Business Leaders’ Forum

Alara Wholefoods aims to create 17 new jobs

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Yacon is a natural source of fructooligosaccharides
Yacon is a natural source of fructooligosaccharides

Related tags European food safety authority Agriculture Member state of the european union

Alara Wholefoods aims to create 17 jobs over the course of this year off the back of strong demand for its organic and gluten-free muesli and other food lines.

“In 2014 we grew turnover at 22%,”​ founder Alex Smith told at Food Manufacture’s Business Leaders’ Forum in London on January 20.

“This year we put in 20% growth budgets and we are exceeding them. Our margins are improving as well. We created 15 new jobs last year and we are planning on creating 17 this year.”

Planning to invest £300,000

The company was planning to invest £300,000 in its facilities after spending £100,000 on its existing Camley Street headquarters in London in 2014, said Smith. It had reached an annual turnover of £7M, he added.

A big focus for the business in 2015 would be yacon, a vegetable native to Peru which provided a source of fructooligosaccharides – natural sweeteners that were not absorbed by the body – said Smith.

Until last year the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) had included yacon on its Novel Foods Register, which precluded its use by EU Member States pending further analysis.

However, Alara compiled a dossier proving that it was safe to use, eventually prompting EFSA to take it off the list in March 2014.

Test crop

Smith then secured the services of a horticultural company in the Netherlands to cultivate 2,000 yacon plants. In May last year a small test crop was planted at Alara supplier Pertwood Organic Farm in Wiltshire. That crop was harvested in December.

“From February we will be packing granola cereals with yacon in them,” ​said Smith.

Alara could derive sweetener from yacon in three forms: flakes, powder and syrup, he added. “We have now got three Pertwood yacon products: granola with the syrup, porridge with the powder and muesli with the flakes.

“We have also just started to sell yacon as an ingredient into manufacturing processes.”

Food Manufacture’s Business Leaders’ Forum took place at the offices of law firm DWF in Fenchurch Street, London, and was sponsored by DWF, Lloyds Bank and food testing company ALControl Laboratories.

The free-to-attend event is open to senior executives in food and drink manufacturing firms. To register for next year’s event, email sryvpvgr.ohexr@jeoz.pbz​.

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