Snackaballs for health-conscious people

Tom and Luke of Wainuiomata had a very simple idea: Let’s give busy people a genuinely healthy option in the snack food market. Nine years later, their names are a brand representing exactly that, and their nutritious “Snackaballs” are eaten throughout New Zealand, in much of Australia and elsewhere through sales on

Tom Dorman and Luke Cooper – personal trainer and chef, respectively – started their business after discovering a mutual conviction that poor diet is a major impediment to good health (physical and mental) whatever else might be going on in your life. Luke wanted to know exactly what things his second son, who had recently been diagnosed with severe allergies, should eat to stay well and to thrive. And Tom, as a trainer, had a strong professional interest in good nutrition, plus an acceptance that his scientific approach to exercise might be undermined by unhealthy diet.

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 which, says Luke, has been very positive on the prospects for Snackaballs in its Amazon Pantry range.