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New Zealand’s Raglan Food Co is an example of success without sacrificing principles

14 Jun 2021

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Raglan Food Co. Image Photo: Raglan Food Co.

Started in 2015 by couple Latesha Randall​ and Sebastian Walter, Raglan Food Co is currently New Zealand’s largest dairy-free yogurt company. Walter and Randall, who like to call themselves Mr. and Mrs. Coconut respectively, however, didn’t actually set out to start a business.

“I was just making coconut yogurt at home to help with Seb’s dairy allergies. We wanted to eat a dairy-free diet but didn't want to give up yogurt as we both love it, so I found an alternative option. I offered a couple of jars to the Raglan locals to buy and had huge demand, and it just grew organically from there with more and more people asking for it,” Randall tells abillion.

The organic growth has been astounding. While the couple started Raglan Food Co out of their garage back in 2015, it is now sold in over 600 stores across New Zealand, as well as in Singapore, Hong Kong and China. This success, however, did not come without its fair share of challenges. Scaling to meet demand was one of the biggest hurdles Randall and Walter had to overcome. “Maintaining consistency is the biggest challenge,” explains Randall. “Coconut yogurt is a very delicate product with multiple factors that can affect it—temperature, pH, fermentation length etc—so we have spent a lot of time learning about all the intricacies of yogurt making in order to create consistently delicious yogurt.”

Raglan Food Co Founders Photo: Raglan Food Co.

Raglan was actually founded as the Raglan Coconut Yoghurt company. “We changed our name from Raglan Coconut Yoghurt to Raglan Food Co back in 2020, so that we are not restricted to purely making yogurt,” Randall tells us. “We recently launched Probiotic Drinking Kefir, a plant-based yoghurty smoothie, which has already won a couple of awards here in New Zealand.”

Today, Raglan offers 9 flavors of yogurt and 4 varieties of kefir. In November last year, they opened a new factory that can produce 12 tonnes of coconut yogurt daily, which amounts to 25,000 jars being shipped out every week.

Raglan Food Co has won several awards including the 2015 NZ Gourmet Food Award and abillion’s Top 20 Vegan Yogurt awards 2019.

abillion’s members love their products. abillion member @hengguanhou has this to say about their organic blueberry yogurt, “This is my 3rd jar within a month. All those who try it only sing praises. It is the only brand of vegan yoghurt that win my heart and stomach. Not to mention my soul!”

As Raglan has succeeded, it has been important for Randall and Walter to stay true to themselves, to keep learning and to keep on the mission. The company isn’t just a way for the couple to earn a living but to give something back to the world. They have identified three Sustainable Development Goals, from the United Nations 17 goals for a sustainable future, that they feel align with their business: Ensure Healthy Lives and Promote Well-being For All, at All Ages; Promote Inclusive and Sustainable Economic Growth, Employment and Decent Work For All; and Take Urgent Action to Combat Climate Change and its Impacts. Raglan has made some impressive strides to achieve these goals. Among other things, they are the first Carbon Zero certified yogurt company in New Zealand, they have impressively capped the salary of their highest paid employee at three times that of their lowest, and they have instituted a profit sharing program for their team.

To date, Raglan Food Co has contributed over $33,000 to good causes and has donated over 41,909 jars of yogurt to charities. They have planted over 2,143 trees through Million Metres, and their '1 Million Pieces' project has seen around 580,061 pieces of plastic removed from beaches around New Zealand.

Raglan Food Greek Yogurt Photo: @jaeliew.

Randall puts it simply, “You learn everything you need to know along the way. Stay true to your values, and use your business as a force for good - in all aspects.”

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