After finding out that their daughter was dairy intolerant and struggling to find suitable dairy free replacements, Darren and Celeste Foreman decided to do it themselves. They spoke to Supermarket News about their journey.
What is your company background, how did you start the business?
“Our youngest daughter is dairy intolerant, which is how we noticed a gap in the market. Easter was the worst time in our household as it was so hard to find any chocolate treats for her. It then came to us that we needed to give this a go – who wouldn't like to work with chocolate after all?! Naivety and sheer willpower are what got us to where we are today. Chocolate is a hard product to work with and it really isn't as easy as it may look! We were lucky enough to find someone here in Tauranga who shares the same passion and ideals about having this chocolate pure and without any additives (including dairy) which means the chocolate itself is really allergy friendly. We are a pretty new family business and have only been selling our chocolates since Easter, starting just at the local market. We currently have five flavours and decided to start with a smaller range to get a feel if customers liked what we were making – the response has been far better than we could have ever hoped for. It took us nearly two years to get to the point where we were ready and happy to start selling our chocolates. We may have been a bit fussy, but to us we wanted as many people as possible to be able to enjoy them especially as there can be a bit of a stigma around allergy friendly products sometimes not tasting quite as good. It took hundreds of batches of fillings to get them as good as they are today and to such a standard that some people doubted that they are dairy free (a caramel that has no cream or butter?) which is exactly what we were aiming for. We certainly have been very ambitious!”
What are the current product range and variants and how do these products stand out in the market?
“There are five flavours in our starting range which we are planning to expand as we grow. We believe we are the only chocolatiers in New Zealand to use a single origin chocolate made from bean to bar in New Zealand. We solely use 70 per cent dark chocolate in all our whole range and they are all dairy, soy and gluten free and are slightly healthier options. The cacao beans are grown in the Solomon Islands and the beans are made into chocolate by Solomon’s Gold right here in Tauranga. Most of our ingredients are sourced either locally or from New Zealand producers so everything we use is of a premium quality. There are also no artificial flavours or preservatives in our chocolates, only fresh natural ingredients which is why they are so yummy.”
Has there been any recent company news?
“We are now looking at getting our chocolates into retail shops in the next few weeks, once our six box has been re-designed. Firstly just in Tauranga and if they do well we will branch out to retail shops in other cities and towns.”
What are the plans for the business moving forward, is there any expansion on the horizon?
“We want to take a new exciting product to New Zealanders, getting as many people to try this new product as possible. We are going to extend our range of flavours and look to being able to customise the tops of the chocolates with corporate brands or logos or even messages for other special events like weddings.”
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?
“At the moment we will be at the Tauranga Farmers Market until the end of September. We sell online - our website is www.hamani.co.nz and hopefully soon in retail stores. Keep an eye out on our website as we will update this with a list of retailers.”