Food Academy is a joint initiative between SuperValu, Bord Bia and the Local Enterprise Office Network which gives small producers a big chance. Since its inception in 2014, has supported over 600 small producers across Ireland – one of which is Leaves PastaMagic. Founders Nico and Sabine are husband and wife living in Dublin with their son Aidan. Nico is an Italian chef and Sabine is a Dutch health researcher. They came to Ireland in 2013 and have felt at home ever since.
Find out more about Food Academy at www.supervalu.ie
We caught up with Nico & Sabine to find out how their business has grown since the last time we spoke.
Can you tell us about your product?
We’ve created the world’s only pasta that lets you glow. We can guarantee that bloating after eating pasta is a thing of the past now! Leaves PastaMagic has a delicious nutty taste and will give you the energy you need to do what you really want in your day. Our pasta is suitable for anyone who has a busy life and is trying to balance the different roles they play. It will help you to take great care of yourself by just eating a comforting plate of pasta.
What inspired you to create your product?
We discovered that there were no great tasting, healthy pastas when Nico developed a wheat-intolerance. Being Italian, it was important to still eat delicious pasta, that made him feel great while eating but also feel energised during the rest of the day. We tried every single pasta available on the market, but none of them can make you feel great while tasting delicious! We decided that something had to be done, and since our backgrounds are chef and health researcher, it was possible for us to develop a delicious pasta that makes you feel amazing. We’ve achieved this thanks to the unique ingredient, buckwheat and chickpeas, and the traditional Italian way of making pasta, thanks to the help of three generations of Italian pasta makers. All of this means that our pasta is wheat-free, high in protein and easy to digest.
What sets your product apart from similar products?
We believe food has to be great: it has to taste delicious, it has to be healthy for you and it has to make you feel wonderful! Everybody knows that it is important to eat healthy, but this gets hard when the food is not appetising! Reversely, if you find great tasting pasta that is not healthy, you are really doing yourself a disservice for the rest of the day. There is no pasta on the market that is great in every way apart from Leaves PastaMagic, our pasta helps you to enjoy both your meal and your day!
How has your product evolved since you launched it?
We were very fortunate to be selected to be part of the FoodAcademy, the programme that is run by SuperValu, the LEOs and BordBia. We have been given a great chance to be on the shelves of Supervalu and grow at the speed we were ready for. We started in only 14 stores in the Dublin area with a different pacakaging last year, and now we are selling our product nationwide with SuperValu and across Europe via our website.
Where can you buy your product and how much does it cost?
Our product is available in SuperValu nationwide, in health food stores and speciality stores such as Avoca. It is also available online via www.leavespurefood.com. It costs €1.99 per pack of 100 grammes.
What does the future hold for your business?
There are many exciting things happening at Leaves! We cannot tell you all the details, but we always listen carefully to our loyal customers, and soon our pasta will be available in selected SuperValu stores in a larger pack size as well.
What advice would you give to small food business start ups?
As an Irish food business, there is more support available than you might initially think. Make sure to check out the FoodAcademy programme, where you will get the resources from government agencies and SuperValu to help you to start selling in retail. Another thing we would recommend is to always listen to your customers, and that every interaction with a customer is a chance to make your product better. Our customers are absolutely amazing and we get loads of positive feedback, which is invaluable as the food industry can be a tough place to create a business!