In late 2012, Te Atatu Toasted founder Clare Robinson took the plunge and started her own business making muesli after receiving positive feedback from friends. Robinson spoke to the team about new product Coco Crunchies, continuing growth and looking at export opportunities.
What is your company background, how did you start the business?
“My background has been in food manufacturing for 20 years. In the last few years, I have seen a trend in food manufacturing making food far more refined and less nutritious to keep costs down, and I think there is a market for foods made with whole and nutritious ingredients and less additives. I have made my own muesli for years and have always received fabulous feedback when making it for friends.”
What are the current product range and variants and how do these products stand out in the market?
“I have four products; three mueslis including Healthy Blend, Original Blend, and Gluten Free Blend, as well as the new Coco Crunchies. All are made from wheat-free, rice-free and corn-free ingredients. They also contain no refined sugars, no preservatives, sulphites, emulsifiers or any similar additives.
The Healthy Blend is 97 percent sugar-free, the lowest sugar muesli I have been able to find anywhere in the world, and sweetened only with a little New Zealand apple and honey. It’s lightly toasted and has a delicious apple/cinnamon flavour. Because it is made with whole oats and cinnamon, it is great for giving a sustained even energy and sugar release which is very beneficial to anyone but especially diabetics.
The Original Blend is similar to the Healthy Blend but has a little more honey, dried fruit and honey coated almonds so it is a little sweeter but at 11.4 percent sugar, it’s still less sweet than most mueslis on the market. This was made for people who like their cereal a little sweeter but still want it to be nutritious with whole ingredients and not laden with sugar.
The Gluten Free Blend is gluten-free muesli and it is very nutritious, filling and delicious. Unlike most gluten-free mueslis it contains no rice bubbles or cornflakes, as these offer very little nutritional value. Instead, this muesli is made with seeds, nutritious grains and lentils. This gives it a high fibre and protein content and also makes it very nutritious and filling.”
Has there been any recent company news?
“The Coco Crunchies cereal is reasonably new and has received quite a bit of favourable publicity. It is the latest addition to the range. It is very tricky to find children’s cereals that are not laden with sugar and other additives and most are made with highly refined ingredients. Coco Crunchies is like nothing else; it is made only with four organic ingredients including popped brown buckwheat, coconut oil, coconut sugar and Dutch coco powder. Also, at fewer than 15 percent sugar, its sugar content is far lower than typical kids’ cereals. Because there is nothing else like it on the market it answers a real pain point; difficulty in finding children’s cereals that are lower in sugar and without additives. There has been a real interest in this. Surprisingly, while I made this specifically for children, it is also very popular with adults too.”
What are the plans for the business moving forward, is there any expansion on the horizon?
“To continue the growth in retail (supermarkets and specialty stores). The range is also sold online via subscriptions, and this is a fast-growing area so we will continue to drive this. Thirdly, we are just getting into supplying cereals for companies that do in-house breakfasts. Finally, we are looking at export opportunities as they arise.”
Where are your products currently available to buy, and are you looking at or wanting to expand your availability? If so, where would you like to see the product situated?
“The products are available in selected food specialty stores and New World supermarkets. They are mostly stocked in Auckland stores, and I have just started getting the product out into the regions, starting with Waikato. Also, I’m keen to keep growing the monthly subscriptions and supplying breakfasts in the workplace.”