Editor's Spotlight: Startup Focus
Rolling in dough: Healthy bread start-up wins TV dragon investment
Polish entrepreneur Robert Sak says sales have catapulted for his Polish flour-free breads brand Pure Grain Bread since the airing of the UK show which he accepted dragon Deborah Meaden’s £40k investment for a 20% slice of the business.
The breads contain whole grains and seeds making them a good source of omega-3, fibre and protein. The range includes products appropriate for consumers following a gluten, wheat, sugar or dairy free diet or Low GI and GL diets.
Sak told NutraIngredients business has been ‘manic’ since the show aired.
“It’s been absolutely manic, honestly, orders from Waitrose and Ocado have gone shooting up to three or four times as much as normal and I think some of the stores ran out on Monday so response from the show has been amazing.
“100g of the bread provides 12-15g of fibre – so one slice provides about one third of your recommended daily intake of fibre. This is ideal as the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) has said, on average, we only get about 18g of fibre per day when government guidelines state we should be getting 30g, so we are missing out on one third of our daily fibre needs.”
Using the slogan “the world’s healthiest bread – probably”, Sak feels confident his breads make a real difference to consumers with special dietary requirements.
“The dragons said, on the show, that I’m very passionate about the product. I am, but wasn’t passionate about this before I started making the bread. When I started developing the bread and I started to look into all the different health benefits and received responses from customers, it was so amazing that it got me more involved in wanting to make better and better products.
“Many people over the age of 50 suffer with digestive issues and I have had so many people email me to tell me how much this bread has helped with their gut issues. It’s great that I’m not only really happy with how the business is doing but I’m helping people too.”
Footy to foody
Sak moved to England in 1987 to try to make it as a professional footballer but a knee injury saw him move into a career in catering in the UK before moving back to Poland. It was in 2004 when Poland joined the EC that he returned to the UK and started importing and selling Polish foods to Polish stores.
It wasn’t until 2015 that Sak decided to work with his baker friend to try to make a new product using traditional Polish baking techniques but making the bread more health-focused.
“It took us a long time to create the bread and an even longer time to make it commercially viable but I finally started selling my first bread products through Waitrose one and a half years ago but business really started to take off when I brought out the gluten free bread in April this year.
“On Dragon’s Den I mentioned I was turning over £300,000 annually but it’s now more like £1.2million.”
Desapite being offered investment from three dragons, he accepted Meaden’s offer as he wanted to benefit from her many contacts in the organic food industry.
Deborah Meaden says: “The free from and vegan food sector has been growing steadily and Heart of Nature Pure Grain Bread is as free from as you can get! However, being really good for you is not enough, the product needs to look and taste great…which this does (particularly toasted with some avocado spread on top mmm). The combination of a great product in a strong market and in the hands of a focused and smart Entrepreneur…..won me over! I am most definitely IN!”
Ursula Arens, freelance nutrition writer, provides Sak with advice and endorses the products.
She says: “Very few people consume enough fibre, but Heart of Nature is packed full of it. In fact, just one slice provides a fifth of the recommended daily intake and a whopping 50% more than is needed to qualify a product as high in fibre! It’s also full of health boosting nutrient-rich seeds and unlike other products which are labelled as ‘healthy’, the Heart of Nature range truly deserves top seed status.
“There are so many products on food shelves making so many claims about health: it is really confusing for consumers. However these breads contain lots of nutrient-rich seeds, and are a very rich source of fibre. The breads have a dense chewy texture, and are a very satisfying snack or side with meals. So many cereal bars are promoted as healthy, but a quick check of ingredients can give the opposite impression”.
Pure Grain Revolution range offers unique types of breads and rolls, presents a choice, which would satisfy the most demanding foodies. It includes products with Cranberry, Prunes, Chia Seeds, White Quinoa, Wild Garlic and Turmeric
An additional three gluten free rolls were added to the range just this month.