We decided to have a chat with Ann Perkins, Founder and Managing Director of Perkier, about how she turned an idea into a reality by bringing her gluten-free snack to the shelves…
What inspired you to create Perkier?
About ten years ago I needed to remove gluten and dairy from my diet for health reasons. After doing so, I went from pretty low energy, lots of bloating and stomach aches, to suddenly feeling so much better, with bags of energy!
But when I went gluten and dairy free, I often felt the foods I bought were lacking in taste and costed the earth. Snacks for on-the-go was the biggest gap for me, so I put my mind to creating delicious, healthy snacks that everyone can enjoy!
As a healthy eater and someone who is conscious of the impact we all have on the planet, health and sustainability are also really important to me and when I started to think about creating a company I wanted these values to be at the heart of it.
Why are Perkier bars good for people who experience gluten intolerance?
All Perkier’s products are gluten free which makes them the perfect snack bars for people who have a gluten intolerance. But, aside from that, they have up to 60% less sugar, 100% more fibre and 34% more protein than competitors and are vegan, palm-oil free and carbon neutral.
There aren’t many gluten-free snack bars that tick so many boxes whilst also tasting genuinely delicious and that’s why they really are the go-to, healthy, ethical snack bar for all!
How has Perkier changed your own personal journey of having a gluten intolerance?
Well for starters I have an unlimited supply of snacks to munch! But seriously it has been such a pleasure to meet with so many consumers who also need to avoid gluten and /or dairy and understand the challenges they face, create products they can enjoy and positively contribute to their health and wellbeing.
Through my work with Perkier I have grown even more passionate about publicising gluten intolerance and gut health in general – it’s not talked about often, so I really value being able to use my position in the industry to help grow the conversation.
What snack bars do you make?
Perkier bars are available in many delicious flavours. Our best-sellers are Salted Caramel & Dark Chocolate, Crunchy Peanut, Nutty Toffee Dark Chocolate and Madagascan Vanilla.
Where can our readers buy Perkier products from?
What symptoms do you experience when you eat gluten?
I’m strictly gluten free now – but before my diagnosis I had stabbing pains in my stomach, bloating, and at times overwhelming tiredness. It also affected my mood – every time I experience a flare up, I become really miserable and down – decidedly un-perky!!
What would your advice be to other people who are gluten intolerant?
Bowel issues is something people don’t like to talk about so when people are suffering, they often just keep quiet and get on with things. But please, don’t give up. There may be something you can do to make yourself feel better; and if you can hunt down the solution, I promise you, you won’t regret it! Cutting out gluten is the obvious one, but I am also a huge advocate of a living a healthy lifestyle – make sure you get plenty of sleep, eat a nutritious balanced diet, and stay active if you can.
What has been your steepest learning curve when building Perkier?
My steepest learning curve when building Perkier was finding a supplier to produce our recipes to high standards – it was tough. Some suppliers just wanted to cut corners that and we weren’t up for that! Now we have such a fantastic supplier, producing great quality Perkier bars which we sell in Sainsbury’s, ASDA and Morrisons! They are an absolute dream to work with, providing important employment to a deprived area of North Wales, and they are B-Corp – which is a shorthand for looking after people, profit and the planet – so they fit perfectly with our sustainability values. Today, Perkier has sold over 15 million bars since its launch, and we sell over 60,000 Perkier bars a week – that’s one every ten seconds!
How have you got to where you are today?
Perseverance, Passion and Perkiness! When I first started making snack bars, I received fabulous feedback from friends and family so I thought, maybe I could sell give to other people too, see what they think, so I booked a stand at The Allergy and Free From Show. The three-day show took place at Olympia in London and we brought about 3,000 Perkier bars to sample and buy, including Perkier’s now very popular Cranberry & Goji bar. The show was a great way to test our brand and products and after that, we started selling in top London stores such as Whole Foods and Planet Organic, which was a great springboard to get into the top UK supermarkets. Running a small company has its up’s and down’s so it is important to have lots of passion for what you do to help you through.
What would your top tip be to someone who wants to start their food business?
Find something you are passionate about and a strong market niche where you can beat the competition! Running a business is a big commitment so loving what you do makes any personal life compromises so much easier!