Sweet houmous. This was something unheard of in the UK, until HOU! HOU is an awesome start-up who have put an innovative twist on classic houmous with a delicious sweet range. Owner Harry Tyndall gives us an inside look on how he deals with fresh product problems, new flavours, how he came up with it and more!
What is HOU?
HOU is the UK’s first sweet houmous brand. We have 3 delicious flavours – Choc-O-Chick, Banoffee and Mixed Berry
Why did you want to start a business, what’s the story behind HOU?
I always had the urge to try something on my own one day and specifically food related. I am a genuine foodie, where I have eaten at over 300 restaurants across the world in the last 4 years and have eaten so much food, I have the gout and kidney stones to prove it.
“My gout and kidney stones has sadly impacted my life quite dramatically where I am now banned from eating red meat and have become pretty much dairy free.”
What are the biggest challenges when bringing a fresh product to market? How do you handle the shorter shelf life?
With a 3-week shelf life, it means there is more pressure on stock – it needs to be sold very quickly and there can’t be any delays in the supply chain. Each day matters and its critical products are kept at the right temperature. We deal with the short shelf life through a little stress and working as closely as possible with our manufacture.
Sweet houmous was unheard of, how did you first think of it?
I have a horrendous sweet tooth – the worst. I used to drink ice cream tubs and eat boxes of chocolate like they were popcorn. In addition to this, I love houmous and I went on the hunt for sweet houmous and couldn’t find it. When telling my wife ‘I want to quit work and launch a sweet houmous brand’, she thought I had taken something. When I started researching into it and I saw the concept was working well in America, I proved to her that I wasn’t going too bonkers.
How do you decide on new flavours? Were there any that didn’t make it to market?
Firstly, you can’t have a sweet product range without something chocolatey – right? So, the chocolate decision was easy. I personally love banoffee pie and myself and partner Jake agreed that we should launch with two other flavours which were fruit based but very different. Our banoffee is sweeter whereas the berry is sourer, so we are able cover the two different types of fruit sweet cravings. Originally the Mixed Berry was a Berry Lemon, blueberry and lemon, but the colour wasn’t too attractive, and the flavour was not strong enough, so we introduced strawberry and then the raspberries.
How important is establishing a brand when launching a new product?
The power of a brand means everything. If Coke launched a new product everyone will buy it because ‘its Coke’, regardless of how good/bad it may be.
“I think this shows that the brand can always sell but the brand will need to ensure that taste, their range and story secure customer retention and growth.”
The challenge with HOU is that budgets were very small plus we were launching a concept that had never been done before in Europe or the UK – a brand dedicated to making the most fashionable snack to take a HUGE turn and a sweet one at that. We chose the name HOU because we wanted something short, catchy and memorable which we could cleverly integrate in our communications, such as – HOU would have thought – sweet houmous!? & HOU could say no!? We are very happy with the response we have had to the brand – people find us unique and playful, with a humorous and positive tone of voice. I think challenges will differ for brands depending on what category they enter and how established it is, as some brands can piggy back of successful competitors and trends.
Are there any new flavours in the works?
We have another flavour in mind, but first, we need to fully establish our own brand and current flavours first.
The fresh category is full of innovation at the moment, do you think this will continue in 2019?
Food habits are changing more than ever, we are even eating insects! Fresh food options have not developed as they have with dried products, so I think it will soon be time for fresh foods to have their ‘turn’, but the challenges are far greater which is why people maybe avoid going fresh!
“I feel like the major retailers themselves are becoming more innovative with their own fresh products than independent brands.”
The on the go market and QSR’s have been fantastic at introducing new food ideas – I look at Pret & M&S as an example, who continue to offer a wide variety of great-tasting food. Convenient snack pots and half sandwiches have been great ideas.
Where can people find your delicious houmous?
People can find us at Selfridges, at houloveshou.com and a few other local independents in north London.
What does the future hold for HOU?
We have some amazing plans to expand our range and want to become the no1 household houmous brand in the UK. First off, we want to secure a major retailer in 2019 and take things from there.
HOU are thriving with no plans on slowing down, 2019 is going to be their biggest year yet! Can’t wait to get your hands on some HOU? You can get your fix here!