Processor-turned-manufacturer aims to grow presence in snack bar market

By Vince Bamford

- Last updated on GMT

Western Commodities' Good Full Stop range comprises six bars
Western Commodities' Good Full Stop range comprises six bars

Related tags Rice bran Cocoa butter

Food importer and processor Western Commodities is ramping up its finished products business following the debut of snack bar brand Good Full Stop.

Twelve months after the launch of the six-strong range of flavored date and nut bars, the UK business is planning to extend into the sports nutrition market and has set its sights on securing mainstream retail listings.

Good Full Stop bars are currently available in health food stores including the Holland & Barrett chain, and are exported to Dubai and South Africa. The 35 g bars, which have a recommended retail price of £0.80 ($1.13), are free from gluten and dairy, and are suitable for vegans. Each contains a blend of dates, date syrup, nuts and natural flavorings.

Largest dates importer

Western Commodities was founded in 1998 as a trading company selling fruit and nuts, and expanded into importing commodities such as dates.

It is now the UK’s largest dates importer, has acquired two food processing businesses and recently extended its processing and warehousing facilities in Devon to 50,000 sq ft. The business processes commodities, such as dates and nuts, into ingredients including date paste and breakfast cereals

Founder Richard Stoker said he had seen how quickly the bars market was growing from what his customers were doing.

It is a very crowded market​,” he told BakeryAndSnacks. “We didn’t want to copy what’s out there, we wanted to produce a bar that is not just healthy but also tastes great​.”

The business had considered getting one of its ingredients customers to make the bars, but opted to manufacture them itself as this would enable it to be more competitive.

Good Full Stop range

The Good Full Stop bar range comprises:

Cherry Sweet and Cherry Good​ (cherry and maple)
Ingredients: dates, cashews, rice bran, maple syrup, cherry juice concentrate, freeze dried cherries, natural flavoring,

Sun Kissed and Good​ (chocolate and orange)
Ingredients: dates, cashews,
raisins, rice bran, chocolate 8% (cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, fat-reduced cocoa powder, emulsifier: soya lecithin), date syrup, orange peel 5%, natural flavoring

Chocolate is Twice as Good​ (double chocolate)
Ingredients: dates, cashews, 
chocolate 20% (cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, fat-reduced cocoa powder, emulsifier: soya lecithin), rice bran, date syrup, natural flavoring
Very Nutty and Very Good​ (cashew, hazelnut and almond)
Ingredients: dates, mixed nuts 29% (cashews, hazelnuts, almonds), rice bran, raisins, date syrup, salt
Berry Berry Good​ (raspberry)
Ingredients: dates, cashews, rice bran, raisins, date syrup, freeze-dried raspberries 1.5%, natural flavoring
Cool, Minty and Good​ (chocolate and mint)
Ingredients: dates, cashews, rice bran, chocolate 8% (cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, fat-reduced cocoa powder, emulsifier: soya lecithin), date syrup, natural flavoring

As we were already doing things in house– importing the dates, making the date paste that people make bars from – it made sense to put the ingredients through another machine in the next room​,” said Stoker.

Investment in equipment

Western Commodities has invested about £250,000 ($353,00) in new kit to produce the bars.

We are processors so we had the factory facilities and infrastructure​,” said Stoker. “We also had the technical capability in terms of quality control so it wasn’t like setting up an entirely new business – though it was quite a leap​.”

A key consideration throughout the process has been taste, added Stoker.

Taste and appeal is as important to us as making something that is healthy​,” he said. “There are a lot of healthy products out there that people eat because they are healthy – we want to get to the consumer who buys a bar because they want a piece of confectionery​.”

An example of this is the use of chocolate in some of the bars, he pointed out.

Rather than putting carob or raw cocoa powder – which can be de rigueur in this category – we put in a bit of chocolate. It’s not going to kill you, it will taste great and you are still eating a healthy, nutritious bar​.”

'Seaweed versus chips'

I talk about it in terms of seaweed and chips with mayonnaise​,” he added. “If you’ve got a scale with seaweed at one end – terrifically healthy but tastes a bit like seaweed - and you’ve got chips with mayonnaise at the other end – not so healthy but, wow, does it taste great – we want our taste to be right up there, but also want to be knocking on the door of seaweed in terms of being natural and healthy​.”

Stoker said the business will, however, be switching to a sugar-free chocolate in future.

Further development will include the launch of an organic bar in September, ahead of expansion into sports nutrition.

We have got a very interesting brand to enter that market with, and have developed the best-tasting, high-protein sports nutrition bar​,” he claimed.

Wider distribution aim

In the shorter term, Good Full Stop will be one of the sponsors of the UK’s National Vegetarian Week in May, and is targeting wider distribution.

We would like to get a listing with a multiple retailer​,” said Stoker. “We feel we are ready in terms of manufacturing capability and process functionality at the factory​.”

Exports are also a key growth area, with the brand about to go into Iceland and planning to expand into Holland, Belgium, Malta and Bulgaria.

Now we think that we learnt enough about what we are doing, we are going to push the brand​, added Stoker. “Now the task is to open up the consumer to our product​.”

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