Seven marathons in seven days, across the Sahara Desert, followed by 50 marathons in 30 days through Europe as part of the Run For Love to fight modern slavery and end human trafficking. This is what the founders of the cutting edge snack company TRIBE did, along the way discovering the need to create energy and protein bars built to meet the mental and physical pressures of modern living. And then…one of the biggest challenges of all—finding the perfect distribution and sales partner…
‘The marathons were in aid of fighting human trafficking’ says TRIBE co-founder, Guy Hacking. ’We carried all our nutrition on our backs so we had to make sure it was doing its job. We quickly realised that traditional sport nutrition bars were highly synthesised and full of refined sugars.
‘This not only made us feel awful but also was at odds with what we considered a healthy balanced diet. We set about developing a range of products that would sustain us on the road for up to 16 hours a day. These products were made with natural wholefood ingredients including fruits nuts and seeds – nature’s powerhouses. Our solid month of running 35 miles a day fuelled by our products proved the ultimate test…and the idea for TRIBE was born.’
Having built up a community of 120,000 customers and selling 2million snack bars in 2018 through a-direct-to-consumer online model, TRIBE wanted to further extend its reach. They looked to do this by breaking into foodservice and turned to the Delicious Ideas Food Group (DIFG), a specialist supplier in that sector.
‘We were selling well online and into a few retailers, and wondered how we could accelerate our growth further,’ says Guy. ‘We reached out to DIFG, and they loved the vegan, gluten-free and performance aspects of our products. But they were also impressed by the engaged physical community we had built up, and the impact we were having with our Foundation.
‘Since we started working with DIFG in March, it’s been a really successful partnership—far and away the fastest growing of our suppliers in the foodservice sector. And I think that’s because they really understand what we’re doing.
‘DIFG believes in the mission we’re on, and we can feel that they’re behind us. It’s like having an extended team working on your behalf, which is what you need from a distributor and commercial partner.’
Says DIFG’s Foodservice channel controller, Chris White, ‘When we got our first sample box from TRIBE, I opened it up and, being Vegan myself, was pleased to be able to try all the different bars. I was immediately impressed and thought that they were delicious. But beyond the taste, there were other things that are increasingly relevant to consumers—no additives, no fillers, no extra sugars—the snacks are simply made up of superfoods and natural ingredients. It’s total transparency that’s clearly communicated on every pack. There’s nothing to hide.
He adds, ‘Then there was the story behind the brand—the community background, and the incredible charity endeavour that originally provided the impetus for the development of these amazing bars. The whole thing ties neatly together. It’s very cleverly done, right down to the website which fully reflects the authenticity of TRIBE, the products, and their mission.’
In addition, TRIBE was the first snack brand to successfully launch a range (Energy Bars) with plastic free, entirely home compostable packaging. Behind this? An Instagram post of a TRIBE wrapper washed up on a beach in Sierra Leone, leading to the company’s decision to make all ranges plastic free by the end of 2019.
‘The compostable component adds yet another positive element to the TRIBE story, and makes the brand even more attractive,’ says Chris. ‘Client partners, increasingly concerned about social responsibility, like what they see in TRIBE and wholeheartedly buy into the main brand and product attributes. The fact that TRIBE already has a proven track record also works as a positive influence in commercial discussions.’
Now with DIFG as its preferred route to market in food service, TRIBE’s sales have increased significantly. But, just as importantly, because of DIFG’s insights, established contract catering relationships and strong support, TRIBE is benefitting from greater exposure, by appearing in many new sites across the country including hotels, universities, football grounds, banks, and other large corporations and institutions.
Says Jonathan Potter, DIFG’s CEO, ‘‘The TRIBE proposition goes beyond snacks into a world of possibilities. It’s the considered approach of independent producers like TRIBE that is proving so disruptive within the snacking industry. It’s forcing big established brands to sit up and take notice.
‘We recognised straightaway that TRIBE’s values and ambitions align with our own, and mainly, for this reason, we anticipate a long and fruitful partnership.’
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