July 14, 2016

The Bare Bite Journey – Case Study

Sam Tinsley has spent the better part of 25 years in the Food Service and CAFE Industry. Her interest in healthy food began when her now teenage son Lachlan was born with multiple food intolerances.

After many hours of research she recognised an underdeveloped sector in the market and decided to act on it. Sam is now the Managing Director of Bare Bite, a successful boutique food manufacturing business catering to the rainbow of dietary needs for today’s society.

Café Culture magazine caught up with Sam to learn more about the Bare Bite journey.

Hi Sam, tell us a little more about your background and how has it helped you recognise emerging trends?

With almost 25 years in the industry I have had the pleasure of working with many great premium brands that were ahead of their time. I have been fortunate to be involved in the pioneering of many new trends. This has helped me recognise the difference between a fad and something that is here to stay.

I was the National Sales Manager of Alchemy, a successful Australian owned syrup company where I was involved in raising market awareness of Chai, which is now a mainstream staple of the café world.

Prior to my time at Alchemy I helped launch Hartz Mineral Water. Hartz was the first flavoured mineral water on the market to really take off. This was at a time when Perrier was all the rage. Hartz was the first product to make a serious dent in Perrier’s strangle hold on the market.

Even before Hartz I was pioneering new trends by bringing Red Eye and Jolt Cola to Queensland in the 1990s, long before energy drinks were a thing.

At what point did you recognise food intolerance was an underdeveloped sector? 

My son Lachlan was born with multiple food intolerances. Back then you could not find food that was gluten, dairy and preservative free that also tasted great. I spent a lot of time researching and looking for gluten and dairy free food.

For the next 15 years, I was continuing to help mainstream food and beverage businesses supply the café and food industry in my professional life, while going to those same establishments with my son looking for health conscious and allergy free food with no success.

I could see the lack of options and jumped in to fill this gap. I had finally merged my passion for clean living with my professional corporate food service background.

How did you source a location, kitchen and staff?

Just after the idea for Bare Bite started to take off, Tom Lane had an idea to build a food mecca in the Northern Rivers and The Farm at Byron Bay was born.

Tom had just acquired Byron Bay Cheese and Byron Bay Garlic and was looking for a food service professional to be his National Sales Manager.

As another champion of clean living, Tom offered me an opportunity too good to pass up. I was able to grow Bare Bite at the same time as setting up a distribution network for his cheese and garlic. Tom offered me a commercial kitchen onsite. Bare Bite came to be and we had a home at The Farm.

During the 12 months at The Farm the demand for our products grew at an extraordinary rate. We were then forced to find a new home with a bigger kitchen that was closer to the major distribution hub of Brisbane. This has helped us cater for customers all around Australia.

In regard to staff, we were very fortunate in the early development stage to have an abundance of raw local Byron Bay chefs, local people who live and breathe the clean living lifestyle and who were able to help perfect our recipes and processes. We have taken these recipes and processes with us to Brisbane.

Can you explain the processes involved in your business start up? Any set backs or pitfalls?

In the development and research phase of Bare Bite I spent hours researching and sourcing ingredients that would ensure that we could call our products gluten, wheat and dairy free, raw, paleo, organic and vegan.

There were some minor setbacks associated with entering this emerging industry. We have had to consult industry experts to ensure that we are following the right dietary requirements and to help perfect the nutritional panels and recipes.  Along with ensuring that the treats tasted as “normal “ as possible so people would recognise and enjoy what we were producing.

The greatest challenge, however, was finding a way to upscale my homemade recipes in order to mass-produce commercial quantities. We can now happily say that we have perfected this process in time for growing demand for our desserts.

What accreditations were needed? Organic, GF, sustainable etc.

Our ingredients have been sourced from trusted raw and organic ingredient suppliers around Brisbane and Byron Bay. We ask all our suppliers to provide a Certificate of Currency to guarantee that their products do comply with our strict dietary requirements. Through this process we have found a network of reputable suppliers, which has made life a lot easier.

How do you manage distribution?

I believe that my 25 years experience working in the food industry has given me vital industry knowledge and has placed me in a unique position to convince distributors of the value of healthy food, which has allowed me to set up a distribution network for Bare Bite reasonably quickly.

I have now been able to set up a great network of fantastic distributors who recognise the importance of providing customers with health conscious foods.

What’s the most important part of your business?

After years of struggling to get allergen free food for my son, the most important part of my business is definitely being able to produce healthy food that tastes fabulous and is easily accessible.

The idea that my son and others with allergies and lifestyle choices can walk into an outlet and feel normal when they order a dessert certainly inspires me to continue growing my business.

What advice/tips do you have for the cafe industry?

If I have any advice for the café industry it would be that café goers are becoming more and more health conscious.

In the same way that ‘gluten-free’ wasn’t the trend everybody thought it would be 10 years ago, people are becoming more suspicious of processed, unhealthy foods. Cafes need to be able to provide healthy, but delicious, quality food or they will be left behind.

This is true in even the most mainstream, conservative cafes. At the very least 8 to 11% of the population have a medically diagnosed food allergy and another 20% have lifestyle health choice dietary requiements.

Cafes that don’t provide at least one allergen free option run the risk of missing out on sales from those that don’t speak up about their dietary requirements.


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