While keto is the new(ish) diet that has been hitting the headlines recently, a British brand is banking on paleo as the lifestyle choice with greater staying power.
Cru8 has a line-up of 22 products that avoid gluten, wheat, dairy and refined sugar, including paleo-friendly bread, crackers and sweet treats.
Its founder, Alexi von Eldik, predicts that while many more keto products will hit the UK market – particularly with Planet Organic currently promoting a new fat bar – paleo has the potential for greater longevity.
“I think keto is quite hard to sustain,” she tells Food Spark. “Keto is obviously a very restricted diet but paleo is a bit more forgiving, so I think people might cycle into keto but then they will revert to paleo. With paleo they can still have low carb, but it’s not as strict as keto. Keto is super low carb.”
Based on US trends, von Eldik believes paleo still has a lot of room to grow in the UK, as the diet claims a host of health benefits: it’s said to lower blood sugar levels and blood pressure, and is anti-inflammatory as well as being good for the gut.
“It hasn’t actually caught on as much here, it has a lot more runway room. particularly with keto being so hot – paleo has to be there too,” she says. “But also my products aren’t just paleo, they are a really healthy snack and treat. We try and push the nourishing aspects to it.”
Additionally, Cru8 is aiming its goodies at the free-from market, which is now estimated to be worth £837m, having grown 37.5% in 2018. More than two in three households bought a private-label free-from product last year.
Attracting shoppers in-store and through delivery
Cru8 has seven SKUs available in Selfridges, including Almond Macaroons, Cacao Macaroons, Cacao & Orange Macaroons, Pistachio Macaroons, Chocolate Chip Cookies and Oatmeal & Raisin Cookies (each £6.99 for a 160g box) – which von Eldik says is a real stamp of approval for the brand.
It is also featured on Deliveroo, where it offers paleo breads made with ingredients like kale, banana and cacao, fig and apple, banana and courgette, and spiced carrot, plus food from its Chelsea deli, including salads, soups, chicken pies and raw desserts like cheesecakes and salted caramel slices.
“Teaming up with Deliveroo is all about gaining a wider audience and being on the app itself is amazing marketing,” comments von Eldik. “People are looking at our menus and ordering and trying the products.”
The seed for Cru8 was planted when von Eldik was originally running a delivery detox business back in 2012, making her raw macaroons, crackers and kale crisps.
People wanted more then delivery – they wanted to know where they could buy the products. It was a lightbulb moment for von Eldik, who then launched Cru8, selling the products at the York Square food markets in Chelsea before landing in Oliver’s Wholefood Store.
Playing with paleo
Cookbooks are one of von Eldik's favourite places for inspiration, with flavours key to her food experimentation.
“I grew up in Asia, and there is a lot of influence from there,” she says. “Adding the good bits, like courgette in the banana and courgette bread, was really important as getting the veg into your food is really key.”
However, not all product development has been a success. “I dabbled in doing raw cakes and a raw bread, but actually at the end of the day it’s a matter of shelf life. I would take the cakes to the market and it would be a hot day and they would melt, so it really didn’t work,” she explains.
But there is quite a bit of NPD going on for Cru8, including an ambient range of breads for Selfridges, which doesn't have the chiller space for the current range, as well as vegan versions of the bread and a pear and cardamom sweet loaf.
“I’m looking at a full paleo range of products but at a lower price point. Rather than, let’s say, raw crackers, I’ll have baked crackers and biscuits that are grain-free and paleo style,” she comments. “Currently, my paleo line and all my other products are raw, so they have been dehydrated, rather than baked. It's much more labour intensive, but the product is very high quality because all the nutrition is kept intact through a low-temperature drying process.”