Granola Made in the Hills of Donegal

Food Coast Donegal is home to another new member, Amanda’s Healthy Snacks, which produces a healthy, nutritious, and luxurious granola, proudly made in the Hills of Donegal. For this month’s Food Coast ezine, we caught up with the woman behind the business, Amanda Thompson.

What was your inspiration for setting up the business?

I carried it over from my previous business Bodyfuel, where we catered for health-conscious consumers using all local and fresh ingredients. My granola was always a huge hit at the trailer, so I spotted a gap in the market for a healthy no added sugar granola. We set out to create a healthy and luxurious product with no added sugar, using only organic honey and vanilla extract to sweeten, with pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts and 85% dark chocolate. The end-result is a granola unlike anything you’ve ever tasted; it can be enjoyed anytime of the day, from breakfast to supper, or as a quick and convenient snack while on the go.

And you’ve been getting a great reception?

Yes, we’re delighted with the reception that we’ve been getting since we launched last September; it’s flying off the shelves better than I ever could have imagined. We are currently stocked in nine places around Donegal and one in Derry, and I plan to have it in another ten before summer.

How did you go about setting up the business?

Well, this project has been four years in the making. I started off making small batches and putting my own touch to it by adding real dark chocolate chunks making this a luxurious product. I then took it to St Angela’s in Sligo where it was tested for nutrition and shelf- life; they were so impressed with how well this product kept for six weeks or more. So then, I worked on getting it into its proper packaging and onto shelves around Donegal and beyond.

What advice do you have for anyone harbouring a dream of setting up a food business.

I would really recommend linking in with your Local Enterprise Office as I found great support there. From doing Start Your Own Food Business courses to labelling workshops, I really benefited from the courses and training they provided. It’s also a great place to go to get advice and help with your business idea and the networking opportunities through The Food Coast Donegal helps connect you with other businesses in the region. Their courses and training are a great way of keeping you up to date on the latest trends impacting your business.

Where do you hope to be in one year’s time? And five years?

I definitely hope to have my granola in every single town in Donegal as well as other counties like Sligo, Dublin, Galway, and Cork.

What’s your favourite thing about making granola?

The aroma that comes from baking this product is something else; each batch is carefully made in small quantities for better taste. I also love the fact that when I’m baking it, I’m putting all of my heart into this product, so you are always getting the best. The feedback is probably my favourite part; people enjoying my product and seeing my name attached to it gives me great inspiration and I’m so thankful that I took the leap and created this product.

And your favourite things about being your own boss and working in Donegal

Since previously owning my own food business Bodyfuel, I said I would never work for another person. Being your own boss means you can do your own hours and put whatever you can into your business; it is definitely hard work, but it’s yours and that’s the main thing. And I love that I can live, work and build a business in Donegal. My product is all about Donegal as I make it here in my cottage industry and do all the packing myself. I feel Donegal is definitely a real food hotspot at the moment, with so many amazing products out there and I am very proud to be one of them.

Find out more about Amanda’s Granola