Frantic dash from Melbourne for Naturally Good was a timely move for Fodbods
For a lot of Melbourne exhibitors, the latest Naturally Good Expo in May was more drama-filled than usual. With a seven-day Victorian lockdown suddenly called from May 27 – Jun 3, falling on the same days of the Sydney-based expo, numerous exhibitors were not able to make it out of the state in time.
One Melbourne brand who did manage to make it across the border was Fodbods, the brainchild of Vanessa Hutchinson. The business, which produces Australia’s only certified FODMAP-friendly protein bars, was a first-time exhibitor and Vanessa pulled out all the stops to make the show.
“I was booked to fly to Sydney on Saturday but then heard the announcement on Thursday at 2pm that a lockdown was imminent and that border would close at 4pm,” says Vanessa.
“I told my husband that the show was now off for me, but he talked me into it saying I’d put in too much work not to make it. So, I literally threw everything – clothes, business material and a breast-pump – into a giant suitcase and was packed within 15 minutes. On the way to the airport I booked the last flight out at 4pm, which was now about 10 times the usual cost.
I raced to gate and was told as I’d technically still be in Melbourne at 4pm I would now need to quarantine for two weeks in Sydney on arrival. By that point I was almost crying and so stressed at having to leave my 10-week-old baby boy in such a hurry but decided to get on the plane anyway. On the flight they updated the information and stated, “If the only place you’ve been in Victoria after 4pm is an airport, you are exempt”. To say I was relieved was an understatement!
When I arrived, I realised I’d forgotten a lot of stuff. All I had for four days was the active wear I’d been wearing that day and Fodbods T-shirts. Which meant no fancy dinners out for me! But luckily, I had a team member in Sydney and had sent most things to him prior to the show so he was able to set up the stand on Saturday.”
Despite the chaos, the mad dash was all worth it in the end for Vanessa and the brand.
“I’m so glad I was able to get there in time – it was wonderful seeing people’s faces when they tasted our bars because they genuinely loved them. Many people came back to our stand multiple times to try more samples.
“We met a range of potential stockists – small independents, national chains and a number of international buyers. We probably got around 30 leads from the show and a few have turned into accounts. The major highlight for us was landing an account with the SPAR convenience store chain.”
A gap in the market
Vanessa first discovered the low FODMAP diet after years of suffering from gut issues. “It completely transformed my life and inspired me to help others make the same change. I identified a distinct lack of healthy, convenient FODMAP friendly food in the market so I started Fodbods in 2019 to fill that gap.”
Vanessa showcased her flagship range of bars, which are also gluten-free, made locally from 100 per cent natural plant based. Flavours include Peanut Choc Chunk, Choc Mint, Lemon Coconut, Raspberry Coconut and Banana Peanut Butter.
“The reactions were really positive. People are always sceptical about new food products, as a lot of them don’t taste as good as they claim. But I genuinely think Fodbods are different – the quality of the products really speaks for itself so we always promote sampling.”
A growing, loyal customer base
Since launching at the end of 2019, Fodbods has grown substantially. The bars are now sold in over 300 locations around Australia and NZ and sport thousands of loyal customers. The brand has also just launched their online UK store.
Fodbods has also just expanded their product range, which now includes Fodbod Buddies – kids bars which are 100 per cent natural, allergy friendly and certified FODMAP friendly. The healthy low-sugar bars come in two delicious flavours – Strawberry Shortcake and Lamington.
“As a first-time exhibitor, it was a fantastic opportunity to get in front of key people in the industry including customers, buyers, distributors. You get direct feedback on your products and suggestions for new product development which is really invaluable. It’s also great to see what other brands are doing and learn about new market trends. It’s well worth the trip if you’re an interstate brand.”
Interested in exhibiting? Naturally Good returns to Sydney 6-7 June 2022 at ICC. Speak to a member of our team for more information.