Having already had a runaway success with their high protein bites, Chirps, the entrepreneurial duo behind Two Chicks are hoping to use the growing popularity of Pancake Day as a platform for launching a new product – one that they hope will also be consumed year round.
Anna Richey and Alla Ouvarova told us about the origins of the business, what it’s like building a company in the food sector and the power of branding.
Please tell me a little about the origins and development of the business?
Two Chicks was launched in August 2007. After spending some time in Los Angeles, one of us (Anna) had witnessed the popularity of egg white omelettes and the market for ready separated egg whites. Spotting a gap in the UK market, the two of us set about launching Two Chicks in the UK.
The range now includes a liquid whole egg, pancake mix and Chirps – high protein bites made with egg white. They are stocked in every UK multiple as well as overseas.
What market trends is it taking advantage of?
Two Chicks is about the drive for a combination of healthy, convenient products. People are increasingly time poor but don’t want to compromise on quality and taste. Plus, there is the focus on the importance of protein and high protein foods – all the retailers and cafes now offer protein pots, for example. Finally there is a movement away from sugar to protein, to keep you feeling fuller for longer and keep your blood sugar stable.
What are the unique challenges of building a business in the food sector?
Sourcing product and breaking into the supermarkets is hard. Dealing with price changes and fluctuations is also a challenge. Competing with hundreds of other products with a much bigger marketing spend than you has also been something we’ve had to overcome – as has finding creative ways to make your product stand out.
How have you gone about getting your products stocked in major supermarkets – what unique advice can you share?
It’s important to locate whoever you feel to be the right buyer, email them a presentation, put in calls and follow-up emails until you get a meeting in the diary. Do this every day. So basically, it is important to believe in your product and never give up.
What do you think buyers at these kind of retailers are looking for?
They are after new and innovative products with incremental category sales. They also like products with a differentiating factor and an obvious appeal to consumers – products that fill a gap in the market.
How have you gone about creating a distinct brand for your business and its products – what have the challenges been here?
With Two Chicks, we have created a fun brand with a personality – with us behind the brand, we are literally the two chicks! That is something large companies cannot do so it is vital to exploit that advantage.
Have you had any success in getting well-known advocates of your products, and how did you go about doing this if so?
Yes, we do! We have been very fortunate to have had some great people using our products which has really helped with getting our brand out there and increasing sales.
We have targeted well-known chefs and cooking shows with our egg white. As a result, it has appeared on MasterChef, Saturday Kitchen, and Nigella Lawson used it on her Christmas Special.
Your latest product is being launched around pancake day, but how do you make it something bought year round?
This will be done by giving the public different recipe ideas, for breakfast, lunch and dinner and creating a story whereby pancakes are not just for Pancake Day, but can be eaten all year round in the way that they are on the continent.
Our mix is gluten and lactose-free, so that it appeals not only to those wanting pancakes and/or a convenient meal option, but those with food intolerances or individuals buying free-from products because they believe them to be a healthier option. It is, therefore, a unique product with incremental category sales and year round appeal.
How will you go about picking your next products – how do you make sure they’ll be a success?
Ideally it would be something new, something that hasn’t been done before. We would of course do market research, talk to our contacts and buyers. It’s about finding a gap in the market.
What three pieces of advice would you give for succeeding in the food sector?
Make sure you have a great product with a reliable supply chain. Work hard, and don’t be surprised if it takes longer than you think.
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