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The future looks healthy for new food manufacturer thanks to support from Berkshire Growth Hub

From super gardeners to superfood manufacturers, an entrepreneurial couple from Bracknell have turned their knowledge and passion for healthy gluten-free food into a growing business with the support of the Thames Valley Berkshire Business Growth Hub.

In the last six months, Nomad Health has quickly expanded its product range from gluten-free Superseed and Supergrain pastas to reduced sugar jams, chutneys and pumpkin seed oils, successfully secured funding via a government start-up loan, grown its customer base, secured listings with a wholesaler, been awarded a collection of Great Taste Awards and was named as a finalist in the UK Paleo Awards.

Sold through farm shops, health food shops, independent retailers, food festivals and online, Nomad Health offers seven types of gluten-free and dairy-free pastas, which include Millet Fusilli with a hint of Turmeric, Green Banana Penne, Quinoa Fusilli, Flaxseed Penne and a Sesame Fusilli.

The creators of Nomad Health, Keith and Marianna Pentek, were inspired to start the business when they found it difficult to find foods they could both eat due to their special dietary requirements. With Keith being diabetic and Marianna being coeliac, they decided the answer was to make their own food and signed up for a pasta making course. They began experimenting with ingredients such as ancient grains and seeds they knew of as gardeners.

Keith explains: “We started by making pasta for friends and they encouraged us to try selling it. We then tested the market with trials for six to 10 months. The first pastas we made were our millet and sesame varieties. After that, came our Supergrain pastas.

“Our products represent a healthier option without compromising on taste. We produce good honest, nutritional food. Our aim has always been to build an ethical brand that people can trust. We are transparent about what is in our products and how we make it. There are no GMO ingredients, emulsifiers, gum or artificial preservatives in our pastas.”

In June 2018, the couple realised they needed additional advice and support to take their business to the next step. They searched for companies offering business support programmes, but as a start-up business they couldn’t afford their fees. Continuing their searching online, they came across the Berkshire Growth Hub and applied for its free High Growth Programme.

“We needed help to take our business to the next level,” explains Marianna. “We had used our own funds to finance the business up to this point and we’d got to the stage where we wanted to get listed with wholesalers. To do this, we needed to raise funds to be able to increase our stock levels. We also felt we needed advice on IT systems, sales and marketing.”

The Growth Hub’s High Growth Programme provides 12 hours of impartial and tailored support for eligible businesses based in Berkshire. Clients on the programme receive a mix of one-to-one meetings with their designated business adviser, one-to-one advice clinics with industry experts and workshops.

Marianna continues: “The High Growth programme really worked for us. We were assigned a business adviser, who really knew their stuff and took the time to understand our business. They told us about the government’s start-up loan scheme, put us in touch with a funding expert, helped us put together a business plan and a financial forecast. At each meeting with our adviser or clinic expert, we received great advice and specific actions.

“I don’t think we would have known about or had the confidence to apply for a start-up loan if it wasn’t for the Berkshire Growth Hub. Securing these funds has enabled us to increase our stock levels and in turn get listed with our first wholesaler – exposing us to over 22,000 potential customers. We are also now listed on Amazon, opening us up to over 48 million Amazon users.

“The programme has helped us grow faster and expand our range to include oils, jams and chutneys. Food manufacturing is a different skill set for us, but the support we received has enabled us to put in place efficient systems and processes. We have even hired a part-time member of the team to help us with our retailer listing.”

The latest additions to the Nomad Health range include Pumpkin Seed oils in 100ml, 250ml and 500ml as well as a range of jams and gourmet chutneys with reduced sugar and high fruit content, which are suitable for vegans and gluten-free. Flavours include; Apple and Sea Buckthorn Jam, Summer Berry Jam, Caramelised Onion Chutney and Pineapple and Chilli Chutney.

Marianna explains: “We cannot recommend the Berkshire Growth Hub highly enough. The advice has been invaluable to our business and the programme has been a worthwhile investment of our time. The future is bright. Over the coming year, we’ll be looking to extend our production levels and increase our listings. Thanks to the support of the Growth Hub, we expect to triple our turnover in the next couple of years.”

Thames Valley Berkshire Business Growth Hub offers fully funded, impartial support services and expert one-to-one advice to start-ups and established businesses in Berkshire. The service includes free clinics and masterclasses on a range of business issues, alongside a special High Growth programme to provide tailored support to SMEs with high growth potential.

Delivered by Oxford Innovation Services, the service is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

For further details on the Berkshire Business Growth Hub’s range of fully funded support services, including its High Growth Programme, click here or email info@berkshirebusinesshub.co.uk.

For more information on Nomad Health and its products, visit www.nomadhealth.uk 

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