The friends had help from one of Tom’s clients who was a businessman with experience in start-ups. The first Tom and Luke products were gluten-free protein bars under the “Trinity” brand, each of which was lovingly handmade. Today, Tom and Luke Limited operates a production kitchen in Wainuiomata with around 50 employees producing more than 1 million Snackaballs each week. “We saw a gap in the market for that format … Snackaballs are smaller than the standard snack bar so you never end of up with something that is only half eaten and you have something that is genuinely healthy as well as very tasty,” Luke says.
In fact, Luke says, the healthy snack food market is booming, and healthconscious consumers particularly appreciate the Tom and Luke commitment to ensuring all ingredients are refined-sugar free, have no genetic modification and a low allergen content. “We’re very focused on the quality of our ingredients which come from sustainable sources as much as possible. Dates, a big ingredient in Snackaballs, have to be imported of course.”
The biggest challenge, he says, has been making the transition out of being a small business where the proprietors do virtually everything themselves. “It’s so good to have the right people around us now … people who are knowledgeable in specific areas including finance, sales and production.”
That knowledge extends to marketing and supply chain management, with Tom and Luke now established suppliers to Foodstuffs, Countdown and independent health food outlets in New Zealand, and to Woolworths across the Tasman. GS1 identifiers and barcodes make all this much easier. And they are an integral part of the company’s approach to Amazon.com which, says Luke, has been very positive on the prospects for Snackaballs in its Amazon Pantry range.