Every week on The Primer we ask a local business or product to introduce themselves in eight simple takes. This week we talk to co-founder of The Pure Food Co, Sam Bridgewater, whose business makes nutritionally dense and visually appealing food for people who have a hard time eating.
ONE: How did The Pure Food Co start and what was the inspiration behind it?
Pure Foods was born out of a personal experience: my stepfather had jaw cancer which made it impossible for him to eat normal food. At a time when he needed a good meal with decent nutrition, he was struggling (as was my mum). Our vision is to help provide good nutrition for all those people who are struggling to receive their nutrition, for whatever reason.
TWO: Did you have any interest/experience in business or entrepreneurship prior to starting Pure Food?
I was previously in the financial services industry and Pure Foods co-founder Maia Royal was a consultant, so both of us were interested in commerce and business. After observing a clear need, we focused on creating a solution. As a 10-year-old, I also had a pine cone sales business employing younger cousins and brothers.
THREE: Who is Pure Food designed with in mind?
Mark, my stepfather, who needed better food and better nutrition. And my Mumma and Bumpa (grandparents), who sometimes need the opportunity to get higher levels of specific nutrients.
Our aged and health care team now provide foods to many care-providers and caterers in New Zealand who truly value nutrition. They want to give their residents and patients the best meal they possibly can. We have some awesome partners who are keen to embrace and deliver nutritionally-charged, real-food innovation.
FOUR: Does Pure Food cater for different dietary requirements (ie: meat-free, dairy-free, gluten-free)?
Yes, we have a range of products catering to different dietary requirements as well as likes and dislikes in terms of tastes. All meals are gluten-free and we fortify them with plant-based protein.
FIVE: How do you prepare Pure Food products and what kind of shelf-life do they have?
Some people heat and serve straight out of the tub, although we’ve created foods that can be re-shaped, which is a very cool way of improving the visual of minces, mashes and purees. Making this possible involved considerable investment in research and development, and we’re now seeing our customers plating beautiful meals in the aged care environment without having to use additives.
SIX: Why is the world of soft food such a huge R&D challenge? What kind of challenges did Pure Food encounter in trying to develop the products you have now?
To create foods that are higher in nutrition, but with flavours, mouth-feels and aromas that remain true to what they say they are is a real challenge, even more so to try and do it naturally. Layered on top of that were considerations around how to improve the food’s visual appeal.
SEVEN: Do you have any other plans to scale/grow further and if so, what are they?
We’ve built manufacturing capacity to allow growth into key export markets, starting with Australia shortly. From there, we have some markets in Asia we’ll be looking to take some good, nutritious, Kiwi food into.
EIGHT: Lastly, tell us about a New Zealand start-up or business that you really admire right now.
I love seeing New Zealand companies take what we do best and add value to our shores, increasing our country’s ‘relevance’ globally. Meat and dairy companies like Te Mana Lamb, Synlait and Spring Sheep come to mind as organisations that are doing some inspiring stuff.
The Spinoff’s business section is enabled by our friends at Kiwibank. Kiwibank backs small to medium businesses, social enterprises and Kiwis who innovate to make good things happen.
The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed, free daily curated digest of all the most important stories from around New Zealand delivered directly to your inbox each morning.