By Christiane Lippert*
Healthy eating is a complex challenge. As such, achieving it successfully is almost always a team effort rather than the responsibility of any single individual, or individual company. It’s impossible for consumers to improve their diets if they’re surrounded by – and bombarded with adverts for – products packed full of unhealthy ingredients. And the success of companies with a healthy eating mission often depends on partnerships with others that share their values. This is a story about two companies – Wonderchup and Lycored – who found they had a similar mission, and have worked together to offer consumers a healthy new product.
Elise Daly knows better than anyone the importance of healthy diet. She is currently on her fifth pace-maker having suffered from flu and, as a result, has a weak immune system. She also has a second heart condition called SVT, and both conditions are kept in check through a healthy lifestyle. Her son was born with two holes in his heart. And on her husband Karl’s side of the family, there have been three bereavements from breast cancer.
So Elise’s family has particularly good reason to eat healthily. But despite all the evidence that excessively sugary products are harmful – toxic even – she has realized that they are very hard to avoid. It has struck her that too few companies are offering healthy products, and that fast foods covered in sugary ketchup are everywhere.
The realization that nobody else was doing it was the inspiration to change things herself. It all started at a family barbecue, where she decided to make a batch of healthy, ketchup. She used Isle of Wight tomatoes, which are naturally sweet, roasted peppers fennel, garlic, onion, rosemary, apple cider vinegar and rapeseed oil. Crucially, she left out both sugar and salt. The kids loved it. Her son said: “Everybody should have this” and her daughter added “It would be good for everyone, go on Mummy, think of how many people you could help”. That advice was the catalyst for something bigger – Elise and Karl resolved to solve the “ketchup problem.”
That was how ‘Wonderchup’, the concept of a healthy sugar-free ketchup, was born. As a designer, Elise saw at once how it could be designed and marketed, but she lacked hands on experience of the food industry.
One of the things she wanted to do was to increase the amount of Lycopene in her recipe. She had learned that this could be achieved by using tomato concentrate – rather than puree – which would also intensify umami and kokumi taste experiences, both of which, she learned, were proven to increase consumer liking.
But more than that, Elise and Karl wanted to work with ingredient providers with a similar philosophy to theirs. We were delighted when they contacted Lycored because we knew we could give them peace of mind in terms of our commitment to healthy eating and sustainability, as well as our traceable sources, which are based on our backward integrated approach.
Using ingredients from our natural taste ingredient portfolio, we helped them create a product that really stands out. Wonderchup has more pronounced herb and spice notes than most ketchups and our tomato-based taste products help it pack an umami punch without any added salt, sugar or MSG.
Wonderchup launched in January 2018. It is currently supplied both online and direct in retail stores, cafes, gastro-pubs in parts of the south of England with discussions ongoing about expanding into the north. Elise and Karl are also looking to foodservice channels and institutions such as schools, hospitals and, sports venues (where they hope to offer healthier ketchup for hot dogs, burgers and chips). Wonderchup launched online on Amazon this summer and has attracted fans in Australia, the U.S., Peru and Japan. It has also attracted high-profile consumer-facing media coverage, with the UK’s Daily Mail awarding it four points out of five.
Ultimately, Elise hopes that Wonderchup will win a place in mainstream supermarkets, and not just in the free-from aisle. Lycored is proud to have been part of their journey, and I believe the Wonderchup story will not only inspire other start-ups but also demonstrate to the bigger players that there’s huge demand for healthier products.