Here at Amazing Food & Drink, we love taking any excuse to sit down to talk about those all-important topics: snacks. We had the opportunity to do just that in the most recent episode of our series, sitting down with Jonathan and Andy Laverty, directors of snack company Wolf & Woodsman. We chat to two out of the three partners involved in the project, discussing the trials, tribulations and taste sensations behind their sweet potato crisp company. Grab a packet, tune in and check it out!

Growing A Snack Business – Wolf & Woodsman

We are joined by siblings Jonathan and Andy – brothers, friends and two of the main minds behind Wolf & Woodsman (a third partner, David Knowles, unfortunately can’t join us in the studio). For these two brothers – two out of a sibling trio of triplets – an entrepreneurial spirit has always been there. It began with childhood schemes to earn more pocket money, and this developed into a fruitful business relationship between the pair in adult life. This was a spirit nurtured in the pair by their mother, owner of a Markethill-based homeware store and a nearby restaurant. 

The brothers’ passion for business fused with a passion for fitness, and they soon embarked on a business venture together, opening a busy independent gym. “The cogs really started spinning with the gym, and eventually it began to run itself. We reached the point where we wanted to start something else, something new. We wanted a product that we could sell to people, and we wanted a business that could grow sustainably,” says Andy. However, when the brothers cast their memories back, Jonathan ultimately claims the glory for coining the idea behind their sweet potato crisp brand.  

Jonathan reflects back to when the brothers were spending time in Newcastle, meeting and working with other fitness brands including Icon Fitness. “We realised that the guy behind Icon Fitness was just like us – he couldn’t have been any older than 25. He was shipping goods online, and this originally got us onto the idea. Everyone loves crisps, and sweet potato was really on the rise at that particular time. We watched tutorial videos, made some at home in our oven,” remembers Jonathan.

Both brothers agree that this initial stage could, at times, be quite frustrating and time consuming. Attempts at getting the recipe right took hundreds of attempts, with the brothers initially pleased to get one good crisp out of an entire box. “You’d make about six batches, and after you’d picked out the good ones you’d be lucky to have one packet,” laughhs Jonathan. The brothers attempted to bake the crisp as a healthier alternative, before acknowledging that there were too many obstacles to doing this properly. They then decided to go for fried crisps, before Innovation Vouchers from Invest NI gave the entrepreneurs time and space to properly develop the product. 

Growing a Snack Business with Wolf & Woodsman

After nearly two years of perfection and development, the business was ready to launch with its shelf-ready product. “We never set out to be a health product – we just wanted to make a tasty crisp,” admit the brothers. With their product, they appear to have done just that. However, the brains behind Wolf & Woodsman aren’t satisfied with staying where they are. Indeed, they hope that their crisps form the first member of a large family of snack products. Notably, the brothers are even open to the idea of launching a drink product. 

The logic behind creating a tasty sweet potato product is obvious. But what of the name and the brand’s logo? According to the brothers, opting for a wolf was a carefully considered choice. “We knew we wanted an animal to represent our brand, and we wanted something that could fit in with the gym as well. We wanted something that wasn’t too masculine or too feminine. Plus, wolves work in packs, and they’re pretty sleek,” says Andy. “We’ve paired this up with the fact that we leave our skins on, giving that really unique and rugged feel. Eventually, we hope to build our whole brand around this vibe” he adds.

For the team at Wolf & Woodsman, marketing their product has primarily involved a joint effort on social media. “We are rubbish at it, but we try our best,” they laugh. “We are just a group of normal guys following an idea, charting the highs and lows of our journey. Bigger companies tend to be faceless, and that really isn’t what we’re going for. We’re using our small size to our advantage, but like many brands we hope to make it big”.

The team also had some success at the Balmoral Show, securing sponsorship from the Ulster Bank. “They asked some businesses to come onboard, and we were straight in there. They even used us for part of their advertising campaign – we were getting texts from people to tell us they saw us on a billboard over Larne! It was a bit strange, but also really cool that it happened – we are small, after all,” remembers Jonathan. For the brothers, this experience really helped to open the door to more opportunities.

“Feedback was great, and we sold about 700 bags,” adds Andy. “We even had a touching example of a wee lad who saw our stall. He said he had been looking for us for ages after trying our crisps, so that meant a lot. On the other hand we had a little old woman who was raging that we weren’t Tayto. You can’t please everyone!” laughs Andy.

Wolf & Woodsman crisps can be found at selected establishments across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Fans will also be excited to know that the brand is currently seeking to expand its offering to shop-shelves across the country, and we can’t wait to stock up. The team’s tasty journey can be followed via their official website, as well as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

Amazing Food & Drink is a sub-brand of ProfileTree, a Belfast-based content marketing agency specialising in web design, web development and digital strategy. To tell the story of your food business or to transform your business online, get in touch with the team today.

Growing a snack business with wolf & woodsman

Setting the Stage for Delicious Success: Important Factors When Starting a Snack Business

The path to snack-preneurship is paved with delicious possibilities, but just like any entrepreneurial journey, a solid foundation is key. Let’s explore the crucial factors that will set your snack business on the path to success:

1. Demystifying Your Dream Consumers:

  • Who are they? Define your ideal customers. Age, demographics, lifestyle, and snacking habits all play a role. Do they prioritize health, convenience, or indulgent treats?
  • What do they crave? Understand their pain points and desires. Are they looking for healthier alternatives, on-the-go solutions, or unique flavor experiences?
  • Where do they hang out? Identify their online and offline spaces. Are they active on social media, frequent specific stores, or attend health-focused events?

2. Carving Your Niche in the Snack Kingdom:

  • Health Halo or Indulgent Escape? Choose a niche that aligns with your passion and offers differentiation. Organic, gluten-free, high-protein, or gourmet delights? The choice is yours!
  • Trend Tracking and Beyond: While trends offer valuable insights, don’t blindly follow them. Create a niche that stands out with a unique selling proposition (USP) that resonates with your target audience.
  • Research the Competition: Know your landscape! Analyze existing brands in your niche. What are their strengths and weaknesses? Can you offer something truly distinct?

3. Flavor Fantasia: Tickling Taste Buds with Innovation:

  • Sensory Symphony: Go beyond basic and bold. Experiment with flavor combinations, textures, and ingredients to create an unforgettable taste experience.
  • Global Inspiration: Look beyond your backyard. Explore international flavors and adapt them to your target audience’s preferences.
  • Ingredient Integrity: Use high-quality, ethically sourced ingredients to ensure not just deliciousness but also consumer trust and brand alignment.

4. Sourcing Savvy: Securing the Supplies Your Snacks Crave:

  • Building Reliable Relationships: Develop partnerships with responsible and transparent suppliers. Prioritize quality, consistency, and competitive pricing.
  • Local Heroes or Global Champions? Consider the pros and cons of local vs. international sourcing. Balancing cost, ethical sourcing, and environmental impact is crucial.
  • Plan for the Unexpected: Build a buffer of essential ingredients to mitigate supply chain disruptions and ensure consistent production.

5. Branding Bites: Creating a Crave-Worthy Identity:

  • Visually Vibrant: Craft a visually appealing brand identity that reflects your niche and appeals to your target audience. Think logo, packaging, and website design.
  • Storytelling Snacks: Infuse your brand with a compelling narrative. What’s your mission? What values do you represent? Connect with your customers on an emotional level.
  • Consistent Communication: Maintain a consistent brand voice across all platforms, from packaging to social media. Make your snack a recognizable and beloved friend.

6. The Licensing Labyrinth: Navigating the Regulatory Maze:

  • Understand the Food Safety Landscape: Research and comply with all relevant food safety regulations and licensing requirements in your region.
  • Labeling Lingo: Ensure your packaging accurately informs consumers about ingredients, nutrition facts, and potential allergens.
  • Seek Expert Guidance: Consulting with food safety professionals and legal advisors can save you time, money, and headaches in the long run.

7. From Kitchen Incubator to Snack Shelf Superstar:

  • Commercial Kitchen Calibration: Choose a commercial kitchen that meets your production needs and adheres to safety regulations.
  • Equipment Essentials: Invest in the right equipment, considering both your budget and production volume.
  • Scalability Savvy: Plan for future growth. Is your kitchen easily adaptable to increased production demands?

By meticulously considering these factors, you’ll build a solid foundation for your snack business, setting yourself up for delicious success and leaving a lasting mark on the ever-evolving snack landscape. Remember, passion, planning, and a sprinkle of ingenuity are the secret ingredients for conquering the snack world!

The Snack Symphony: Orchestrating Critical Operations for Sweet Success

Beyond the irresistible flavors and captivating branding lies the crucial orchestra of a snack business’s operations. Mastering these critical elements ensures your delicious creations not only reach hungry hands but thrive in the competitive snacking landscape. So, let’s tune into the key operational notes:

1. Distribution Dynamics: Delivering Delights to Doorsteps:

  • Mapping the Delivery Roadmap: Identify your ideal distribution channels – grocery stores, online retailers, convenience stores, or subscription boxes. Research their reach, target audience, and partnership terms.
  • Reliable Routes and Reliable Partners: Secure partnerships with reputable distributors. Negotiate efficient logistics, fair pricing, and timely delivery to reach customers at their peak snacking moments.
  • Digital Delivery Dance: For online sales, build a user-friendly platform, efficient shipping processes, and strategic partnerships with delivery providers.

2. Quality Control Chorus: Harmonizing Safety and Delight:

  • Ingredient Integrity: Implement rigorous quality control measures throughout your supply chain, from sourcing to production and packaging. This ensures consistent flavor, safety, and compliance with regulations.
  • Production Process Precision: Establish standardized procedures for manufacturing, packaging, and storage. Conduct regular inspections and implement quality checks at every stage to minimize deviations and guarantee excellence.
  • Post-Launch Palate Patrol: Monitor customer feedback, conduct in-store audits, and analyze product returns. Proactively address quality concerns and continuously refine your processes for consistent deliciousness.

3. Demand and Dance: Matching Supply with Snacking Rhythms:

  • Forecasting the Snacking Future: Analyze market trends, sales data, and seasonal fluctuations to accurately forecast demand. Adjust production schedules and inventory levels accordingly to avoid shortages or overproduction.
  • Production Precision: Optimize production processes for efficiency and scalability. Invest in the right equipment and train your team to ensure smooth operations under varying production demands.
  • Inventory Intermezzo: Maintain the perfect balance of inventory. Excess stock adds cost, while insufficient supply disappoints customers. Implement inventory management systems and maintain buffer stocks for unexpected surges.

4. Packaging Picasso: Painting a Picture of Bite-Sized Brilliance:

  • Cost-Conscious Canvas: Choose cost-effective packaging materials that meet safety regulations, protect your product, and reflect your brand identity. Consider sustainability and recyclability as additional value propositions.
  • Marketing Maestro: Utilize packaging as a marketing tool. Incorporate captivating visuals, clear information, and enticing brand storytelling to capture attention and influence purchase decisions.
  • Functionality Finesse: Prioritize functionality. Design packaging that’s easy to open, reseal, and store, enhancing the consumer experience and ensuring product freshness.

5. Shelf Life Symphony: Preserving Perfection From Pantry to Palate:

  • Ingredient Alchemy: Choose ingredients with naturally long shelf lives or explore preservation techniques like drying, freezing, or natural additives.
  • Packaging Preservation: Opt for materials that optimize shelf life and protect your product from external factors like heat, light, and moisture.
  • Storage Savvy: Implement proper storage procedures throughout the supply chain, ensuring optimal temperature and humidity control to maintain product quality and extend shelf life.

6. Building Bridges: Partnering for Snacking Success:

  • Retail Rhapsody: Cultivate relationships with retailers and distributors that align with your brand and target audience. Negotiate favorable terms, merchandising opportunities, and promotional campaigns.
  • Distributor Dialogues: Partner with reliable distributors who understand your product, have access to relevant markets, and offer efficient distribution channels.
  • Social Synergy: Leverage social media and influencer marketing to build brand awareness, engage with potential partners, and drive sales through targeted campaigns and collaborations.

By mastering these critical operations, you’ll transform your snack business into a well-oiled machine, delivering fresh, delectable treats to eager consumers and orchestrating a symphony of sweet success. Remember, with meticulous planning, efficient execution, and a passion for flavor, your snacking creation will be the star of every pantry and picnic basket.

Savor the Spotlight: Growth-Hacking Marketing Strategies for Your Snack Empire

Growing a snack business involves more than just crafting delectable treats. To truly conquer the snacking kingdom, you need a robust marketing strategy that piques taste buds, builds buzz, and drives loyal customers. So, let’s unleash your inner marketing maestro and explore some delectable growth-hacking tactics:

Digital Feast: Seducing Snackers Online:

  • SEO: Search Engine Symphony: Optimize your website and content for relevant keywords to ensure hungry audiences find your delicious offerings when they search online.
  • Social Media Sizzle: Cultivate engaging profiles on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook. Share captivating pictures, product demos, recipes, and behind-the-scenes glimpses to build a community and drive engagement.
  • Influencer Alchemy: Partner with relevant influencers who resonate with your target audience. Leverage their reach and credibility to create sponsored content, product reviews, or recipe collaborations.

Sampling and Demos: A Taste of Triumph:

  • Free Samples: Offer free samples at grocery stores, events, or online through subscription boxes. Give potential customers a firsthand experience of your snack’s magic.
  • Product Demos: Host in-store demonstrations or online showcases where you highlight the deliciousness, functionality, or health benefits of your product.

PR Magic: Earning Delicious Headlines:

  • Pitching Perfection: Craft compelling press releases and outreach to food bloggers, journalists, and relevant media outlets. Secure earned media coverage to amplify your brand’s story and reach new audiences.
  • Awards and Accolades: Participate in relevant competitions and industry awards. Recognition and accolades add prestige and attract attention to your tasty creations.

Paid Ads: Boosting Buzz with Budget:

  • Targeted Campaigns: Utilize platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ads to launch targeted campaigns that reach your ideal snack-loving customers based on demographics, interests, and online behavior.
  • Creative Captivation: Craft compelling ad copy and visuals that showcase your product’s unique selling points and entice click-throughs.

Grassroots Goodness: Cultivating Local Delights:

  • Farmer’s Market Fiesta: Participate in local food markets and community events. Engage directly with potential customers, offer samples, and build local brand recognition.
  • Collaboration Concoctions: Partner with local businesses like cafes, restaurants, or gyms to offer your snacks alongside their offerings. Cross-promotion expands your reach and introduces your product to new audiences.

Loyalty Lullaby: Keeping Customers Coming Back for More:

  • Rewarding Repeat Bites: Implement a loyalty program that incentivizes repeat purchases with points, discounts, or exclusive offerings. Make your customers feel valued and encourage them to return for more.
  • Subscription Symphony: Consider offering subscription boxes with curated snack assortments or customized options. This generates recurring revenue, builds customer loyalty, and provides a convenient way for fans to get their snack fix.

Remember, the most effective marketing strategy is a multi-pronged approach that caters to your specific target audience and budget. Experiment, track results, refine your tactics, and never stop exploring new ways to tantalize taste buds and conquer the snacking kingdom.

FAQ: Scaling Your Snack Symphony – Sweet Answers to Pressing Questions

Q: How fast should I scale my snack business?

A: There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Consider your funding, market demands, and production capacity. Start small, test and refine your processes, and scale steadily while ensuring quality and customer satisfaction.

Q: How do I maintain brand identity during expansion?

A: Stay true to your core values and messaging. Ensure consistent branding across all platforms, from packaging to social media. Engage with customers and gather feedback to keep your brand relevant and loved.

Q: What are the biggest challenges when scaling a snack business?

A: Managing cash flow, finding reliable suppliers, maintaining consistent quality, and building a strong team are some common hurdles. Plan carefully, adapt readily, and seek support from fellow entrepreneurs or industry experts.

Q: Can I secure funding for my snack business?

A: Absolutely! Explore bootstrapping, loans, investor funding, or crowdfunding options. Develop a compelling business plan, highlight your unique selling proposition, and demonstrate your market potential.

Q: What resources can help me scale my snack business?

A: Attend industry events, join online communities, and seek guidance from mentors or business advisors. Utilize financial and operational tools, and subscribe to relevant publications for valuable insights and learning opportunities.

Conclusion: Sweeten Your Future, One Scalable Bite at a Time

Scaling your snack business is an exciting journey, paved with delectable challenges and endless rewards. By embracing strategic planning, operational efficiency, and unwavering passion, you can orchestrate a symphony of growth that captivates taste buds and conquers the market.

Remember, scaling is not just about expansion; it’s about preserving your brand’s magic while exceeding customer expectations. So, set your sights on the snacking horizon, utilize the insights within this guide, and conduct your business with a sprinkle of innovation and a generous scoop of delicious dedication. The world awaits your delectable creations – scale wisely, savor the journey, and watch your snack empire blossom into a sweet and sustained success story!

Now, go forth, brave snackpreneur, and let your hunger for growth fuel your next delicious chapter! May your innovative offerings and strategic melodies leave an unforgettable taste in the world, one satisfying bite at a time.

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