Delicious Healthy Snacks Just Got Real
13 February 2020
The Cofresh journey traces its roots back to the early 1960’s in Nairobi, Kenya, when Mr Dinesh Patel founded his Indian snack business, making crisps and popcorn for cinemas, shops, colleges and schools. In 1974, the family was forced out of its homeland, along with thousands of other Asians who had made their homes in the East African colonies, and found their way over to England. It was then that Mr Patel brought his passion and love for making delicious snacks here to the UK.
The Patels spent their savings on a fish and chip shop in Leicester and used the fryers – often in the middle of the night – to make Indian snacks. They started out with spicy peanuts and green peas, supplying Asian working men’s clubs, shops and pubs, and Dinesh was soon joined by his brothers and later his sons, including current managing director Priyesh – or Pete – Patel.
The family run business quickly expanded, and over the years, they introduced innovative and exciting snacks, ensuring the highest quality and taste, using only the best ingredients and flavours inspired from India. Within a couple of decades they started to sell its Bombay mixes and other savoury potato snacks, nuts, savoury mixes, snack bars and poppadum curls to ethnic food outlets, newsagents and convenience stores. They could soon be found in the world food aisles of Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons stores across the country.
Eat Real was launched in 2015 in response to the growing demand for ‘free from’ and vegan snacks. The range includes hummus, lentil and quinoa chips, quinoa puffs and veggie straws. “These snacks are ideal for consumers with specific dietary requirements but they’re also perfect for people who are making lifestyle choices and rejecting traditional snack and confectionery items in favour of ‘good for you’ products,” comments Debbie King, Director of Commercial Sales & Marketing at Eat Real. The Eat Real range – offering alternatives such as lower fat, vegan and gluten free snacks – is on sale in many of the nation’s health food stores as well as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons stores.
The business moved to its new 130,000 sq ft site in Leicester a few years ago, gaining almost five times more space for production and storage. The new warehouse over the road provides them another 70,000 sq ft and frees up production space at the existing plant. Pete – who was made an MBE and Deputy Lieutenant for Leicestershire last year – said it had taken a while to settle into the new headquarters, but now it was bursting at the seams. “Our biggest problem is space and we’ve got nearly 200 employees now. Around 60 per cent of this site is given over to production and we could extend that. Even though we’ve taken the big unit across the road I think the biggest challenge we face is finding space within the city to expand further.”
The business was looking ahead to the future with a strong new management structure including its finance, operations and technical directors and improved sales and marketing teams. The 46-year-old dad-of-two said: “The more time I can free up for myself, the more time I have to look for other challenges. On the other hand, Eat Real,” he said, “was the fastest growing snack brand in the “free from” category. Their overseas focus has been with Eat Real, as it’s been easier to target globally, exporting to around 40 countries. The Cofresh range is only exported to the Middle East, with a little bit in Germany.
At the moment everything is made in Leicester – although there is a small facility in Amabad in India that they will possibly start manufacturing from in the near future. The UK is still their number one market.’Eat Real declares its products as a ‘healthier’ alternative to regular potato-based snacking based on the average percentage of fat reduction compared to a standard potato chip. As well as a combination of the content of fat, sugars and salt in total and not just the calorie content. Eat Real products contain higher protein and fibre levels compared against regular potato snacks. Eat Real products have a base of alternative pulses rather than potato, which results in a huge reduction in acrylamide. In addition Eat Real uses rapeseed oil in production as it is a good source of both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat – rapeseed has the lowest saturated fat of any oil and ten times as much omega 3 as olive oil.
Eat Real snacks are based on three very simple concepts: 1-real taste 2-real ingredients 3-real nutrition.
“Healthy food is no longer considered a luxury – it’s becoming much more accessible to consumers seeking tasty, enjoyable and guilt-free alternatives,” adds Debbie King (Director of Commercial Sales & Marketing at Eat Real). “Healthy snacking is the biggest growth trend in the snacks category, but it’s vital that the products deliver not only on nutritional content but on taste, texture and flavour too. Like the existing Eat Real range of pulse and grain-based Hummus, Lentil and Quinoa Chips, Quinoa Puffs and Veggie Straws, they’re big on both flavour and texture. They look good and taste great, and are totally relevant to today’s health-conscious consumers and the growing trend for flexitarian diets.”
KLBD visits Eat Real exhibiting at Natural Organics Show 2019