BRAZILIAN BREAD EXPANDS
When the pandemic hit, it didn't deter Alessandra and Emerson. Having developed their delicious, gluten-free Brazilian cheese bread - they adapted their marketing and services. Then, with a business grant from Watford Borough Council, they invested in a fabulous new walk-in freezer to support the rapid growth of their company.
Emerson and Alessandra established their business Conrad Foods in 2017. Originally from Brazil, with a degree in Economics, Emerson detected a gap in the UK food market. “I wanted to bring something unique to the UK market,” he says. “I have a gluten intolerance, and I could see the gluten free market was expanding."
So, they adapted an old Brazilian favourite, Pão de Queijo or “cheese bread”. This is a kind of dough ball made with cassava flour and cheese. Usually served hot with a melted cheese core, they’re a deliciously satisfying little snack. The couple named the product Mary & Bella Cheese Breads after their two daughters.
But, when the pandemic hit in early 2020, it put dents in their plans for growth. “Our main customers are restaurants and coffee shops,” says Emerson. “When all of those places closed overnight it was very challenging for us.”
They started advertising more on social media and established a delivery service. The couple also found an unexpected charitable use for their product, donating it to the One Vision project which delivered over 150 meals a day to elderly and vulnerable people during lockdown.
While lockdown continued to present many challenges, Conrad Foods found support in the form of the Watford Business Growth Grant, a grant programme from Watford Borough Council, delivered by the Hertfordshire Growth Hub, which provides financial assistance and expert business advice to small businesses in Watford.
Alessandra and Emerson, warming to their new, walk-in freezer
This ground-breaking programme has provided 245 businesses with intensive one-to-one advice and distributed grant funding of £440,000 to help businesses in Watford grow.
Don't miss out
Emerson and Alessandra knew exactly what they needed from the grant: their one walk-in freezer was quickly becoming too small to hold all their orders. With £5,000 in grant funding from the Watford Business Growth Grant, the couple were able to hire a second, much larger freezer.
“The application process was very professional,” Emerson says of the experience. “When council funding is available, you just have to demonstrate that you have a strategy or something solid to spend it on.
With the new capacity to increase their orders dramatically, Conrad Foods have some exciting plans for the future, which include introducing new recipes and taking part in two major exhibitions this year.
"Don’t miss out on the opportunity," says Emerson. "If you don’t apply you will never know what you might achieve."
For information on grants and business support available to Watford businesses, click here.