Couple taste success with healthy range

By Gill South

Natalie and Andrew Vivian of The Tasty Pots Company. The company is marketing to schools and supermarkets. Photo / Natalie Slade
Natalie and Andrew Vivian of The Tasty Pots Company. The company is marketing to schools and supermarkets. Photo / Natalie Slade

Not everybody sets up their business purely to make money.

Andrew and Natalie Vivian, the entrepreneurs behind the fresh food range The Tasty Pot Company, would like to see New Zealand school children eating their healthy food and have been marketing to high schools as well as supermarket chains with their soups, salads and fresh meals.

The couple are approaching selected private girls' schools in Auckland, Hamilton and Christchurch giving tastings in canteens and tuckshops.

"It's a hard sell at times turning people around," Andrew said.

But the response has been good.

"We want to create a business to be proud of - the school thing for us is very important," Natalie said.

The Tasty Pot Company was hatched from a desire to get a greater variety of vegetables into the New Zealand diet, Natalie said, whose last job in Britain was heading the wines marketing team at Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy.

The aim was to provide convenient healthy meals when you were not feeling inspired or just did not have the time to do it yourself, she said.

Launching in June 2010, the couple created a market which was not really there in New Zealand, they said. But it was a potentially valuable one as they knew from living in Britain.

Andrew brings to Tasty Pot a lot of practices he learned when working in marketing at fast moving consumer goods company Innocent, which makes fresh fruit smoothies, kids' drinks and ready meals. The quirky dialogue on the packaging is inspired by Innocent.

The Tasty Pot range has three categories - soups, salads and meals.

It includes Chorizo and Chestnut Soup, Velvety Beetroot Soup, Thai green curry, Roast Veg Hotpot and Superfood salad. The meals cost $7.49, the soups $6.99 and the salads about $5.

When they started out, the Vivians arranged tastings with well known chefs whom they cold-called, people like Molton's Michael Van De Elsen, Ray McVinnie and Lauraine Jacobs.

Contractor Camille Roge helps the company with concept development. "The most refreshing thing we experienced, coming from the United Kingdom, was how willing people were to help us," Natalie said.

They also had early business mentoring from former owner of The Good Taste Company Jonathan Bisley, who developed the soup pouch technology. When they launched, the Vivians gave Nosh the exclusive launch for the first two weeks, then spread to Farro Fresh Food, to other specialty food stores and selected supermarkets.

Food retailers are now coming to them, including the popular Wellington store for foodies Moore Wilson.

With the fresh meals lasting seven to 10 days, exporting is difficult.

"Besides, you've got to get your own playground right first," Andrew said.

"In the last 18 months we have been pretty busy, with three new ranges and a new baby," Natalie said.

The company has 11 staff and its turnover is about $1 million, with year on year growth at close to 100 per cent.

The couple maintain a majority shareholding and have a silent investor shareholder.

For fun, Andrew has set up a gourmet group of small food manufacturers with the owners of Piako Gourmet Yoghurt, Kohu Road icecream and Dollop Puddings, among others.

Andrew said: "What's nice is to go along and have a gripe about the pressures."

POTS OF GOLD

* Convenient healthy meals.
* Based in Auckland.
* Launched in June 2010.
* 11 staff, turnover of about $1m.

- NZ Herald

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