Eat Natural saw its sales climb 15% last year

Eat Natural saw its sales climb 15% last year

Rising commodity prices have weighed on annual profits at UK snack bar and cereal maker Eat Natural, offsetting higher sales in 2011.

Eat Natural saw its sales climb 15% last year but increases in raw material costs and the challenge of selling to cautious consumers meant profits were flat, when compared to 2010, co-founder Preet Grewal told just-food.

"Commodity price rises have been really, really tough. We've taken a bit of a margin knock on that. It's been hard to get any price increases into the market place because you don't want to put a price up to the consumer, if anything you want to provide a better offer. In the end, we had to put in a small price increase but we have run a few more promotions," Grewal told just-food.

He said consumer interest in healthier products had driven the increase in Eat Natural's sales in 2011. "Sales are up 15%, you can't argue with that. People are still interested in what they eat, how they eat and, if anything, there's still more people looking to try and make healthier choices.

The privately-owned UK company does not disclose its financial numbers until it files its results at Companies House, which is set to take place later this year. For the year to the end of March 2011, according to Companies House, profits climbed by 14.3% to GBP601,458 (US$948,295), while sales grew by 9% to GBP16.2m.

This year will see Eat Natural relaunch its range of breakfast cereals in the UK. The company, which was founded in 1997, initially focused on snack bars but in 2008 introduced a range of toasted mueslis. However, the company has decided to revamp the range to bring it more in line with its snack bars.

"The toasted muesli descriptor wasn't as strong as playing on the ingredients side, which is what our strength is. It just didn't sing the tune the bars did. The cereals are now much more in-tune with the bar range," Grewal said. The products are set to be launched next month and Eat Natural has secured listings with Waitrose.

Speaking to just-food at the ISM confectionery and snack exhibition in Cologne, Grewal said there was "a lot more opportunity" for Eat Natural to grow on the Continent, where it has its biggest export markets, including the Netherlands, Belgium and France. Exports account for 20% of Eat Natural's turnover.

"People are still making choices about consumption around their health on a day to day basis and that provides a good opportunity for us. There aren't many products like ours out there."