By SAM BUTLER
A truly innovative range of natural health bars has been developed by Hempful, an organic foods company based in Derry.
The bars all contain hemp, with two of the variants being further infused with CBD Oil.
The bars have already won business with Aldi for its 142 stores in the Republic of Ireland and are currently being distributed in Northern Ireland by WJ Shaw’s, Belfast’s leading confectionery distribution business.
The new bars are made from natural ingredients in Derry and are high in fibre, have no added sugar, no added sweeteners, are suitable for vegans and have fewer than 10 ingredients.
Hempful was formed by visionary accountant Eamon Canning on the back of his passion for healthy foods, sustainable living and a longstanding curiosity in the benefits of plant foods, including natural hemp and CBD Oils.
“This interest in hemp led me to undertake extensive research into the therapeutic benefits of the plant, which have been accepted for many centuries worldwide.
“I visited numerous locations across Europe, engaging with multiple hemp growers, processors and producers,” Mr Canning says.
“The perfect partnership was realised with a pesticides and herbicides free farm in the northern mountains of Croatia.
“This led me to set up a business in Derry, initially to produce CBD oils using hemp grown in Croatia and processed into oil by the most respected and successful Croatian laboratory based in Austria.
“Blending of the oils and bottling was carried out at our own small production unit here in Derry.
“The oils were developed and are positioned and marketed as a food supplement.
“We do not make any health claims about the oils which are perfectly legal and are to be found on the shelves in health food shops across Ireland,” he adds.
The diversification into health bars followed the successful launch of the CBD oils in 2017.
“The launch of the bars was not only a proud innovation but also a logical extension of the business due to the growth and increasing healthy snacking consumer trend.
“We developed the recipe in Derry and launched our first nutritionally dense, protein and fibre rich bars this year,” he continues.
“To put it simply, our bars are ridiculously healthy, potentially redefining the health bars category!”
The company has developed a four-strong range of 60g bars – Original, CBD Infusion, Protein and Sports Plus.
Hempful, which currently employs five people, has trade marked the brand and is now implementing an international marketing campaign.
In addition, the company has drawn on the route to market the merchandising and marketing expertise of consultant Michael Keogh of Ideal Food Solutions in Enniskillen.
Having been included in the Grow with Aldi scheme in May 2020 represented “an immensely significant breakthrough” for the business, according to Mr Canning.
“The opportunity to supply Aldi’s vast network of stores across the Republic was a marvellous boost, so soon after the launch of the bars,” he continues.
“It was a tremendous endorsement and an exciting opportunity to increase awareness of hemp and our bars among consumers,” he adds.
The new distribution agreement with the 1877 family founded WJ Shaw and Sons will strengthen Hempful’s access to the many key leading independent retailers across Northern Ireland.