As of 2017, 5% of the UK population is vegetarian; that’s 542,000 people who have committed to a plant-based diet, and there are millions more who strive towards a healthier, less toxic nutritional lifestyle.
The humble chickpea is a key ingredient in that quest. Awareness of gluten-intolerance, coeliac disease is rising and the market has responded with an increased vegetarian/vegan array in supermarkets and restaurants, enabling consumers to make conscientious meal choices. But what do you do when you’re just feeling a bit peckish?
GARBANZO founder Mamun Rashid was brought up in a family with the business and enjoyment of food at its core. Following Mamun’s graduation, he joined the Barclays European Graduate scheme eventually transferring to BZW, (Barclays Investment Arm) where he specialised in Derivatives Trading. With his understanding of corporate governance Mamun founded his first food business, OI Food Group, with huge success. Their meticulous attention to flavour, with an uncompromising approach to sourcing quality ingredients also caught the attention of Duchy Originals. who charged them with developing their Organic, Indian ready-meal range in collaboration with the HRH Prince of Wales’ personal chef. ‘It was rather surreal’, says Mamun, ‘our early meetings were held at Buckingham Palace, with tasting feedback from the future King of England’.
The business was started in 1999 and grew to around a £6m turnover, employing 84 staff full time, supplying both branded and private label to Sainsburys, Waitrose, Tesco, Morrisons and Asda. Their customers also included Euro Star, Debenhams, Giraffe Restaurant Group and Slug & Lettuce. The business received £2m in Venture Capital Funding and £1m in financing from Barclays and family investment off £1.2m. They exited in 2006.
“We wanted to explore the concept of a crisp-like snack that is not just ‘healthy’, but one which gives actual health benefits”
Chickpeas have always been a staple ingredient in Indian cuisine and were first introduced to a besotted British public as Bombay Mix; Mamun recognized the opportunity to update and market this Indo-snack staple. And so, in 2013, Mamun founded GARBANZO. Its ethos is simple: one basic ingredient, simply cooked and flavoured naturally. He managed to carve himself a niche in the natural food market; a ‘snack’ food filled with health benefits that is as tasty as a bag of crisps. Within two years, GARBANZO was in the top ten brands sold at Holland and Barrett, (The UK’s leading health and wellbeing retailer), and are now stocked in all 1,320 retailers throughout the UK, the Netherlands and Scandinavia, where they have sold over a million packets.
‘The essence of our company is in the purity of the product’, continues Mamun. ‘We are committed to using only chickpeas, but with a variety of flavours. The current output enjoys seven delicious lines, with tastes ranging from Sweet Thai Chili to Smoky Bacon’.
However, in January 2018 Mamun is excited to add two more, but with a special twist. Garbanzo have already pioneered a system to dry bake their chickpeas and flatten them with a rolling press, to replicate the consistency and crunchiness of a potato crisp. However, they have compounded this with something truly exciting: after a year of research and development with a pharmaceutical company, they have developed a means to add vital vitamins. “We wanted to explore the concept of a crisp-like snack that is not just ‘healthy’, but one which gives actual health benefits”.
The NHS has declared that the single biggest vitamin deficiency in UK is Vitamin D, (hardly any great surprise with our somewhat inclement climate), so GARBANZO will add this to their new health positive range, with one bag providing 15% of the DRA. “With the current upsurge in a healthy eating narrative, we are very excited at this being the very first time a packaged snack, that tastes and feels as satisfying as a bag of crisps, will be actively healthy”.
GARBANZO is also package-targeting children with a range called ZOOKS which will contain the parent-attracting benefits of Vitamins B12, C and D as well as being a delicious treat to the child.