The company’s CEO, Robert Sak was featured on Dragons’ Den in November when he pitched for investment from the Dragons in his innovative bread company. Deborah Meaden agreed to invest in the business, you can read more about it here.
We interviewed Robert recently to find out more about his business, the partnership with Deborah, why he’s committed to organic and more.
How did Pure Grain Bread start?
About three years ago, I started a journey, looking for a product that I could sell to make a living. I wanted something that was unique as I knew it would have a higher chance of success. So, with my wife Magda, I started product research and development in our kitchen. The bread we developed is grain free, made with oats, seeds and psyllium husks.
We started selling the bread to local Polish shops and this gave us great feedback from customers, who really liked the product. At this stage the bread had a 4-5 day shelf life and was sold unpacked like in a bakery. The feedback helped us to develop the product further and it was so well received that we started researching and developing packaging so it could be viable for supermarkets.
How did you become listed in Waitrose?
I always had the opinion that it was very difficult to get to see buyers at the major retailers and I’ve since found out that this is the case. But for some reason Waitrose was easiest sale I’ve ever made. We sent samples to the buyer, she loved the product and emailed straight away saying she wanted us to come in.
Being listed in Waitrose gave us the income we needed to focus on further development of the product. This resulted in the organic and gluten free versions and was a turning point for the business.
At this stage the bread had a shelf life of 12 days and now that’s been extended to 6 weeks.
Tell us about the bread.
The range is called Heart of Nature, and it’s a range of flour-free unique breads and rolls which are high in fibre and packed with seeds and wholegrains so it’s very nutrient dense. It’s baked without flour or yeast. Most of the products are gluten free so are suitable for people with coeliac disease. They are all organic.
In 2018 we won two Nourish Awards for our bread and were also commended in the Quality Awards Quality Food Category and the Good choice! Quality Food category.
What made you commit to organic?
Initially the bread we sold to Waitrose was not organic – but I always wanted it to be. The problem we found, which I’m sure many businesses do is that it’s not easy to find certified bakeries for organic products. Also, the ingredients were difficult to find, especially the ones that we use. So, this is why the product wasn’t organic from the beginning. Also, the cost of production was higher.
Saying that, the aim was always to be organic. We knew it was the right thing to do with our product. I thought at the time, the bread is so good, so why not make it perfect?
How is Deborah Meaden helping you?
The programme was recorded sometime before the November airing, and we’ve just had a meeting with Deborah.
She’s so well-connected in the food industry. She knows the health and free from sector particularly well too and has a strong commitment to sustainability and organic. She’s also well-placed in hospitality and marketing, so the partnership will be very good for the business on many levels.
What made you want to join the OTB?
I see that joining the OTB is about joining forces with other members of the organic sector. It’s about being part of the bigger picture.
What’s on the horizon for 2019?
As well as our bread we have our organic raw unpasteurised sauerkraut which we sell to Polish shops already. It’s a very traditional Polish product, and I’ve found it’s gaining a lot of attention from clients here. It’s listed in Planet Organic and will be available from other retailers.
In Poland where I am from, fermented products are part of the everyday diet, we eat a lot of it. It’s great to see the interest in these products is spreading.
Demand for our bread products is growing very rapidly so we are expanding. Particularly with a focus on exporting to Greece, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Ireland.
We have also developed, and are just finalising a granola bar, which is based on the same mixture as the bread, so is low in sugar, organic, nutrient-dense and filling because it’s made with oats, seeds and psyllium husks.