Omagh's Beam offers plant-based snacks which are free from the top 14 allergens
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Founder of Beam, which is based near Omagh, Shauna developed the plant-based snacks which are free from the top 14 allergens, are also gluten-free, high in fibre and compliant with the latest rules on saturated fat, salt and sugar.
The exciting range of healthier snack bars is now on sale in a network of stores run by top retailers Spinneys, Grandiose Stores and Waitrose and Partners in the affluent United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Shauna explains: “The orders, which we’ve been working on since 2021, are an immensely encouraging breakthrough for us in exports and especially to very significant global markets. They give us a solid springboard for further growth with major retailers throughout the Middle East and further afield.
“It’s still early relatively early days, of course, but it is really positive business for us after just a couple of years from the formation of our business. Initial introductions leading to the business were made by Invest NI’s representative in Dubai.”
The snacks are now on sale in around 30 Spinney’s supermarkets and the same number of those in the Grandiose network and cover the emirates of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Kaimah. Grandiose is among the fastest growing retailers in the region and has plans for a further 20 grocery outlets that specialise in premium food across the UAE this year.
Spinney’s is among the biggest supermarkets and has substantial stores in the UAE, Egypt, Qatar, Lebanon, Oman and Pakistan. Founded in 1924, Spinney’s has almost 80 stores in these countries.
Also based in Dubai, the UAE’s commercial centre, Waitrose and Partners has an extensive network of stores and substantial online sales.
“All the stores are ideal outlets for us due to their focus on quality and innovative foods. We’ll be doing everything we can to ensure the success of our snack bars in these and future outlets throughout the Middle East. Demand from consumers there for the type of healthier and free-from snacks that we are producing is growing strongly now,” continues Shauna.
Shauna was influenced to set up Beam from her own experience of dealing with allergies and food intolerances in her family over many years. Another influence was the growing market demand from consumers seeking foods free from allergens. She has a successful track of nutritious foods from Heavenly Tasty Organics, which she formed in 2009 to develop meals and snacks for babies and toddlers.
Shauna explains: “I created Beam when I struggled to find a healthy snack bar that I could bring into our home, that both me and my family could enjoy. All our products are now produced in a certified nut-free and gluten-free facility giving complete trust to our customers.
“Whilst for some, allergen free foods may form a lifestyle choice as part of a food trend, however, for many consumers this is a need state which remains under served. The free-from sector in the supermarkets didn’t exist when my children were diagnosed with food allergies, and whilst is has grown immensely over the past 15 years, there is still room for growth.”
Markets are manifestly moving in the direction of healthier foods. More than 20% of UK consumers say they are trying to avoid one or more allergens, and people with peanut allergy has doubled in the past 10 years.
Research shows the extent of the opportunity with 97% of UK households currently buying free-from foods and 72% focusing on high fibre products.
“Lifestyle changes are clearly underway in the UK and other established markets as consumers seek food and drink perceived to be healthier,” she adds.
Beam’s novel four-strong range of crispy puff snack bars represent a new stage in her focus on healthy eating and are also an important development in the plant-based sector in the UK, Ireland and further afield. There’s also a growing demand there for European products, especially from the UK and Ireland, that are offer healthy options and are outstandingly tasty. As the latest deals in the Middle East with influential retailers demonstrate, Beam is well-placed to become a significant exporter.
In addition to being free from peanuts, tree-nuts and gluten, the bars are free from milk, soy, eggs, sesame, lupin, fish, molluscs, sulphites and genetic modifications.
The bars are, furthermore, free from palm oil, the harvesting of which leads to deforestation in the rainforests of South America an East Asia.