BABY and toddler snack maker Organix is growing despite the pandemic as consumers turn to brands they can trust, the company’s boss says.

Mark Golder, who became managing director of the Bournemouth-based company last year, said the 29-year-old business was starting to see some of its original customers becoming grandparents.

Founded in Christchurch by Lizzie Vann, it was bought by the international Hero Group in 2008. It employs around 55 people in Bournemouth’s Commercial Road, with the products themselves mainly made in Europe.

Organix recently launched a campaign called Good For Planet, Good for Me, fronted by JB Gill of the boyband JLS, to get children eating more fruit and vegetables.

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Mr Golder said Organix was growing at a time when snack sales for youngsters had declined.

“Overall, the sales of baby and toddler snacks have gone down during this last year and we think that’s to do with the fact that families have all been much more at home. There’s perhaps been a bit more time for people to do their own food preparation at home. But also people have not been out and about, people have not been out on picnics or on walks or on the beach.

“They’ve just not needed to carry those products out with them.

“In spite of that, Organix has managed to deliver growth last year which we’re really pleased about and the other thing we’ve noticed is a big change in where or how people are buying our products.

“Before the pandemic arrived, the bulk of our business was through the major multiples but we really have a strongly growing business in what we call ‘out of home’.”

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That included sales on the company’s own website as well as online platforms such as Ocado.

“Throughout my career, there have been occasions – maybe not quite as extreme as we’ve experienced in the past year or so – but times when people are feeling under a bit more stress or pressure financially or for other reasons. Those tend to be the moments where they’ll pivot towards brands and products that they really know they can trust and rely on,” he said.

“I like to think that will be one of the reasons that people have moved towards Organix. When there’s lots of other uncertainty going on in the world. I take great pride in that actually.”

Mr Golder studied food science at university and was a food technologist at Marks & Spencer before working for PepsiCo, the Institute of Grocery Distributors and the protein products company Quest Nutrition. He said he found a “really passionate group of people” at Organix.

The brand has a history of campaigning. He credits Organix founder Lizzie Vann with inspiring the improvements to school meals promoted by Jamie Oliver. The disappearance of the blue flavour in Smarties has also been attributed to pressure from Organix.

“We would say we have a proud tradition at Organix of challenging others when we think they could do a bit better,” said Mr Golder.

“We want to shine a light on what we think good nutrition looks like what we think constitutes good nutrition and we really mean it when we say we want to bring nutritious foods to kids but also foods that that are tasty and fit in with today’s quite busy, on-the-go lifestyles.”

The Good For Planet, Good For Me campaign aims to get “one extra portion of fruit and vegetables into little ones’ tummies over the next 12 months”, Mr Golder says,

It follows research suggesting 55 per cent of under-fours were having no more than two portions of vegetables a day.

There is no promotion of Organix products in the campaign. “The products we sell are not fresh fruit and fresh vegetables but, for instance, one of the new products we launched recently, Veggie Mini MixUps, is a snacking product but it contains different types of vegetables – beetroot and parsnip and peas and so on,” said Mr Golder.

“I think those two things reflect the same start point that we come from, which is we really want to help kids to enjoy a healthy diet, a varied nutritious diet. We feel passionate about the campaign but we also feel passionate about our product. We don’t necessarily need to combine the two but they really from the same place.”

Children’s snacks are a business where the consumer moves on quickly, but Mr Golder said that “any brand that’s focused on its consumer and its shopper really needs to have that in mind”.

And he said the business was seeing some of its original customers return. “We’re just arriving at that point where the grandparents were previously parents who brought Organix as well,” he said.