On the up · 27 November 2017

Strong Roots: Delivering healthy frozen food alternatives via Amazon Fresh and Ocado

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Dublin-based Samuel Dennigan launched Strong Roots in 2015
Business Advice chatted to Strong Roots CEO, Samuel Dennigan, aboutthe new partnerships his healthy frozen food brand has agreed with Amazon Fresh and Ocado.

No longer seen as a low-quality alternative to chilled or fresh food, frozen food is in the midst of a UK revival. The food category is now worth more than 6bn a year to UK economy, and is one of the fastest-growing in UK supermarket aisles.

A wave of celebrities, including the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Serena Williams, continue to invest in new premium? frozen food brands.

One new brand tapping into the trend is Strong Roots. Launched in Ireland in 2015, the business currently boasts 1, 200 per cent year-on-year growth, with turnover projected to increase by 7m in the next 12 months.

With a range including oven baked sweet potato fries, kale and quinoa burgers, ripened avocado halves and beetroot and bean burgers, Strong Roots has its sights set on the UK after securing mass distribution to the majority of Irish supermarkets.

(1) Who are you and what’s your business?

My name is Samuel Dennigan, founder and CEO of Strong Roots, an innovative, healthy frozen food brand, revolutionising frozen food aisles. We pride ourselves on working with the best producers in the world to source the finest vegetables and all our products are fresh, tasty and bursting with goodness.

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Strong Roots launched in UK supermarkets Whole Foods and Waitrose
(2) How long have you been around for?

In April 2015, Strong Roots was accepted into SuperValu’s Food Academy, which is the largest food brand accelerator programme in Ireland. By October that year, we had launched our first product into Irish supermarkets.

We launched in the UK in 2016 into Whole Foods, quickly followed by Waitrose in March 2017 and Amazon Fresh and Ocado most recently, with a delicious and nutritious range of vegetables and veggie meals.

(3) Where did the idea for your business come from?

I have grown up working in the fresh food sector have become increasingly frustrated with the limited shelf life fresh food has to offer, and the amount of waste there is as a result.

I decided to look to frozen alternatives. I could see a gap in the market and a demand for vegetables in a cost effective convenient format, and thought frozen vegetables and vegetable-based meals could be the answer.

Not many people realise that there are usually higher nutritional values in frozen vegetables compared to fresh vegetables. Our products can stay fresh for up to two years as a result of freezing, and the nutritional qualities remain the same.

The product is a great convenient option for families wanting to eat healthier and most importantly it means we are helping to reduce food waste.

Selling to AmazonFresh: On-demand delivery with an open door to new brands

(4) What was key in terms of getting started?

SuperValu’s Food Academy, which Strong Roots were a part of, works with and nurtures small businesses through their journey, from startup to getting their products on shelves.

Our inclusion in the program provided us with supermarket shelf space opportunities, ultimately resulting in our products being available in every corner of the country within a very short space of time.

(5) Any major setbacks along the way?

In 2009, I tried to do a version of the Strong Roots brand we have now but for children, in the chilled food space.The product was too expensive and it was simply not going to work.

I made a bit of a mistake and retailers ran a mile from any suggestion of doing what we were talking about. It meant we had to give it some time, go back to the drawing board and change our strategy.

(6) How do you make social media work for your business? Which platforms do you use?

Social media is extremely important for all aspects of our business, and as a result were active on all major platforms.

Social platforms offer us the opportunity to engage directly with our customers in real time. As a brand, you need to add value to consumers? lives by what you push out across your social channels. And as a food brand, we lean heavily on recipe content to inspire followers and assist their hectic lives.


 
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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

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