The Brothers Green, aka Brad Lake and Brendon McIntosh who have now been joined by Michael Burnett, won last year’s FoodStarter competition - a partnership between Ministry of Awesome (MoA) and Foodstuffs South Island.  MoA is based at Te Ōhaka - the Centre for Growth & Innovation at Ara Institute of Canterbury.

The aim of the FoodStarter competition is to identify the most innovative and promising food or beverage product in New Zealand and then help the winner to produce it, in sufficient quantities and with all the right processes in place, to be able to retail it to scale.

“The $75,000 business incubation prize package includes product development from FoodSouth; brand and design guidance from Strategy Advertising; business acceleration support at Te Ōhaka - Centre for Growth & Innovation; guidance from the team at MYOB; and the biggest prize of all - guaranteed placement of the winning product in all New World supermarkets across the South Island," said Marian Johnson, Chief Executive of MoA.

“The Brothers Green were part of the first cohort of 20 entrepreneurs to enter Te Ōhaka in 2019. We are proud to surround them with the start-up acceleration and support they need to get market traction and recognition.”

Brendon McIntosh (aka te Kaiwhakahaere of The Brothers Green) says more than 98,000 of the company’s Green Hempy Bars are now in production – something that would not have been possible without the FoodStarter business incubation package and ongoing support from the Ministry of Awesome start-up activation team at Te Ōhaka.

“We want to educate the world about the huge nutritional and environmental benefits of hemp. Of course, this has to start with removing the stigma from hemp and any association with THC.”

“Our Hempy Bars were made for children and families. They are gluten free, dairy free, nut-free, low in sugar and 100% plant-based – all these characteristics are increasingly sought after by consumers. They really are a perfect superfood and snack for kids, and we’ve had a very enthusiastic response from all the children and adults who have tried them.”

Brad, a former rural banker (and now the Chief Regenerative Officer), Brendon (formerly a pharmacist with post-grad qualifications in nutrition) plus Michael Burnett ( ex-agribusiness professional and now General Manager and Chief Storyteller) have given up their regular day jobs to devote themselves to developing hemp-based products. As well as their bars, they have hemp clothing and skincare ranges, and in future are looking to contribute a percentage of their profits to fund mental health and addiction care for low-income Kiwis.

Foodstuffs South Island Chief Executive Steve Anderson said it is exciting to see innovative, small-scale companies like The Brothers Green getting their products on supermarket shelves.

“What often holds them back is access to expertise, R&D and barriers to market; FoodStarter helps remove these barriers. We want small suppliers who have clever ideas and great products to become part of the 100% Kiwi-owned and operated Foodstuffs family and grow with us. Winning products are not just born in big companies – innovative entrepreneurs and small businesses like the Brothers Green often disrupt the norm by using raw products in ways which can have major success," said Anderson.