Think chocolate is an unhealthy snack. Think again. In its purest form, this food can yield some striking health benefits. With that in mind, perhaps it’s time we changed the story. Anne Bader from the Nu+Company tells us how Thomas and Mathias, two industrial engineers, turned their love of healthy chocolate into a massively successful business.
First of all, tell us a bit about how Nu+Company started?
Birmingham, England, at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Master’s Thesis. Getting hungry already. Turning into hangry after a while. Three hours to go ‘till dinner. What on earth am I supposed to eat at this time of the day without feeling bad afterwards? Sugar shock? No, thanks! English sandwiches? Hell, no!
The idea started with an everyday problem. Thomas and Mathias were unhappy with the available offer of sweets and rather wanted to get a complete range of nutrients instead of sugar and empty calories. They needed brain power for work and energy for sports. Chocolate is not per se unhealthy, but it definitely gets unhealthy if there is too much sugar in it.
And so they began to create their bar by applying their knowledge about nutritional science – and the result was fantastic. Their product showed a much higher share of protein, was low carb, vegan and a real nutrient bomb. Its combination comprises the most nutritious ingredients of all: hulled hemp seeds, raw cacao and chia seeds amongst other ingredients.
Tell us about that journey so far?
Eventually, the two industrial engineers could apply their know-how from the university. For instance, how sustainable supply chains can be built up, how the organisation of manufacturing works or how nutrients can be analysed.
However, if it hadn’t been for Chris, their marketing would have been a disaster. Luckily, he could breathe new life into their campaign. And only he could manage the communication between the two top-designers Elisa and Cora and the company.
Real sustainability begins with farmers. Hence, the three of them flew to Bali in order to check on the quality of their cacao and the fair trade with the local farmers. During their stay, they made a video which was the basis for the first crowdfunding campaign in 2016.
This campaign and the next months were really successful and since the Nucao product launch in 2017 the company is now present in almost all organic stores and in some food retailers in Germany. Furthermore, the brand is on the shelves in Austria, the Benelux countries, Scandinavia, Korea, of course, the UK, to be continued.
What makes Nucao different from other chocolate brands on the market?
Our goal was to reinvent chocolate. There are many points distinguishing Nucao from other chocolates. It consists mainly of raw chocolate and hemp seeds, nourishing the body with the perfect combination of proteins, fats and carbs and contain also vitamins, minerals and trace elements.
Nucao covers with 40% almost half of the daily requirement of magnesium which can be just rarely found in our food and is lost by stress. In comparison with other convenient chocolate bars Nucao is winning in terms of protein and “low-carb” which makes it a good alternative for people with diabetes. In addition to that, it is naturally free from gluten, lactose and soya.
Protein shakes – which you also make – can get a bad rap thanks to sweeteners and additives. How is Nupro changing that story?
Just like Nucao, we created Nupro out of the need for a nutritious shake in addition to a healthy diet. The basic requirements for our products stayed the same. Organic fruit power instead of artificial aromas, coconut blossom nectar instead of refined sugars or sweeteners like stevia, pea and sunflower protein instead of whey protein which is actually neither good for you nor for the cow.
Nupro is not for bodybuilder wanting to grow their biceps as fast as possible but a lifestyle product for everybody caring about a healthy diet. The protein supply is the main focus as it gives the body all the essential amino acids the body cannot produce itself. They contribute to the maintenance and creation of muscle tissue. On top of that, Nupro contains fibre which is super important for the gut bacteria and psyllium husks for better digestion. You see – everything is well thought out!
In addition to that, a compromise in terms of sustainability was not an option. This is why we bugged the producer of our packaging ending up with the first garden compostable foil for protein powder worldwide! As avoiding plastic is just not enough for our mission, we are proud that the one-on-one system of planting a tree for every product sold also applies to Nupro.
What is your most popular product and why?
Our most popular products so far are definitely Nucao hazelnut and cashew vanilla. The reason is obvious – hazelnut is one of the three stronger ones so for all the dark chocolate lovers whereas cashew vanilla is, of the three mild ones, the mildest/sweetest being the best alternative for all milk chocolate fans.
Nevertheless, there is no difference in the amount of coconut blossom nectar – the mild taste just comes from the vanilla and the stronger one because of the roasting of the hazelnuts underneath the Mediterranean sun in Italy. In addition to that those are not too exotic for people buying us for the first time.
Tell us about the Nu Tree campaign, in which you plant a tree somewhere in the world for each product sold. How did it start?
Nowadays it is just not enough to work resource-friendly and ecological. We have to act proactively to extract carbon dioxide from the air. This is the reason why, since 2017, we started the collaboration with Eden Projects, an NGO that works mainly in Madagascar and supports human animal to rebuilt their basis of life in logging spots.
What impact does the campaign make on the communities?
Having planted more than half a million trees, for instance, the effects are versatile: more biodiversity, less erosion, fertile ground for farming and jobs for the local population. Mangroves are true power trees talking about carbon dioxide absorption – more than 300 kg per tree. This is appropriate for a car journey from Rome to Stockholm.
To get an impression of the impact the trees make, watch this video:
What does the future hold for the Nu+company?
Our plan for the next ten years is a mixture of realistic goals and creative visions. In 2029 we want the nu company to be THE sustainable lifestyle multi-product-brand in the food industry – not only in Germany but also worldwide.
Famous for innovative and functional organic food on the one hand and a supporter of worldwide reforestation projects and education initiatives on the other hand. Optimally, we will have published a book that is an opinion maker for sustainable and healthy diets, an own forest with an office in a tree house just as office dogs and air taxis!