Editor's Spotlight: Startup Focus
Cereal success: Pioneering prebiotic-packed breakfast brand hopes to fill the fibre gap
Helenor and Mike Rogers, founders of three-year-old brand Eat Troo, have said they will more than double sales of their granola and inulin syrup each year from 2019 thanks to the growing awareness of fibre and its impact on gut health.
The self-confessed foodies who have previously won the British reality cooking TV show ‘Couples Come Dine with Me’ started their business venture by making healthy freshly toasted granola to send to consumers in the post.
But after spooning in healthy sales for two years, they realised that gut health was where their future would lie so they launched gut healthy granolas sweetened with inulin and re-positioned themselves as a gut health brand. This new ingredient made their products so popular that they launched a pure inulin syrup 'Troo Spoon' the following year.
Helenor told NutraIngredients: “We have had feedback from consumers who have had digestive issues and have been recommended to take an inulin supplement. Many find this a little daunting as they don’t know how to ‘take’ inulin powder. Having it in granola or in the form of syrup in Troo Spoonful of Fibre is much more intuitive and feels more foodie.”
The mumpreneur explains that their interest in the gut evolved quite naturally as health concerned parents with family and friends affected by issues that could be avoided with better gut health.
“Close family members and friends suffer from mental illness," she adds, "so we’ve seen and experienced the impact that this has on them and the people who care for them. It’s a huge problem nowadays and the drugs by themselves are not the solution.
“My father survived bowel cancer which has many links with gut health; I do want to go through this myself or with anyone else in my family. Experiencing these illnesses first hand is a huge motivator.
“When we discovered that this could be potentially be reduced and even eradicated through a better understanding of the gut and it’s function in the body, we were hooked. We feel compelled to help people understand this emerging science and help them make better food choices.”
The range now consists of three low sugar, high fibre, gluten free granolas alongside a pure inulin syrup. The granolas use natural chicory root fibre (inulin) to sweeten as well as add fibre. When eaten the chicory root fibre moves through the gut to the large intestine mostly intact and works as a prebiotic feeding the good gut bacteria.
The syrup is marketed as "the easiest way to add prebiotic fibre to your diet" as it can be added to foods such as porridge in the same way as honey.
The Troo Future
Troo Granola is currently available in several stores and online in the UK but, looking forward, the new business buffs plan to expand beyond UK and at least double in size every year.
Helenor, who previously worked in marketing within the food industry, adds that 2019 is a big year of opportunity for the brand.
“We plan to double in size (at least) year on year over the next few years through distribution and rate of sale growth and also through NPD.
"Ultimately we want to be a well known household brand, recognised as pioneers in gut health, with a portfolio of delicious, tasty, convenient food that makes it easy for consumers to make the right food choices.
“In terms of future new product developments, we’re investigating on the go options as this is an eating occasion when the gut healthy choices can be limited.”
But the conscious couple want their business to benefit more than just consumers’ guts so they aim to become a Certified B corporation, meaning they will be legally obliged to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community and the environment. They have already ensured their products are plastic packaging free.
“Our purpose is as important as our profit and we want to ensure we are recognised as a business focused on doing good and leaving a positive mark on the world.”
The “fibre gap”
The mother-of-two believes that food labelling laws could be a big reason behind widespread fibre deficiencies.
“One of the most frustrating anomalies is that fibre is not mandatory under food labelling legislation. We contacted the Department of Health and Social Care who said ‘it was not considered essential to require the mandatory labelling of fibre’ – at a time when on average we consume only 18g of fibre compared to the recommended 30g and when only 6% of consumers know about the 30g of fibre recommendation. How crazy is that? We call this the fibre gap and it is something we are determined to help change.”
Educating the masses
With confusion still reigning over prebiotics versus probiotics, education is an important part of what Eat Troo does.
“Some people, especially older consumers, are aware of the importance of fibre overall in your diet; but this is more to do with bowel movements than with overall gut health," Helenor says.
“We, along with other brands, nutritionists, dieticians and other health professionals have a big role in helping people understand the importance of the food we are eating and the impact on gut health and consequent impacts on total health and wellbeing – we find this very exciting and motivating."
Stealing the spotlight
Mike will attend Probiota Europe 2019, in Copenhagen next month (February 13th-15th), and present Eat Troo to a conference room full of health and business experts.
After sorting through many applications from gut-health startup companies, judges selected Eat Troo and bio-tech company Nouri to attend the show as the winning trailblazing Pioneers.
The two entrepreneurs will take to the stage to present their businesses and receive some golden tips and advice from the esteemed conference attendees.