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How innovation has underpinned Hectares’ success in the healthy snack market

Hectares sweet potato crisps packet

How innovation has underpinned Hectares’ success in the healthy snack market

Hectares make crisps with a twist. A sweet-potato twist. Founder, Kevin Harvie, reveals an essential ingredient for future success: innovation.

Spotting a gap in the market

Inspired by his work as an accountant in the food and drink sector, Kevin Harvie saw a gap in the market for a healthy snack and thus, Hectares was born. And since then, the company have diversified into children’s snacks – creating the ‘healthy Wotsit’ called Super Moons.

We met to discuss how our innovation support helped his company build a brand, protect their assets and keep their delicious products fresh and ahead of the competition. 

Hectares journey into new markets

"Hectares started as a sweet potato crisp brand," said Kevin. "But more recently, it’s developed into a snack company, having recently launched our new Lentil Puff brand called ‘Super Moons’ .

"It’s the same company, but different ends of the market. Hectares is a premium sweet potato crisp brand which has been in the market for three years, largely focusing on premium convenience retailers and independent retailers.

"We also export Hectares to a few countries in Europe and further afield. 

"We launched Super Moons in May 2017. We developed this product on the back of demand for a savoury snack that met certain health criteria. Many of these new health standards are difficult to comply with, so developing a product that tasted fantastic while also meeting the criteria was a challenge.

"We eventually settled on a lentil-based snack which we like to call a ‘Cosmic Lentil Puff’, to tie in with our retro space theme.

"Super Moons has approximately 40% less fat, and 40% less salt than traditional savoury snacks. Our main target market is school-age kids and families."

Where are you selling those right now?

 "Super Moons are currently available on catered Scotrail trains as well as many family-friendly destinations and attractions across Scotland and the UK."

What inspired you to start Hectares?

Kevin said, "Before starting the business, I was an accountant working in professional practice. I’d always wanted to start and run my own business so I was constantly on the lookout for an idea.

"Within accountancy I was doing a lot of work within the food and drink industry and decided to focus on that sector.

"I saw the growth in demand of sweet potatoes and decided there was an opportunity for a range of sweet potato crisps."

Would you describe innovation as a big part of your business?

"Yes and no. If you innovate too much in the food industry you can find yourself in a niche section of the market which makes it difficult to drive volume. The sweet potato product is still fairly niche, but I believe the demand for the product will continue to grow.

"Super Moons is arguably more mainstream because the taste and texture is very like what kids and families are already used to. However, by removing allergens and reducing fat and salt we have offered something unique to the market."

What’s been the most memorable part of the journey, so far?

"We managed to secure some great customers in the early stages of the product launching. This gave us huge belief, but also provided real credibility to the business when approaching other potential customers.

"I would say the biggest challenge for us, almost from the start, has been in the supply of the sweet potato product. Working with a fresh raw ingredient brings challenges and the sweet potato has a few added complexities which makes it even tougher."

How has Scottish Enterprise helped you?

"We’ve received the By Design grant, which we used for Super Moons. It was great because we knew we had to diversify our product range, and this meant investing in a new brand and pack designs.

"We’ve also recently tapped into a scheme which has helped us to work with a mentor that has experience in the food and drink sector. This has helped us develop a clear strategy for launching Super Moons."

What’s next for the company?

"With regards to Hectares, we’re looking to continue growing the brand gradually by working with a selection of premium retailers across the UK and overseas.

"We see Super Moons as a larger market opportunity and we’re looking to launch new pack formats later in the year to capitalise on this."

Is the interest in healthy eating something you’re trying to capitalise on?

"Absolutely. In recent years consumers are much more aware of the nutritional content of their food. However, it’s critical that the product tastes fantastic because consumers aren’t willing to compromise on taste."

Next step

You may be eligible for an innovation grant to help your business grow.