Episode 6: UK & Ireland team

In the sixth episode of this interview series, we interview part of the team working on establishing Gold&Green products in the UK and Ireland. Brendan has been working in the food sector for almost 20 years, and since the beginning of this year, has focused on getting Gold&Green® products into manufacturers across all industries. Eimear is our sales manager in Ireland and has been working at Paulig for more than ten years. Simon has been in the food industry for more than 30 years, and now works for Gold&Green in retail and food service.

The team tells us about the benefits and challenges of working with unique products like Pulled Oats® and the newly launched Gold&Green® Protein Ingredients. “Gold&Green is leading the way in sustainability in its segment. But maybe the market still has to catch up a little bit.”

“We hope the focus will shift more to the sustainability and health of products.”

Let’s start with a light but essential question. What is your favourite recipe with Pulled Oats?

Eimear: “The great thing about Pulled Oats is that it has a neutral taste. Therefore, you can use it in many cuisines, for example Indian, Mexican, Thai and Nordic. My favourite cuisine for using Pulled Oats is Asian. Making a simple salad or filling bao buns with Pulled Oats is already amazing.”

Brendan shares his favourite dish as well: “I would go with pizza with Pulled Oats. And the quesadillas that our development chef makes are delicious as well.”

Simon likes the versatility of the product. “A great thing about Pulled Oats is that you can be as creative as you want to be. We gave our designer a bag of Pulled Oats, and he produced an amazing Pulled Oat wellington. It looked amazing. You don’t just use Pulled Oats as a mince substitute, but you can create so much with it.”

All of you have a lot of experience in food service. What makes Gold&Green stand out from other companies?

Brendan shares: “The thing that drew me to Gold&Green is the fact that the plant-based market is booming. There is so much going on. Gold&Green products stand out because they’re not only good products because they are plant-based, but they are produced for all the right reasons. The company is sustainable, and the ethics behind it are fantastic as well.”

Eimear agrees: “Gold&Green is slightly ahead of their time in what they are doing. They are leading the way in the sustainability and the unique composition of the products. Maybe the market even has to catch up a little bit. We’re also one of the few companies that are leading with oat protein, which makes it very unique. Another reason for why we stand out, is the fact that we are not just a meat substitute company, but also a protein company. With the new Protein Ingredients, Gold&Green has expanded beyond the meat substitute category and is now helping food manufacturers meet the growing demand for plant-based foods, both in savoury and sweet applications.”

Gold&Green is indeed quite unique in working with oat products. Which benefits but maybe also challenges does this bring?

Simon tells us that oats are very popular in the UK. “We eat oats a lot, whether it’s hot or cold porridge or oat milk. Oat products are becoming more popular every day. A restaurant I was at recently only served oat milk, coconut milk and almond milk. The waitress told me that oat milk was by far the most popular option. That made me very happy! The good thing about oats is that everyone knows it. It’s not a scary product.”

Brendan adds: “People know that oats are clean, healthy and make you feel full longer.” He does, however also see a challenge in working with oats. “People understand that a mushroom can become a burger, but since they know oats mainly as their porridge, they can’t see how that could become a tasty meat substitute. We hope that in the future, oats will be seen as a good basis for more products than just porridge and plant-based milk.”

What are the trends you see in foodservice regarding plant-based foods?

Recently, the team went to Plant Based World, a B2B conference and expo.Eimear shares some observations: “We noticed that the focus is very much on the taste of the product. A lot of people don’t really think about what it’s made of, but care more about what it tastes and looks like and what you can do with it. That’s a shame because what makes Pulled Oats and Protein Ingredients so special are their clean, healthy ingredients. We hope the focus will shift more to this in the future.”

Simon also sees the advantages that the focus on taste brings. “Vegan products are very advanced these days. Serving vegan products based on vegetables is not good enough anymore. One of our customers exhibited at Plant Based World, and he served a vegan pork pie. Pork pie is a typical English product, it’s a round pie with sausage meat in the middle, pastry around it and jelly in the top. The chef had made a version with Pulled Oats inside, and the taste was just amazing. This is a great example of the high standard of vegan meals and how Pulled Oats lives up to that.”

What are your hopes and dreams for the future of Gold&Green in the UK?

Brendan: “My dream is to get more awareness for Gold&Green products, especially the new Protein Ingredients. It is great to have Pulled Oats being used in foodservice already, but the icing on the cake would be to have the Gold&Green name on the product as well. For example, as co-branding with a major pizza brand. In foodservice, there is a need for sustainable products, and Gold&Green can really give them an offer they can’t refuse!”

Simon shares his dream for the future as well: “The UK market is very price conscious, and I really hope that we can be able to change that mindset. The recent development of sustainable brands in the food market has made people realize that we are undervaluing our food sources and we need to choose healthier and cleaner products. With Pulled Oats and Protein Ingredients, people don’t have to compromise on nutrition, sustainability or taste.”

Eimear also looks ahead: “My dream is that we can start producing Pulled Oats in Ireland, using Irish oats. If we could start working with local suppliers, we could make sure the main ingredient in the product is from the island itself. That would be the dream!”

INTERVIEWEES: UK & IRELAND TEAM GOLD&GREEN

Brendan Lee

  • National account manager Gold&Green UK
  • Favourite Pulled Oats dish: pizza
  • Loves working for Gold&Green because of its sustainability and ethics

Eimear Owens

  • National sales manager Ireland
  • Loves using Pulled Oats in Asian cuisine
  • Dreams of producing Pulled Oats of Irish oats

Simon Solway

  • Country manager retail & OOH UK & Ireland
  • Makes great Pulled Oats lasagnes at home
  • Wishes to change the mindset about sustainability in the food market

5 DILEMMAS, 1 TEAM. WHAT DO THEY CHOOSE?

Pulled Oats or Protein Ingredients?

All three of them choose the Protein Ingredients, because of the versatility of the product. Eimear: “If I would go to a desert island I would bring Protein Flakes!”

Vegan or flexitarian?

They all choose flexitarian. Brendan: “I’m from Ireland, so butter is very important to me.” Simon has a similar reason: “Cheese is such a beautiful product, I’m not sure I could be vegan just because of cheese.”

Sun or snow?

Simon likes the snow, but Brendan and Eimear choose sun. “We’re from Ireland, so definitely sun! No more explanation needed.”

Gold or green?

The men go for gold. Eimear: “Of course I have to choose Irish green.”

Healthy or tasty?

Brendan and Eimear choose healthy. Simon: “I’ll go for tasty. If it’s not good for me, I’ll just eat a little of it!”