07 Mar 2018 | 09.03 am
Nüdest Yoghurt Blends Going Down A Treat
Fiona Keane's startup sells healthy yoghurt in squeezy packs
07 Mar 2018 | 09.03 am
Shoving spoonfuls of yoghurt into your mouth while driving or commuting on train isn’t ideal, so Fiona Keane (pictured) decided to develop an alternative. She launched Nüdest Foods in 2016, selling squeezy pouches of Greek-style yoghurt blended with fruit and grains.
The low sugar, vegetarian-friendly Nüdest products are designed to be consumed directly from the pouch, and retail for around €2.85. The squeezy pouch idea is ubiquitous in products marketed for children, but Fiona found it to be an under-served niche for adults. She now sells her Nüdest blends in Ireland, the UK and Belgium, and is finding traction in Asian markets.
Originally from Tipperary, Fiona worked in the arts sector before taking up a post in a motivational speakers company run by her sister, Frances. The idea for Nüdest came during her on-the-job travels. “I could never find a snack that was healthy and user-friendly when on the go,” says Fiona. “The choices always involved spoons and wasteful packaging, or products that could easily spilled and were full of sugar and preservatives.”
Fiona concocted some samples and conducted tastings and focus group research among Irish and UK consumers. The feedback was positive, so she began the business. “There was a bit of pivoting along the way and we launched in July 2016 in Ireland and in the UK in October 2017.”
Two blends comprise the Nüdest range: one with banana, oats, honey and vanilla, while the other contains apple, pear, wheat grain and cinnamon. Both use Greek-style yoghurt and a third blend, mixing berries and coconut, is due for launch later this year.
Fiona sources the yoghurt from Killowen Farm in Wexford, while manufacturing is outsourced to a company in Belgium. “We can’t get our products made in Ireland, as we cannot find required manufacturing capabilities,” says Fiona.
Nüdest’s stockists include Spar, Mace and Londis in Ireland while a listing with Musgraves is imminent too. “We also sell into the Hong Kong Football Club, one of the biggest sports clubs there, thanks to a connection from by brother,” says Fiona.
“Yata, a Japanese supermarket chain, also stocks us. Our market is more a mindset than a numbers game. If you target the stockists that match your target market then the listings are easier to secure. However, it is the follow-up, distribution and merchandising that is really important.”
Around 150,000 pouches have been sold so far, and strong brand design is helping Nüdest stay visible in the crowded health food segment. “From the start I worked with Gavin Beattie Design in Greystones. I also work with a branding agency, which helps define what the brand is about.”
Enterprise Ireland invested €100,000 in Nüdest last year, while Fiona’s brother David invested €150,000. Fiona also used accelerator programmes to her advantage, participating in the Food Works programme and Thrive, a six-month initiative organised by EI and Coca-Cola. “Thrive was a most generous course, with people in top management giving their time to help us. Dan Germain, Nick Canney and Tim Casey of Innocent drinks were really insightful.”
Employing three people and based outside Nenagh, Fiona says the biggest challenge has been bringing a new concept to market and supporting that route to market in the most efficient way.
“Secondly, having to work with very large minimum run orders are a huge challenge for us, as that can wreak havoc with cashflow. Business is all about building strong relationships with the right people, from your family to the cyclist enjoying your snack up the Sally Gap!”