FOOD – Can a boot-strapped Kiwi bakery make it big?

6 June 2017

Robert Glensor has baked bread since he was a teenager. His Purebread organic gluten free bakery has now been going more than 20 years. Now, along with servicing specialty organic stores, online selling is a focus outside of the big supermarkets.

Back in the early 1980s Robert Glensor was a solo Dad who could bake. He used his hand baked bread as the basis for some go-to meals for the kids and as his ‘bring a plate’ special for parties. It was so popular he decided to go into baking professionally in 1996. Purebread now produces more than 40 organic and gluten free foods. It operates under the brand names Purebread, Gluten Free Goodies Company and 4 Ever Free.

“It went from nothing to reasonable fairly quickly,” he remembers. “I was contract baking at someone else’s place, but I outgrew that within a year.”

Robert had previously been involved in organic and biodynamic farming. This made organic certification with BioGro a must. It provided a clear point of difference. It also represented an early investment in a top quality supply chain, sustainable through and through.

“It allows us to just do what we do,” he explains. “We trust the certifying body. They work very hard and are very stringent. There’s no way we as a small company could go off to China to check different farmer out!”

Convincing people about the superior taste and quality of his bread has never been difficult. They just have to try it.

“It’s the natural fermentation that gives the flavour and makes it more digestible,” says Robert. “It’s straightforward clean food.”

But convincing modern consumers to pay the little extra required for the better product has proved more challenging.

“The general perception is that the other bakery goods are fine, that there’s no problem with the other stuff,” he says. “Organic is mostly about what is not in a food, so the around 30% more expensive than most loaves, makes great food value, gram for gram.”

He says supermarkets operating ‘sale or return’ schemes with suppliers also makes it tough. Any unsold and unpaid-for bread becoming a drain on the business and a source of waste that Robert is unwilling to tolerate.

“I can’t cope with the fact that our great food gets dumped into landfill,” he says. “That’s why we have extended out to online shopping. It’s our best chance to be honest to our principles, working direct with interested people.

Unless there is a major shift in perception, I don’t really think we would ever be a major supermarket item.”

Similar issues are being played out among many breakthrough good food businesses around the country.

Robert’s advice?

“Sustainable goes hand in hand with Organics. Be prepared to work very hard and waste nothing. Be absolutely persistent and trust what you are doing. Be careful of well-meaning advisers. Some can be more interested in themselves, wanting a large slice of your small pie.”

The Sustainable Business Network’s Good Food Boost exists to assist businesses on issues like this in their start-up phase. This year the Boost is coming to Wellington. Details will be announced soon on the SBN website.


SAVE $2.50  off ever loaf, pizza pack, buns and Flatties

Just type     Sustainable Food      in Coupon Code at check out.

Free home or office Deliveries for orders over $26. Offer available to July 31st 2017