Please introduce yourself: What does your start-up do?
I am Ebru Erkunt, founder of HaselHerz, which offers the healthiest alternatives to spreads and chocolates. HaselHerz products are healthy, organic, and vegan, while the ingredients list is clean and short. It supports everyone who is looking for a healthy lifestyle.
How did you come up with an idea and concept? What inspired and motivated you to create this product?
I was searching for healthy and delicious food, and that was always a challenge. Products on the shelves are typically full of refined sugar and contain palm oil. The healthy options, on the other hand, did not taste good. These were the primary drivers for creating HaselHerz. In my childhood, in the home country of my parents, in Turkey, I have always eaten a hazelnut spread which inspired me to create some of my own. I have searched for something similar in Germany, but could not find anything. That is how the journey started.
What is unique about your business idea and operating model?
HaselHerz products are entirely organic, contain no added industrial sugar or fat and offer a unique taste. We only use Levantine hazelnuts in the manufacture of our products. The Black Sea Region of Turkey is known for its excellent hazelnuts. They are hand-picked, fuller in flavour, crunchy, and firm: they virtually melt in your mouth. You can taste the difference immediately.
The products are sweetened with grape concentrate or coconut blossom sugar. Grapes are rich in calcium and magnesium, while coconut blossom sugar has a low glycaemic index. It helps to keep the blood sugar level low.
The result? A healthy, delicious taste explosion that delivers a hefty dose of vitamins, minerals, protein, and fibre.
Our products are lactose-free, gluten-free, free from industrial sugar and suitable for vegans. We are targeting environmentally aware shoppers, foodies, vegans, paleo diet followers, people with diabetes and those who avoid refined sugar in their diets.
HaselHerz products can be used as a delicious, nutty alternative at breakfast or as a topping on muesli, they can be stirred into yoghurt with fruit or sprinkled over pancakes. It adds a touch of ‘nuttiness’ to the rice pudding, applesauce, milkshake, ice cream and smoothie. Even sauces and salads can benefit from a crunchy kick. After all, you can always simply eat it with a spoon.
What were the most significant difficulties you had to overcome while building your startup?
There were a lot of different issues. For instance, I had a hard time producing every jar in my commercial kitchen, as the number of orders was increasing but the time for finalising was too short. Also, the missing cash flow makes it very hard.
Where do you see yourself and your company in 5 years?
My target is that in 5 years the brand HaselHerz is well-known and our spreads are almost on every breakfast table in Germany and Austria. Additionally, I hope that HaselHerz will still be listed at METRO Cash&Carry Austria and Germany and in all real,- stores with an extended portfolio.
What are your expectations from the NX-FOOD programme?
I am glad that over this platform I can reach a variety of decision makers. Of course, a final listing in all the METRO Cash&Carry stores in Austria and Germany would be the best case scenario for HaselHerz.
What are your main milestones and achievements?
February 2014: Launch of HaselHerz at BioFach 2014
March 2015: first listing in 30 organic retail stores (BioCompany)
November 2016: won Vegan Innovation Award for the spread: Süsse Nuss
February 2018: Launch of 2 chocolate bars and chocolate spread
April 2018: selected for test listing at METRO Cash&Carry Austria
Ebru Erkunt, Founder
Elif Erkunt, Assistant Marketing and Sales