In­no­va­tion and qual­ity give food com­pany the edge

By com­mer­cial­is­ing sea­son­ings, spices and bak­ing in­gre­di­ents and bring­ing a new so­phis­ti­ca­tion to the hot cho­co­late cat­e­gory, Tracy Foulkes and Paul Raphaely have built a food and life­style brand that ex­ports to over 30 coun­tries.

Finweek English Edition - - ON THE MONEY - By Glen­neis Kriel

the NOMU food and life­style brand was cre­ated 16 years ago, when Tracy Foulkes be­came frus­trated with the stress and sea­son­al­ity of the cater­ing in­dus­try in Cape Town. Foulkes had al­ways had a pas­sion for flavour and with the en­cour­age­ment of her part­ner, Paul Raphaely, whom she mar­ried in 2006, she de­cided to com­mer­cialise some of her home­made sea­son­ing so­lu­tions. NOMU, which started in Tracy’s small kitchen in Oran­jezicht, has since de­vel­oped into a lead­ing food in­no­va­tor de­signed to in­spire cre­ativ­ity in the kitchen – not only in South Africa but across the globe. Paul, the di­rec­tor and co-founder of NOMU, talked to fin­week about the de­vel­op­ment of the brand.

Why did you de­cide to start a com­pany?

Tracy was look­ing for some­thing more re­li­able and sta­ble than what she was get­ting from the cater­ing busi­ness. At first, she wanted to open an up­mar­ket “desti­na­tion” food em­po­rium, which may still hap­pen one day, but in­stead de­cided first to trial some of her home­made sea­son­ing so­lu­tions at a hand­ful of spe­cial­ity out­lets in Cape Town. It took al­most three months be­fore we un­ex­pect­edly re­ceived our first ex­port or­der, which re­sulted in the idea of a food em­po­rium be­ing placed on hold in favour of a food in­no­va­tion man­u­fac­tur­ing busi­ness.

How do you fit into the busi­ness?

Tracy and I are equal part­ners in NOMU. She is largely re­spon­si­ble for new prod­uct de­vel­op­ment, cre­ative di­rec­tion and vis­ual ex­e­cu­tion, sup­ported by an amaz­ing team. I try to get to the rest, rang­ing from sales, mar­ket­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing to brand cham­pion, de­liv­ery boy and tea lady. It’s a mixed bag, but it works, most of the time.

Why spices and flavours?

Tracy has al­ways loved flavour, as a con­cept. She had al­ways kept lit­er­ally dozens of dif­fer­ent home­made sea­son­ing so­lu­tions and sauces in her own home or avail­able to her pro­fes­sion­ally for the cater­ing busi­ness, so in a way con­vert­ing these to com­mer­cial prod­uct was rel­a­tively easy. Spices are a pas­sion too. It’s so much eas­ier to make a suc­cess when pur­su­ing a pas­sion, some­thing you love.

There is a lot of com­pe­ti­tion in the spice in­dus­try. How does NOMU dif­fer­en­ti­ate it­self from other prod­ucts?

NOMU’s role has al­ways been to in­no­vate in food con­cepts. We were the first to in­tro­duce the con­cept of a spice “rub” to South Africa. I sup­pose we man­aged to stand out from ev­ery­thing else in our rel­a­tive “new­ness”. We also paid a lot of close at­ten­tion to strong and eye-catch­ing pack­ag­ing, which we have aimed to main­tain ever since.

Our cen­tral phi­los­o­phy, though, has al­ways been to en­sure that the ac­tual con­tents are al­ways high­est qual­ity and con­sis­tently amaz­ing, and live up to the prom­ise of the pack­ag­ing. This is what we would want for our­selves in any item

NOMU was the first com­pany to in­tro­duce spice rubs to the South African mar­ket.

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