Two spreads – vegemite and jam. That’s it. Those were Seong-Lee Ang’s choices when it came to safe spreads for his children. Seong-Lee is a dad to a two-year-old and four-year-old both of whom have severe anaphylactic food allergies. ( buddee spreads )
Both his children are allergic to nuts but his daughter is allergic to dairy, eggs, whole nuts, sesame, fish, shellfish and citrus seeds and potentially additional foods.
It’s been pretty awful and it’s been a real challenge having such severe allergies. Eating out is really difficult. We take our own food for our daughter as no restaurant can cater to her allergies,” Seong-Lee told news.com.au.
“We have had multiple close calls, hospital visits and ambulances called and as she was heading towards school age it was most frightening thinking about her being at school with hundreds of other children eating lunch around her.”
School-safe nut-buddee spreads? Yep!
With his daughter heading to school, Seong-Lee started to look for some easy sandwich fillers and soon discovered that his options were quite limited.
There are hundreds of spreads in the spreads aisles and most contain nuts,” he explained.
And so, Buddeee was born – a range of nut-free spreads that children can take to school. Yes, folks, peanut butter (minus the peanut) and chocolate spread (like Nutella) are now on the lunch menu!
A long taste-testing road
But how do they taste? At first, Seong-Lee and his business partner, Rodney Chieng, admit they tasted terrible.
Allergy-free products are “notorious” for tasting a little weird and the first few versions of their nut-free spreads certainly failed to hit the mark, especially with Seong-Lee’s daughter who would scrunch her nose up every time.
Most of the first ones were disasters, in truth because of my children’s allergies I really wanted to make something that my daughter could eat and she’s not just allergic to nuts … so it was very limiting in terms of the ingredients we could use as we really wanted it to be allergen friendly,” Seong-Lee explains.
Dad-of-three Rodney was in charge of the product development, which took 60 versions of their first chocolate spread to get it right. They use chickpea as the main ingredient and uncovered that if roasted, it provides the nutlike flavour of the nutty spread.
It still tastes very familiar to people who still like nut spreads and people who do blind taste tests cannot believe it doesn’t contain nuts.”
Compared to other conventional spreads, Buddee contains less sugar, less saturated fat and is free from palm oil as well as being entirely free from the top 10 allergens including nuts, wheat, soy, dairy and sesame.
And, amazingly, they taste good too! It took 60 versions to get there but now Seong-Lee’s daughter asks for a Buddee sandwich daily.
Gamble paid off
The business partners invested around $400,000 of their own money to bring Buddee Spreads to life and their persistence (and taste testing) has paid off.
Both Woolworths and Coles jumped at the chance to stock Buddee spreads, in deals worth $1,000,000. Buddee Chocolate and Crunch spreads are now available in Woolworths and heading to Coles in September.
Seong-Lee and Rodney are beyond shocked and excited to see Buddee spreads in stores.
There are so many spreads on the shelves but all contain nuts, so there is a big gap in the market we are filling and the supermarkets needed it even though we haven’t sold a jar yet.
“We are trying to find a solution for Australian families and children at school. We want school playgrounds to be inclusive and no one to miss out but instead they can take Buddee and don’t harm the kids next to them.”
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