Sarah’s Rawbites offers healthy alternatives to sugar-laden sweet treats
Owner Sarah Holm targets UK market after she settles into the SuperValu Food Academy
Sarah’s Rawbites founder Sarah Holm took the plunge and set up the business at the end of 2015
The health issues associated with over-indulging in refined sugars and saturated fats are well documented, yet giving up sweet treats completely would be a bridge too far for most people.
Sarah Holm is a chef and pastry chef who understands the sweet tooth and caters to it, but with a healthy twist. Sarah’s Rawbites are made with whole natural ingredients including nuts, berries and seeds and are like “clean” versions of the sweet nibbles people crave.
“A lot of brands have popped up in recent years with a focus on healthy treats but I believe my products have the edge because of my 16 years’ experience as a chef and my knowledge around how to match flavours and textures,” Sarah Holm says.
Cork-born Holm started her culinary career as an apprentice in the kitchens of the Maryborough Hotel in Douglas at the age of 16 and has worked in Ireland, Zimbabwe (where she was brought up) and Australia since.
Prior to setting up Sarah’s Rawbites, she was a chef at the Sports Surgery Clinic in Santry and then at Avoca at Malahide Castle. Holm began experimenting with healthy treats in 2013 while still working at her day job and was subsequently asked by Avoca to develop a range of similar products for them. Having seen how well they sold, Holm took the plunge and set up her own business at the end of 2015. Avoca is now one of her customers.
“I am providing people with the opportunity to satisfy their sweet tooth with products they are familiar with such as caramel slices and carrot cake but without the dairy, gluten or refined sugar,” she says. “My target customers are health-conscious individuals, parents looking to offer their families kinder versions of familiar recipes and those who are vegan or dairy, wheat or lactose intolerant.”
At present the products are available in a mix of shops and cafes including Chopped and The Butler’s Pantry. The products can also be bought online for Ireland and the United Kingdom via Soul Bia. From May, three of Holm’s products will be available in 10 SuperValu stores in the greater Dublin area. “Once I am settled in the SuperValu Food Academy I will be turning my attention to the UK market,” she says.
Holm’s 15-product range includes brownies, raw energy bars and mint, peanut and raspberry caramel slices. She also produces two varieties of granola and five varieties of protein balls based around nuts, seeds and cacao. “I produce by hand in small batches to ensure the best possible product and they are packed full of minerals, superfoods, antioxidants and nutrients to nourish the body. They are designed to curb sugar cravings and to give a natural boost of energy throughout the day,” she says.
Unlike some raw sweet treats, Sarah’s Rawbites do not need to be chilled or referigerated and the products have a shelf life of about 12 weeks. However, Holm is giving them a sell-by date of six weeks in order to maintain quality standards.
As the business has been generating revenue from the beginning, Holm has been able to keep start-up costs to an absolute minimum. She already had most of her product development done when she started so it was largely a question of finding a premises and getting into production/selling mode as quickly as possible. She had a small grant from Fingal LEO to help with branding and a friend did her a favour and designed her website and packaging for a nominal €500.
She has recently spent about €3,000 on new packaging and nutritional/shelf life testing for the three SuperValu products. Like many small food producers, Holm currently does all the making, wrapping, selling and distribution herself but plans to take on help from this summer.