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Nobó moving into UK market

By Jim Cornall+

21-Jan-2016

A new avocado-based ice-cream is now on the market in the UK
A new avocado-based ice-cream is now on the market in the UK

Dairy-free Irish food company Nobó will have its award-winning ‘Frozen Goodness’ ice-cream alternative range stocked in 310 Co-operative stores across the UK.

Frozen Goodness is Nobó’s dairy-free alternative to ice-cream that uses avocado in its base instead of cream.

The company is the brainchild of Dublin-based husband and wife team, Brian and Rachel Nolan. They returned to Ireland from New York City to start up a food business.

The couple told DairyReporter about the product’s origins.

From kitchen to farmers markets

“We came up with the concept about four years ago. We wanted to start a business and try to come up with a version of ice cream that didn’t have any refined sugar or gums or stabilizers and that happened to be dairy free,” Brian Nolan said.

“We started in our own kitchen, it took about two years to come up with a commercial product that we could bring to market, initially trying to come up with a recipe and supplying to a few farmers’ markets.

“Then we rented a commercial kitchen in the very center of Dublin for about six months where we continued to refine the recipe. Just as we launched into stores we found a manufacturing partner.”

Launched to Dublin-area health food stores

He said that they had a dedicated community of people who were coming every week and buying the ice cream.

After nearly two years in development with the support of the Food Works program – a joint initiative between Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland and Teagasc to support food entrepreneurs – the company’s range was launched in a limited number of health food stores in the Dublin area in November 2013.

“People knew the product, so the minute we were on a shelf, the product was selling,” Brian said.

Challenges of product trials

The development was, according to Rachel, the biggest challenge.

“We loved the idea of using avocado, it has creamy properties, so we thought it would be good to us that to give the fat content, then we tried adding different things like cashew and almond milk, different sweeteners,” she said.

“We tried agave, and we talked to different nutritionists along the way. We wanted it to not only taste as good as possible but also nutritionally the best version it could be, so in the end we decided that honey would be the best option. We found a coconut milk that was just coconut milk and water. Then trialling on different machines! We needed to be able to make it on a commercial scale.”

Avocado increases cost

Using avocado as a base drives up the cost of the product, but Brian says they factored that in to their business plan.

“One of our main challenges was we knew it would be a higher price point, and trying to figure out if the consumer would pay it, but luckily we’re finding that as recent trends are going, people look at labels a little more and trying to understand what they’re eating, and that works for us,” he said.

Rachel added, “There are coconut milk ice creams, but there are none that have the purity of ingredients – our vanilla flavor only has four ingredients in it, so that’s really unique.”

Bord Bia was also instrumental in the product being introduced to Spinneys and Waitrose in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, where it is stocked in 54 stores.

New products planned

Two flavors are initially available in the UK, Lemon & Vanilla and Coconut, each with an RRP of $7.45 (£5.25) for a 500ml pot.

This new listing brings to more than 800 the number of stores that Frozen Goodness is now available in across Ireland, the UK and the UAE.

The Nobó Frozen Goodness range currently includes five flavors, with a limited edition Mint Humbug flavor, which was available for the Christmas season, and the Nolans say there will be another limited edition product coming this year.

Nobó recently won the Innovation award at the Bord Bia Food Awards 2015.

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