Shaking up the food sector: The Nutribuddy story

Food & Drink | Interview

Business Leader recently met up with the founder of Nutribuddy, Ella McKendrick, to discuss how her company is shaking up the breakfast food market.

Can you give us an overview of Nutribuddy?

Nutribuddy is a company that specialises in selling high-quality vegan shakes. We pride ourselves in being unlike any other shake company on the market.

Unlike the majority of shakes that you come across, Nutribuddy shakes are composed entirely of natural whole-foods, completely rejecting artificial ingredients including vitamin blends.

There are a number of reasons why we went down this route. For example, actual foods are far easier to digest than artificial vitamin blends and some studies behind artificial sweeteners show they may have concerning side effects.

We wanted to make our range accessible to everyone and achieve this by making sure all our products are free from animal derivatives and any major allergens.

Nutribuddy works alongside Kelly Rose (BSc (Hons), PGCE, RNutr), a leading UK nutritionist, to ensure our formulas are healthy and nutritious.

What was the inspiration behind setting up the company?

Not having much time for food is an issue I am familiar with.

Whilst at school and in university, I prioritised an extra 10 minutes in bed over making breakfast plus I always felt it was too early to really eat that much.

Shakes would have been perfect for me as they take only a few seconds to make, but there wasn’t a single shake on the market that I wanted to consume.

Looking at ingredient lists I was saddened to see artificial sweeteners and a whole host of chemicals that I couldn’t even begin to pronounce. I care about what I put into my body and steer clear of anything artificial.

To me there was a clear gap in the shake market. I doubted I was the only one who wanted to eat a quick and healthy breakfast and so started to brain-storm.

I dropped out of university a few months later to set-up Nutribuddy.

How would you describe the growth of the company?

For the most part, growth is pretty steady. However there was one month, January 2018 to be exact, where we experienced 300% growth.

It was great, of course, but it was also a crazy time.

We had to scramble to find a facility as, up until this point, we had just been working out of my house. We also had to grow the team to keep up with demand.

During this period, we were working night and day. We had to keep on top of orders, hire new staff and move into a new facility.

I remember one snowy Saturday we worked from 8am till 3am the following morning moving our stuff over to the new facility. The next Saturday was exactly the same. It was exhausting!

What have been the challenges you have had to face in the last few years and how did you overcome them?

Having a business means there are constant challenges. Too many to list here! The most memorable challenge was trying to hire the right team.

A team is what makes up a company and without one I was having to juggle all aspects of the business alongside my partner, which was very hard.

But finding someone who was the right fit for their role and who also loved and wanted to stick around at Nutribuddy was a much bigger challenge than we anticipated.

We started trying to find people to take over various tasks about a year into the business going live. Only now, 3 years later, do I feel we finally have our team in place.

The only way to overcome this issue was to keep persisting and changing our processes when we identified why we had failed the previous time.

There were times when I felt like I couldn’t do it. But the only option I had was to dust myself off and try again.

In the end, all that time and effort has paid off.

Everything seems to work so beautifully now and the best part is that our team wants to be here and genuinely enjoy what they do. There’s nothing more rewarding than that!

How would you describe the rise of veganism and what trends are you currently seeing?

Veganism is huge at the moment. In 2016 there were an estimated 150,000 vegans in the UK but now there are over 600,000 vegans in the UK (according to a survey conducted in 2018 by the Vegan Society). That’s a huge increase!

There are many reasons why people are turning to a vegan diet. First of all, we are finally starting to question what we eat which makes us look at where our food comes from. But perhaps the most notable change has come from a desire to help the environment.

As climate change is brought to the forefront of people’s minds, I think more people will start to cut down on animal products.

What are the future plans for the company?

We want to continue to expand our range of cruelty-free products. We also want to put even more focus on producing environmentally-friendly packaging. At the moment we do sell reusable jars and cardboard tubs but we can and will continue to do better.

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