Devon-based vegan chocolate maker Moo Free is hoping to taste sweet success as it brings out new products for an adult market after securing a £900,000 loan.
The Holsworthy-headquartered business produces confectionery which is free from dairy, gluten and soya and is now expanding its product range as the “free-from dairy” food market grows throughout the UK.
The company has rebranded in a bid to extend its appeal to a growing adult demographic for vegan products. Up to now Moo Free has traditionally targeted the children’s market and focused its sales on the Easter and Christmas periods.
But the firm’s rebrand and product expansion are aimed at appealing to adults and to drive and sustain regular sales throughout the year. Santander UK has supported Moo Free with its growth strategy by providing the company with a £900,000 funding package.
Ginette Higgs, finance director at Moo Free, said: “Moo Free is a small, but fast-growing company and Santander UK has been instrumental in helping us achieve – and even exceed – our ambitious growth plans. The team at Santander UK has provided us with a combination of services that support our unique requirements and address our capital commitments, as well as achieving our business goals.”
Moo Free was established in 2010 by Andrea and Mike Jessop, both of whom have food intolerances, gluten and lactose respectively, after identifying a gap in the chocolate market for dairy-free alternatives. They remortgaged their house to get the business up and running.
Since then, they have gone on to supply major supermarkets and health food stores – including Tesco, Waitrose, Aldi, Lidl, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Asda, M&S, Ocado and Spar – with their products as well as selling online.
The company, which relocated to Devon from Reading in 2015, employs a staff of 55 and company accounts show that for 2020 it made a profit of £1.23m, up from £939,000 in 2019.
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It uses organic cocoa from farms in the Dominican Republic, and uses as much recycled plastic as possible for its packaging, and avoids single-used plastic. Moo Free also works with a charity which helps people with disabilities into work, and employs some people who are knowingly autistic.
Martin Pitcher, relationship director at Santander UK, said: “Santander UK is pleased to support Moo Free with its growth strategy, especially over the course of the pandemic with all of the challenges it has presented to UK businesses. We look forward to working with Moo Free as it continues to grow in the exciting and fast-moving ‘free-from dairy’ sector.”