Innovation is at the heart of any Irish business’s success on a national and global scale. Here, Irishfood takes a look at some of the Irish start-up companies that are identifying opportunities and starting to scale new heights
Over the last 10 years, Enterprise Ireland (EI) has invested €10m in high-potential food and drink companies. In that time, it has also conducted a piece of research into the scaleability of these companies. Some scaled and grew faster than others and EI wanted to discover why. The research established some common characteristics in the companies that grew faster: there was a high level of innovation; an internationalisation opportunity had been identified from the outset; there was technical food/drink expertise within the team; and there was access to capital.
According to Niall Coulston, who is EI’s team lead for high-potential start-ups in the food and drink sector, a ‘strategically considered point of differentiation’ and a ‘market-led innovation’ that has identified an under-served market comprise the secret to companies’ success. The other non-negotiable is having a sustainability strategy, which, today, goes hand in hand with innovation. “Historically, these were viewed as separate disciplines, but now they are very much merged,” explains Niall. “Unless you have a sustainable angle, you will not secure investment.” For , Niall selects three EI-supported Irish companies that are ticking all the boxes.
All Real Nutrition
Identified: Proliferation of artificial-ingredient protein bars.
Response: Creation of a natural protein bar that paved the way for a sustainable, healthy-snack business.
All Real Nutrition comprises a range of healthy protein bars in a variety of flavours, as well as protein nut butters. It is also building an All Real community of like-minded people, and with its All Real Clean Planet Project, is helping to make our world a cleaner place.
Niall says: “All Real Nutrition has an extensive retail footprint in Ireland and is taking a staged approach to US entry. It has a very strong sustainable drive. It is an excellent example of the intersection of innovation, differentiation and sustainability.”
Identified: Increasing demand for plant-based foods, and flexitarian opportunities.
Response: Creation of meat-free, chicken-free, egg-free, fish-free and vegetarian products.
Plant-It has created products that are GMO-free, sources of protein, fortified with vitamins and minerals, and are sustainably packaged. To complement its food-producing role and company ethos, it has partnered with Trees on the Land to dedicate a portion of the sales from every Plant-It product to tree-planting initiatives in Ireland and the UK.
Niall says: “Plant-It Foods launched in 2021 and has developed proprietary technology around texture and taste to deliver a range of exceptional plant-based foods. Initially started as a retail offering, Plant-it has strategically expanded to foodservice and food ingredients. The company is at the early stages of expansion to the US region.”
Identified: Lack of science-based and nutritionist-led meal supplements made from whole-food ingredients.
Response: Combine the best superfoods into wholesome and nutritious meal shakes.
Whole Supp works with leading experts in the fields of nutrition, science, medicine, and wellness to develop a high-protein superfood shake formulated with 13 superfoods.. Its Nourishing Superfood Shake, for example, contains superfoods, premium fats, proteins, fibres, antioxidants, electrolytes, and prebiotics. Its product pouches are home compostable, and its delivery box is 100% recyclable.
Niall says: “Whole Supp is massively committed to sustainability through home-compostable packaging and sustainably sourced ingredients. It is looking at B2B partnerships with sporting organisations and has a direct-to-consumer online offering also.”