New innovators Dr Coy’s Health Foods

‘I felt there was a gap in the market for truly healthy snacks for both adults and children’

Alison Stroh: “All of the products in the Dr Coy’s range fall into the ‘free from’ category of foodstuffs which is one of the fastest growing areas of food and nutrition.”

Alison Stroh: “All of the products in the Dr Coy’s range fall into the ‘free from’ category of foodstuffs which is one of the fastest growing areas of food and nutrition.”

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Healthy chocolate bars for kids and a cola drink that won’t rot their teeth are just two of the products start-up food company, Dr Coy’s Health Foods, will launch here at the beginning of 2015.

The company was set up in 2013 by business graduate, Alison Stroh, who worked with high potential start-ups in New York with Enterprise Ireland before moving to Germany to work in a marketing role with Hewlett Packard.

While in Germany she met Dr Johannes Coy, a researcher at the German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg who discovered a gene of particular importance in the metabolism of cancer cells, the TKTL1 gene.

As a result of his research Coy developed a diet related to his interest in avoiding cancers. This sparked Stroh’s idea for her business.

“I was inspired by the great work Dr Coy was doing and felt there was a gap in the market for truly healthy snacks for both adults and children that are slow release and don’t spike blood sugar levels,” she says.

“I made contact with Dr Coy and we subsequently began working together on the development of a range of healthy chocolate for children. We linked up with DIT Aungier Street to conduct Irish and UK market research into the demand for this type of product.”

Stroh says the company’s focus is the development of innovative, low glycaemic foods and it is already importing and selling a number of other products developed by Coy for adults. However, Stroh intends making the children’s chocolate bars and cola products in Ireland and is now on the hunt for suitable manufacturers.

“The combinations of ingredients Dr Coy has developed are patented and the thinking behind the products is that they do not raise blood sugar, they are high in fibre and Vitamin E, they are lactose and gluten free and tooth friendly,” says Stroh, who has just completed the Enterprise Ireland-backed New Frontiers programme at the Institute of Art, Design & Technology, Dún Laoghaire.

“Our target market is the health focused customer in Ireland and the UK. Our research highlighted that ‘health benefits’ and in particular ‘sugar free,’ are in the top three choice factors when 66 per cent of this group choose a snack,” Stroh says.

“So-called ‘functional chocolate’ in particular is witnessing significant growth rates. An increase of 40 per cent in consumption is expected in Ireland between 2010-2015 according to Euromonitor statistics. Irish people are big consumers of chocolate. I saw figures recently that put us second in Europe behind the Swiss.”

Stroh’s brother, Aaron O’Donohue, has joined her in the company and Johannes Coy is also a shareholder. Stroh estimates development costs to date at around €50,000.

“All of the products in the Dr Coy’s range fall into the ‘free from’ category of foodstuffs which is one of the fastest growing areas of food and nutrition. The ‘free from’ section in supermarkets used to be niche. Now it is moving into the mainstream,” she says.

“As part of our go-to-market strategy we have identified retail partners with whom we share a health-based focus,” Stroh adds. “The next phase is to link up with a pharmacy chain where a holistic approach is being taken towards health. We hope to go live with this in October.

“We are also in discussions with suitable coffee shop chains and office catering suppliers seeking innovative healthy snacks. Once we have established ourselves in Ireland we will expand into the UK in 2015 and are already putting down roots there through online providers.”

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