The journey for Sarah Worthington began from the ground up, selling her artisan products to other like-minded Kiwis at local markets. As a young graduate and passionate foodie, she had a drive to create a positive product of her own. Sarah chatted with the team about expansion and the Chia Cup being born.
What is your company background?
"I added a unique avenue of reaching the target market through running a breakfast bench at Body Tech Gym in Mt Eden. This allowed for open dialogue with customers, resulting in a unique product, as well as flavour combinations people actually want. The brand and products have grown with the current market and reflect the customers of today.
The Vital Bowl was established underpinned by strong values around using top of the line, high-quality ingredients that have countless nutritional benefits. We offered premium breakfast products which showcase our belief in bringing food back to the basics and cutting out unwanted sugar. I applied these values to my market stall, brand and products, took the plunge and began product development in partnership with Fresh To Go for a retail offering I could sell in supermarkets."
How did you start the business?
"The business was started last year. My studies gave me the knowledge to progress my passion and were based on our food choices; culture, sensory perception, food quality, diet, nutrition and marketing. The Vital Bowl was born when my passion inspired me to rethink processed, sugar-loaded breakfast cereals. The undeniable facts about the negative effects of sugar on the body and brain led me to cut down the white stuff in my own diet. Breakfast was the most difficult to reduce sugar due to hidden sugars in low-fat yoghurt, cereals and fruit. I began crafting my own muesli, porridge and chia cup creations."
What are the current product range and variants and how do these products stand out in the market?
"Our product range of Chia Cups includes two naturally flavoured, low fructose variants; Tropical Passion and Raspberry Zing. These are available in a grab’n’go style 230g cup or large 2kg food service bags. This product is a great alternative for a typical breakfast or snack food for people on the go. A uniquely crafted blend of premium ingredients provides a nutritious energy-boosting breakfast… made easy. Chia Cups cater to the many specific dietary requirements of the market while remaining highly convenient; gluten free, dairy free, vegan, no added sugar, and preservative free. Chia Cups have an impressive 25-day shelf life and are completely preservative free. Cold processing has been used to ensure the full nutrition, taste and colour of the fruit are preserved. The coconut cream gives Chia Cups a creamy texture while providing healthy, medium-chain fatty acids. Each flavour has been lightly sweetened with a 100 percent natural sweetener from the Stevia plant. This provides a healthy, natural alternative to artificial sweeteners and sugar. Cold Pasteurisation (HPP) is an innovative and natural way of preserving food without adding chemicals or preservatives. It uses high pressure to kill harmful, food spoiling bacteria; pressure that is many times greater than you would find in the deepest part of the ocean."
Has there been any recent company news?
"Being such a new company, we have not had any major changes to date. We are currently working on new flavours, product variants and growing our wholesale outlets."
What are the plans for the business moving forward, is there any expansion on the horizon?
"I am always thinking forward, looking at the bigger picture and striving to achieve my goals. We plan to expand our product range in flavours and sizes to gain more presence on the shelf and cater to different customers. We also wish to expand into the food service industry through cafes and caterers incorporating our large 2kg chia mixes into their menus. Lastly, expanding our products into the South Island is also on the cards for the future.'
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?
"Our products are currently available to buy from select New Worlds, Farro Fresh, Huckleberry Farms, Harvest Wholefoods, Moore Wilsons, The Green Grocer, and a small number of cafés and gyms. We would like to expand into more New Worlds, speciality food stores and gas stations. Our other focus is on the food service industry. We have created 2kg bags of our chia mix for cafes/catering businesses to incorporate into their own menus."