Interview - Michael Bergin - Sidekick Smoothies
Smoothies are increasingly popular but they can be messy, ingredients can be expensive and it can be difficult to ensure consistent results. Michael Bergin, the owner of Sidekick Smoothies has changed all that. Read how this product is changing the way smoothies are produced in cafes.
FFW: How did Sidekick Smoothies come about?
SIDEKICK SMOOTHIES: The idea for the business came about in 2016 when I was sitting at a Melbourne cafe with a school friend of mine and we were served smoothies that didn’t taste very good. They were made of milk, yoghurt and only a small amount of real fruit. We thought to ourselves that we could make a better tasting smoothie and one that was more nutritious. That was the beginning of Sidekick Smoothies, created with the mission to make smoothies healthier and more accessible to everyone. As for the name, we want our smoothies to be your very own healthy sidekick.
FFW: Did you guys have any experience in developing food products?
SIDEKICK SMOOTHIES: I had no experience in developing food products; I didn’t even have smoothies all that often! Previous to this, I was working as a tunnel engineer, so it was a steep learning curve. I immersed myself into the world of food manufacturing and food service and learnt a lot in a short period of time - if you are passionate and only accept the highest standards, it shows in your products.
FFW: What kind of technology have you used to create your products?
SIDEKICK SMOOTHIES: We use a number of specialised machines and equipment to manufacture our products. As our products were quite new to the market, there was no existing technology or equipment that we could use to manufacture our products. We had to customise and develop new methods in order to create our products.
FFW: What is the best thing about Sidekick Smoothies, that stands them apart from other healthy food/beverage solutions?
SIDEKICK SMOOTHIES: A number of things separate us from other products, in particular:
- We manufacture in Melbourne, use Australian fruit and are Australian owned. Most products aren’t manufactured in Australia and only use fruit from overseas. Our customers prefer the taste of Australian fruit and appreciate that we source from local Aussie food producers.
- Our packs contain only whole ingredients and contain no preservatives, added sugars or artificial ingredients. Our smoothie packs are made with only 100% whole and natural ingredients, such as fruit, nuts, seeds and superfoods. Our products aren’t pre-blended either; rather, they are blended in store which means that the smoothies are always at their freshest.
- Our smoothie packs can be used to make a smoothie in less than 45 seconds! Making a smoothie can take up to 3 minutes if doing it by yourself, and it’s difficult to make it consistent every time and keep track of all the ingredients you need. Our smoothie packs are pre-portioned, take up little space in the freezer and can be made in less than 45 seconds.
- Taste … but that’s for you to judge ;)
FFW: Are they supplied chilled or frozen?
SIDEKICK SMOOTHIES: Our smoothie packs are frozen. Freezing helps retain the nutritional benefits of the ingredients and gives the smoothie a nice consistency when blended.
FFW: Do they require refrigeration?
SIDEKICK SMOOTHIES: Yes, our products are to be kept frozen (at or below -18 degrees Celsius).
FFW: Do they need to be thawed before using?
SIDEKICK SMOOTHIES: No, the packs are to be blended from frozen, with only liquid to be added.
FFW: Are they gluten free?
SIDEKICK SMOOTHIES: Most of our range is gluten free. All of our smoothies are vegan and have no added sugars.
FFW: Can the smoothies be made using dairy-free milks?
SIDEKICK SMOOTHIES: Absolutely! Our smoothies can be made with almost any liquid, such as almond milk, coconut water, soy milk, regular milk, water or juice.
FFW: What kind of ingredients do you use?
SIDEKICK SMOOTHIES: We use nutrient-rich ingredients that are high in vitamins and minerals and low in sugar. All of our ingredients are 100% natural.
FFW: How are cafes and other hospitality businesses offering them to their customers?
SIDEKICK SMOOTHIES: Cafes use our smoothie packs to make superfood smoothies and also smoothie and acai bowls. Acai bowls can be made by using a little less liquid which makes it a bit thicker, and garnishing with fresh fruits and granola.
FFW: Aside from being novel and innovative, what other benefits are there for foodservice businesses?
SIDEKICK SMOOTHIES: Our smoothie packs are great for cafes with limited freezer space as they are very compact and have 10 units per carton. Our smoothie packs are a great way for cafes to promote a healthy and nutritious menu item. The smoothies can be made in less than 45 seconds, with no staff training, preparation or mess!
FFW: What kind of profit margin do the smoothie bases offer?
SIDEKICK SMOOTHIES: Our smoothies offer gross profit margins of $4-6 per smoothie, and $5-8 for smoothie bowls.
FFW: How can retailers promote Sidekick Smoothies to their customers?
SIDEKICK SMOOTHIES: We have a range of marketing materials retailers can use to help promote the products to their customers, including high quality point-of-sale stands, posters, table stands and branded smoothie cups.
FFW: Who would be a dream brand ambassador for Sidekick Smoothies?
SIDEKICK SMOOTHIES: Anyone living a healthy and active lifestyle would be a great ambassador for us, perhaps Michelle Bridges or Kayla Itsines.
FFW: Do you have any other flavours in development?
SIDEKICK SMOOTHIES: We do have a couple of limited-edition flavours in development for summer and we are working on an organic smoothie range. Watch this space!