Venture into Social Pantry HQ and you’ll be met with a hardworking bunch of chefs, cafe managers, baristas, event planners and a busy behind-the-scenes team. We like to think that we’ve got seasonal, fresh and delicious food down to a T and between us, try and work with suppliers that hold the same values for producing excellent quality goods. When we’re in need of an energy boost, one of our favourite and most convenient go-to snacks is Primal Pantry; available to enjoy from the cafe, Primal Pantry make snack bars using 100% natural ingredients without any additives or artificial preservatives. We caught up with the team to discover more about new flavours, inspiration and future plans…
For anyone that doesn’t know, what is The Primal Pantry and what do you produce?
We make snack bars. But not your ordinary run of the mill snack bars. Our focus is on using only 100% REAL FOOD ingredients. This means that we only use ingredients in their raw form, specifically ingredients that people know of and can easily pronounce. We never use artificial preservatives, flavourings or colours; and our snacks are always free of gluten, dairy, soy, vegetable oils and refined sugars. We have two product ranges at the moment. Snack bars and high-protein bars. The high-protein bars have been made using exactly the same principles as our original snack bars; clean ingredients, great tasting recipes and accessibility to everyone. Our choice of protein for these bars was hemp. An ingredient which is considered a complete protein, can be extracted with minimal process and with incredible environmental credentials. A protein hit doesn’t have to come hand in hand with poor taste and overly processed ingredients.
What was the initial inspiration behind The Primal Pantry?
The #RealFoodRevolution inspired our founder, Suzie, to create snacks that were accessible to everyone. Having trained as a nutritionist and seeing first hand how hard REAL FOOD snacks were to find in major retailers, Suzie decided to make her own. Needless to say they were a hit. In her first week she sold 25,000 bars. For too long our diets have been plagued by the big food manufacturers using cheap and heavily processed ingredients our bodies simply aren’t designed to digest. The Primal Pantry’s mission is to change this.
What are the core values of The Primal Pantry?
BE REAL – Act honestly in every action we take, every ingredient we choose and every interaction we have.
BE BOLD – Continue to innovate, be different, go against the grain and show resilience. Don’t be afraid to just do it!
BE SIMPLE – We don’t overcomplicate, complexity kills creativity and innovation.
BE GOOD – In the products we make, the people we employ, the processes we forge along the way. Always leaving the world a little better than how we found it.
How do you decide on which new flavour combinations to produce?
Suzie is a superb judge of flavour. Having worked with some top health brands such as Innocent and Little Dish, she knows what works with what. Often a new flavour is sampled among everyone in the office as well as friends and family. If the consensus is overwhelmingly positive, it gets the green light. If not, it’s back to the drawing board!
What is the biggest challenge you face on a day-to-day basis and how do you overcome this?
Cutting through the noise. Our feeds on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are full of irrelevant stuff that clogs up space on our on social media. Our television and radio stations are full of generic adverts that don’t resonate with us. Our industry is full to the brim with competitors that turn over billions of pounds every year and have giant budgets. We simply don’t have the resources to get an agency to do everything for us. Some of us have come from big businesses where spending millions with agencies was the norm. Adjusting to life at The Primal Pantry has been a real challenge for those of us fortunate enough to work with big budgets in the past. We overcome the noise through our desire to be relevant and our desire to be accessible. We listen to the little people (because we ARE the little people), happily sending samples & our support to micro influencers and miniature events up and down the country. We’re targeted in our choice of audiences across social media, press and radio. We do our research on what works best, and we’re agile enough to adapt when we need to. Large complex competitors can’t move like we can.
What has been The Primal Pantry’s greatest achievement to date?
Our coverage for a business our size is huge. We’re in major retailers such a Tesco, Sainsburys and COOP. You can buy us online from Ocado, Amazon or eBay. You’ll find us in stations, airports and hospitals too. Our export market stands at around 30 countries; our biggest being Germany, Scandinavia, New Zealand and the USA. Five incredible snack bars and four of the cleanest protein bars you can buy, and here we are, conquering the ever-changing world that is retail. Not bad for a team of 13 people. It just goes to show what you can do with a passionate team.
From one business to another, what advice would you give you other entrepreneurs wanting to start their own company?
Your people are your biggest asset. There is not a single element to starting a business which comes easily. We all have different skills, ideas and backgrounds. Treating your people as human capital is the best way to get the most out of them. Be open to new ways of doing things, be open to change and be a strong team both professionally and personally. Whether your challenges are based on finance, marketing, logistics or sales, it’s a tightly knit team that will help drive the business forward. Make sure your people are as passionate as your founder, and that they believe in the mission the business is trying to achieve.
What does the future have in store for The Primal Pantry?
Even more availability (new stores, new spaces and reaching new people). Innovative product development which fulfils the need for 100% REAL FOOD. Probably more office dogs… five and counting.
What does a typical day at The Primal Pantry look like?
Once everyone’s in, the kettle goes on. A round of tea helps us all settle into the day. We find we’re more productive with emails, spreadsheets, presentations and activating our ideas in the morning. We try and get these things done first! (Of course, the choice is up to each of us individually). Then comes lunch… usually instigated by someone offering to grab some food from the shops nearby. If you’ve not bought your own in from home, it’s likely you’ll end up with an Avocado, some salad bits and a yoghurt/granola mix for afters. Once the whole tribe has gorged it’s on with the afternoon (interspersed with glasses of water, cups of tea and mugs of coffee). We tend to book our meetings in for the afternoons, catching up with each other and people outside of the business to help build our workloads for the following weeks and months ahead. If the afternoons are full of heavy meetings, a quick walk with the office dogs usually helps clear our heads. Throughout the day we’re always chatting to our customers on social, an important part of building a meaningful relationship with fans of our snacks. We chat to them through our chat function on The Primal Pantry’s website too, helping them with all sorts of queries. It’s nice to get feedback on how we’re doing from customers, as well enormous praise from those who love us.
If we came to The Primal Pantry HQ for lunch, what would you serve us?
We like to pull out the stops, so we probably wouldn’t serve you food HERE at our office. Mainly because our tiny kitchen is an absolute fiasco at lunch time, but also our lovely but hungry office dogs probably won’t leave you alone… However, we’ve got a good idea of the best pubs in the area. We’d take you to one of the smaller, family owned pubs, who source their ingredients locally and put as much love into their food as they do their customers. We’re big fans of supporting the smaller businesses who always strive to do the right thing. Whether you’re after something vegan friendly, free of gluten or even organic, it’s amazing what some of these little places offer! If it’s on the menu, you can have it!