What started as an allergic reaction to peanuts, quickly became my mission to create an inclusive snacking company with one big goal, to offer snacks that everyone can enjoy! Ohh! Foods is more than just a snack-making company, we are a community doing our part to make the world a little safer and sweeter for everyone!
Me, Brittany Charlton, founder, and CEO of Ohh! Foods, developed a new allergy to peanuts when I was 18 years old, while my family was having a movie night, and I was enjoying my favorite snack, M&M Peanuts, as every other movie night. When all of a sudden it felt hard to breathe, my throat started to close, and before I knew it I was being rushed to the hospital.
After what felt like hours, I finally got to the hospital and was immediately admitted. After being given some meditation and running tests, the doctors discovered that I had developed a peanut and tree-nut allergy.
I was in denial for a long time about my allergy diagnosis. I started wondering “am I never going to be able to have my favorite snacks ever again?”
As I was learning to accept the fact that I had a serious allergy and could no longer enjoy my favorite snacks as I used to, I had a difficult time finding snacks that matched exactly what I expected them to taste like or what I remembered they tasted like.
There were also a few times when I was told something was free from peanuts or tree nuts, but when I turned the package around to read the ingredients, it wasn’t.
Taking Matters into My Own Hands
I started to create snacks and share them with my family and friends. I would find recipes online, most of which contained nuts, and challenge myself to find substitutes. I would always look forward to going to Bulk Barn every week, choosing the ingredients, and creating something delicious for me and my loved ones.
After months of developing my own recipes and allergy-friendly snacks, my Mom gave me that last push to encourage me to sell to the store down the street. I felt a little intimidated but had a gut feeling that this could be something that could help others struggling with food allergies.
Fast forward to today, Ohh! Foods now offers edible cookie dough that is ready-to-eat and ready-to-bake, mini-doughs for snack-size portions on-the-go, frosting, and snack bites! All of which are vegan, gluten-free, allergen-friendly, and free of the top ten allergens. After experiencing allergies firsthand, I`ve gone above and beyond to ensure that anyone and everyone can enjoy my products safely and become as obsessed as I am with them!
In the fall of 2018, I took a bold step and launched Ohh! Foods, a company that aimed to provide a catalog of allergen-friendly, vegan, and gluten-free products. Despite the challenges that come with building a new business, my hard work and determination paid off within just 8 months of its launch, Ohh! Foods’ Apple Pie and Coconut Brownie bites were available in leading retail stores such as Sobeys, Healthy Planet, Metro, and Bed Bath and Beyond! This was a major accomplishment for the company as it showcased its ability to scale and reach a new audience. With the business thriving, and Ohh! Foods’ name was starting to become a household name for adults and parents whose kids struggled with allergies, just like me. The company’s commitment to quality, accessibility, and innovation helped establish a strong name and gain the trust of new customers.
2020: The Big Challenge
And then the world was shaken by a pandemic. The majority of small businesses had to close their retail stores and in-person shopping became a thing of the past. Online shopping took the world by storm. Like most businesses during this time, Ohh! Foods lost a significant number of accounts we had partnered with and the revenue that came along with it. The pandemic forced many hard-working entrepreneurs out of business after years of hard work. Itook on the pandemic with the mindset of “What Do People Need.” I realized that they needed something new, something comforting, something they could turn to when they are hungry and needed a snack that is free of allergens. I went forward and created our cookie dough line. In August 2020, we launched Ohh! Foods Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough which sold out in 3 days. After struggling to survive the pandemic, we finally knew what our customers wanted, and we delivered! One month later, Ohh! Foods’ Birthday cakeCookie Dough took to the market and was another fan favorite! Following shortly after in its footsteps was the Sunflower Butter Cup Cookie Dough – also known as peanut butter cookie dough’s cousin, but it tastes better and is vegan, gluten-free, and allergen-friendly!
Ohh! Foods is an innovative and rapidly growing company that is taking on the challenge of providing allergen-friendly, vegan, and gluten-free products in a crowded and competitive market. One of the main challenges the company is facing is maintaining low unit economics while still providing value to consumers and engaging in promotional activities at the retail level. Despite being a smaller brand, we have been working on this issue for several years and continue to do so as we expand.
To achieve success in this arena, we had to put a strong emphasis on ensuring that the pricing strategy made sense and was conducive to a long term growth of the company. To that end, we hired a fractional CFO who has been instrumental in negotiating rates with co-manufacturers, creating a long-term financial vision for the company, and planning for future capital requirements. These efforts have resulted in a more sustainable and scalable business model for Ohh! Foods.
Right Where We Belong
Ohh! Foods’ launch into the US market is one of the exciting opportunities on the horizon. We are looking to connect with retailers, brokers, distributors, and brands already established in the US market. My vision is to become a global leader in allergen-friendly, vegan, and gluten-free products, and entering the US market is a key step in realizing this goal. We will also continue to further expand in Canada.
In addition to expanding our reach, we are also focused on developing new products and improving existing ones. We are constantly looking for ways to innovate and differentiate ourselves from competitors. Whether it’s through the use of new ingredients, packaging, or marketing strategies, Ohh! Foods is determined to stay ahead of the curve.
In conclusion, Ohh! Foods is a company that was founded with a heartfelt mission to make a difference in the lives of those who struggle with food allergies. With a clear mission and commitment to providing consumers with allergy-friendly, vegan, and gluten-free products, Ohh! Foods is more than just a business, it is a symbol of hard work, resilience, and hope. The focus on a final goal, innovation, and growth, represents the creation of a positive change in the world for those with food restrictions.
My advice to others in business is to take the leap of faith and pursue their dreams, no matter how far away they seem. I believe that everyone has the potential to bring value to the world and that by taking action, working hard, and learning from our mistakes, we can make a difference. I always encourage others to “ JUST DO IT” and not to let fear or doubt hold them back. The key to success is to start to focus on improvement day by day. With my inspiring story and relentless pursuit of excellence, Ohh! Foods is a shining example of what can be achieved when we follow our passions and work hard to make a difference in the world.
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