When two obsessive foodies got together and sold 100 pies in under an hour at the Clevedon Farmers Market back in 2008, the scene was set for a NZ business success story. Ten years on, the I Love Food Co, which makes the I Love Pies range of savoury pies, sweet pies and sausage rolls, has its products stocked in supermarkets across NZ.
Last year the company launched the I Love Baking range of cookies which are sweetened with date puree. These were received very positively by consumers and the company is continuing to look at other high quality innovative products.
What is your company background, how did you start the business?
With pies something of an icon in our national diet, Maree Glading and Jessie Stanley founded the company on the belief that New Zealanders are hungry for great pies.
“Kiwis love pies,” says Maree. “They’re part of the Kiwi diet - they’re warm and comforting, and the perfect on-the- go-food. Yet for all that, people are often left disappointed with what they find on offer.”
Both avid cooks, Maree and Jessie share a background in product innovation, in marketing and food technology respectively.
After a few years abroad, the pair returned to New Zealand to raise their families, and were looking for a change from the corporate grind. They were unimpressed by what they saw as a lack in true product innovation, and the use of poor quality of ingredients in mass-produced pies “full of gristle and gloop.”
Seeing an opportunity in the growing consumer demand for “real food”, they set about making pies using fresh, quality New Zealand grown ingredients, nothing artificial and fillings good enough to be eaten on their own.
Launching at Clevedon Farmers’ Markets in February 2008, they found the markets a great way to fine-tune their product, says Jessie. “Each week we modified our recipes until we knew we had something that people loved.”
After getting their product into Farro, the supermarkets followed suit and they now have product distribution across the country.
What is the current product range and variants and how do these products stand out in the market?
The range consists of premium savoury and sweet pies in flavours based on Kiwi classics with a gourmet twist - such as Angus Beef Steak with Caramelised Red Onion, Chicken Leek and Mustard and Smoked Fish with Creamy Béchamel Sauce.
Ingredients are sourced from “growers and farmers who care about their food like we do”, says Maree.
Also unique to I Love Pies is the light flavoursome pastry, made with sour cream and real butter as opposed to margarine and other additives and preservatives used by mass-produced pie makers.
The pies are handmade fresh each week to order, and no two pies look exactly the same. Finished with a signature pastry heart on top, each large family pie even has the individual maker’s name written on the back of the pack.
“While a little more expensive than mass-produced pies at around $18 for a family-sized pie - which can feed four - demand for a better product was well established in the first year of business”, says Jessie.
The company has recently expanded its range of products - the I Love Baking brand was launched at the end of May last year, with a range of cookies available in supermarkets and gourmet food stores across New Zealand.
Under the concept of 'Made by Mums, for Mums' the cookies have been phenomenally successful. Twenty percent of the sugar in the cookies (which is organic unrefined sugar) has been replaced with the natural goodness of date puree, and they contain wholegrain oats and butter as opposed to palm oil. They don't contain any other nasties like MSG, artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.
Where are your products currently available to buy, and are you looking at or wanting to expand your availability?
Our products are also stocked at all major supermarkets around NZ, along with gourmet food stores including Farro and Moore Wilson.
The company has experienced excellent growth year on year and the company is exporting to China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and the Pacific Islands. The pies are also available on Air NZ flights and at Eden Park.