is €2.00
SuperValu also carry our chocolate covered almonds and cherries (using the same patented chocolate) at €5.49, our stevia at €9.90 and our organic coconut flour at €7.90. Our organic coconut oil in the 1 litre kilner jar is available through the other stores mentioned for €22.90 and our organic vegetable bouillon is €4.90.
What does the future hold for your business?
We are currently working on a new flavour chocolate which will be released in September; we are really excited about this as we have been experimenting with some great flavour combinations and we have come up with a real winner! We also have some other new products in the pipeline which will allow our ‘positive eating’ message to carry further.
We have just commenced with a number of export relationships, particularly in the UK so we will be working hard on that front.
Finally we have been selected to be a Nissan Generation Next brand ambassador – we are really excited to start driving in our new Qashqai which is designed like our nutritional chocolate bar in Mint so please give a wave if you see us around town and we’ll give you a bar!
What advice would you give to small food business start ups?
“Passion”. We participated in various business development programmes such as Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers and the SuperValu, Bord Bia, LEO Food Academy and although certain key messages were repeated by the various mentors the one that really resonated was “Passion”. You must have the right product to start with of course but its your belief in the product, your energy and passion that are needed to carry you through the many challenges and stresses of the first two years. Our passion to explain and share our product with customers kept us focused and motivated.