In 1990, the healthy alternative snack Vege Chips was born. The vegetarian founder of Vege Chips began making a chip that held more nutritional value than an average potato chip. Starting in his kitchen, then moving to a garage and eventually taking over bigger premises, Vege Chips sold well for many years at the local beachfront markets.
Vege Chips leapt from local market stands onto supermarket shelves about 15 years ago, securing a place with the major supermarket chains through the help of a retail broker, CTD, taking the brand national and significantly expanding production.
This year, the Currumbin company is celebrating 25 years. In that time they have never deviated from their core product – which is vegetarian, Gluten free, dairy-free, low in fat, and free from additives.
The company employs 30 staff, with all the products made here in the Currumbin industrial estate. The site is also completely vegetarian, with no animal or dairy products brought on site.
They were the first mainstream chip cooked in Sunflower oil – rather than Palm oil, which was common place in the earlier days – and despite now seeing a trend towards gluten free foods and gluten free diets, Vege Chips were the first snack food company in Australia to launch gluten free chips.
“We’ve been gluten free from day one, and we’ve proudly displayed that fact from day one – so in that time we’ve built an incredibly loyal customer base of coeliacs, vegans, and vegetarians who have been with us from the start,” says Owen Cooley, the General Manager.
“The company has very strong roots in the vegetarian community – it wasn’t started to fit in with a trend or marketing angle.”
That loyalty has paid off, with Vege Chips now being the number one proprietary brand in both the Woolworths and Coles health food isle. “The business grew considerably when we went from the snack isle to the health food isle,” says Owen.
It’s estimated only 36% of shoppers go down the health food isle. However in the last five years, that figure has grown – up from 20% - and with the number of health conscious shoppers on the rise, there are more promising signs of this market increasing in the future.
After 25 years, while the product stays true to its core roots as the original vegetarian chip, they have expanded their flavour range with ‘Chicken Style’ (still 100% vegetarian, made with herbs and soy) to complement their traditional flavours. They’re also moving into superfoods with a Deli Crisp range on the way. Soon, ingredients like quinoa, chia and turmeric will find their way into the Vege Chip range.
Over the years, Vege Chips has only made slight modifications and modernisations to their logo and packaging. “The branding and packaging evolves, but we keep it fairly consistent.”
It’s one of the few iconic Australian brands available in our supermarkets – and all home grown here in Currumbin.
To find out more about Vege Chips or make contact, visit www.vegechips.com