Eamon plants us with a real tasty snack idea



Eamon Canning, managing director of Hempful in Londonderry has just launched a range of protein bars made with hemp

Londonderry native Eamon has created Hempful, an organic food company based at Campsie outside the Maiden City, which has developed a four-strong range of protein bars that contain hemp, with two of the variants being further infused with CBD Oil.

The original bars have already won business with Aldi for its 142 stores in the Republic of Ireland and are currently being distributed in Northern Ireland by WJ Shaw’s, Belfast’s leading confectionery distribution business.

Eamon continues: “We are really excited by the feedback we are receiving about the bars which are all made from natural ingredients and are high in fibre, have no added sugar, no added sweeteners, are suitable for vegans and have fewer than 10 ingredients. They are based on my passion for healthy foods, sustainable living and a longstanding curiosity in the benefits of plant foods, including natural hemp and associated CBD oils.

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The new bars developed by Hempful in Londonderry

“This interest in hemp led me to undertake extensive research into the therapeutic benefits of the plant which have been accepted for many centuries worldwide. I wanted to find out as much as I could about how hemp is grown and its applications in Europe. I visited numerous locations across Europe, engaging with multiple hemp growers, processors and producers about the plant.

“The perfect partnership was realised with a pesticides and herbicides free farm in the Northern mountains of Croatia. This led me to set up a local business initially to produce CBD oils using hemp grown in Croatia and processed into oil by the most respected and successful Croatian laboratory based in Austria. Blending of the oils and bottling is carried out at our own small production unit here in Derry. And it’s here where the protein bars have been developed.”

His decision to link up with the grower in Croatia was also influenced by climate and soil conditions in the eastern European nation which was once part of Yugoslavia until independence in June 1991. Hemp growing and its industrial and medical applications there are closely regulated in the country.

“Our oils have been developed and are positioned and marketed as a food supplement. The oils are used in sprays and other applications. We do not make any health claims about the oils which are perfectly legal and are to be found on the shelves of health food shops across Ireland,” Eamon continues.

The diversification into protein bars followed the successful launch of the CBD oils and CBD tea in 2017.

“The launch of the protein bars was not only a proud innovation but also a logical extension of the business due to the growth of the healthy snacking trend among consumers especially in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland.

“We developed the recipes in Derry and launched our first nutritionally dense, protein and fibre rich bars earlier in the year,” Eamon explains. “To put it simply, our bars, I am convinced, are really healthy, potentially redefining the health bars category!”

The company has developed a range of handy 60g bars – Original, CBD Infusion, Protein and Sports Plus.

Hempful, which currently employs five people, has trade marked the brand and is now implementing an extensive marketing campaign in the UK and Ireland. In addition, the company has drawn on the route to market, merchandising and marketing expertise of food industry consultant Michael Keogh of Ideal Food Solutions in Enniskillen.

Being included in the ‘Grow with Aldi’ scheme in May 2020 represented a “an immensely significant breakthrough” for the business, according to Mr Canning. “It came amid the pandemic lockdown and was a marvellous boost for our small enterprise at such a difficult time for everyone.

“The opportunity to supply Aldi’s vast network of stores across the Republic was a tremendously important and encouraging boost, so soon after the launch of the bars,” he continues. “It was a great endorsement of the product by an influential European supermarket chain and an exciting opportunity to increase awareness of hemp and our bars among consumers here and further afield.”

The new distribution agreement with the 1877 family founded WJ Shaw and Sons in Belfast, he says, will further strengthen Hempful’s access to the many leading independent retailers across Northern Ireland.

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