'Paleo' diet spurs Auckland business boom

By Ben Chapman-Smith

Amy Gibson's new store Wilder and Hunt offers food containing "no grain, no sugar, no artificial anything".
Amy Gibson's new store Wilder and Hunt offers food containing "no grain, no sugar, no artificial anything".

A new breed of food and health businesses is popping up around Auckland, all to meet the growing demands of people subscribing to the latest 'Paleo' diet.

The Paleolithic, or 'caveman', diet emphasises a return to the basic, raw eating habits of the original hunter gatherers.

It consists mainly of fish, grass-fed meats, eggs, vegetables, fruit, and nuts, and excludes foods like dairy products, grains and refined sugar.

Paleo has been taking off worldwide, as well as in New Zealand, and the movement has been the catalyst for a boom in new local businesses.

One of those businesses is Snack Pack, launched four months ago by couple Nick Larsen and Monique Satherley.

From a commercial kitchen on the North Shore, the couple produce Paleo-friendly snacks using locally-sourced ingredients.

Customers order products online and Snack Pack delivers them to their home or workplace every Monday.

Larsen said the pair initially started the venture as a hobby but things had quickly taken off.

"We thought it was just a niche market but it's just exploded. We're growing at probably 40 per cent a week," Larsen said.

Their 'Paleo Pack' includes biltong, roasted pistachios, and a selection of balls filled with ingredients like walnuts, sunflower seeds, raw cacoa and almonds.

The business now had "a few hundred" customers nationwide, Larsen said.

Amy Gibson, who opened the doors to her Auckland store Wilder and Hunt last week, said there was a growing market in New Zealand for "real, pre-industrial food".

"People are way more interested now in where their food comes from and what goes into it," she said.

Wilder and Hunt is a takeaway store selling salads, lunches, ready-to-go dinners, smoothies, and other specialist items.

Gibson said her food contained "no grain, no sugar, no artificial anything" and since opening the doors last Monday, business had been "out of control".

"We don't have enough staff to make enough food. I've been up till 1 o'clock every morning. I had no idea it was going to be like this - I'm just blown away."

The majority of her customers were members of CrossFit, a gym movement which strongly advocates the Paleo diet.

Gibson said her goal was to source all ingredients locally and she was planning to tour the country to find high-quality suppliers.

Nutritionist Julianne Taylor runs a business called Paleo & Zone Nutrition, offering seminars and private sessions on the principles of the Paleo diet.

Taylor said she was currently part-time with the business but increasing demand offered the potential to go full-time.

The number of Kiwis taking up the Paleo diet was growing rapidly, she said.

"I get people contacting me on a regular basis inquiring about a seminar somewhere around the country."

Ryan Kamins, one of the founders of cereal producer Clean Paleo, said his food business had seen strong growth since it launched four months ago.

With business partners Sam Dunbar and Mitchell McClenaghan, Kamins prepares a range of Paleo cereals in a Tamaki bakery once a month.

The trio recently started selling their products through Farro Fresh and several Auckland health stores. They were hoping to go full-time before long.

"Sales have tripled since we have been in the gourmet stores," Kamins said.

"Based on those sales, hopefully we'll be able to push into Nosh and New World soon."

Some of the other businesses offering Paleo-friendly food in Auckland include Fit Me In, Jess' Underground Kitchen, Feed Me and Safari Biltong.

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