Interview - Tintin Sealey - Cocofrio
Consumer demand for fructose friendly, gluten free and dairy free desserts is on the rise and one company is responding with enthusiasm. We spoke with Tintin Sealey, Founder of Cocofrio and discovered a delectable ice cream alternative that checks all the boxes for customers with a range of food intolerances or simply seeking a healthier product.
FFW: How did the genius that is Cocofrio come about? What inspired it?
COCOFRIO: Cocofrio was established when I first discovered the benefits of coconuts through my passion for healthy living and healthy eating. Surrounded by family and friends with dairy and gluten sensitivities, I searched the supermarkets unsuccessfully for healthy alternative frozen desserts that were pure, tasty, natural and certified organic. This led me to develop a dessert that could deliver all the benefits and none of the disadvantages of so many other products. My husband Paul and I head a team of innovative organic food technologists, manufacturers and natural health food distributors. We source, blend and manufacture the purest ingredients for Cocofrio’s ice cream from fully certified organic suppliers and growers around the world and in Australia. Cocofrio products are Australian, made in Melbourne.
FFW: What are the health benefits of Cocofrio?
COCOFRIO: Our ice cream is dairy free and gluten free, to cater for those who are lactose and/or gluten intolerant and for those looking to exclude dairy and/or gluten from their diet. Cocofrio is also fructose friendly with the sweeteners used being brown rice syrup and a small amount of stevia. This is particularly important for those looking to exclude processed sugar from their diet and those who are fructose intolerant. In addition, our entire range is certified organic by ACO and all flavours (except for Caramel Honey Macadamia) are vegan friendly.
FFW: Do you think most people buy it because of the health benefits or do the flavours stand on their own merits as well?
COCOFRIO: Initially customers are attracted to Cocofrio because of the health benefits, however once a customer tastes the ice cream, regardless if they are searching for a healthy ice cream or not, the feedback is extremely positive. Our flavours also attract the attention of customers and we have developed a range of 10 flavours with the majority very different to other ice cream brands in the market place. We don’t only want to offer a point of difference through health benefits but also delicious and different flavours.
FFW: What are the quality virtues of your ice cream?
COCOFRIO: Our ice cream is Certified Organic by ACO and contains all natural ingredients. There are no additives and it is manufactured in a HCCAP certified facility. Therefore, retailers and customers have confidence in our product as we undertake strict audit processes with regular reviews and audits from certifying bodies.
FFW: What’s the difference between the mouth feel of Cocofrio and regular ice cream?
COCOFRIO: Our ice cream is not overpowering. It is creamy, light and clean with the perfect level of sweetness.
FFW: Can Cocofrio be used in recipes such as smoothies and other beverages?
COCOFRIO: Yes it can. In fact we have many food service customers who use our ice cream to make smoothies, iced coffees and desserts for their customers. Our product provides the ability to include a healthy dessert or drink on their menus and also the ability to cater for those with intolerances. We also supply our ice cream to a number of chefs and some that include Cocofrio as an ingredient in their cook books.
FFW: How do you make it easy for clients to do business with you?
COCOFRIO: We have a nationwide distribution network that also caters for clients in regional areas. State-wide distributors manage sales, orders and delivery direct to stores and food service outlets. Stock is always on hand and available to fill orders as we undertake frequent manufacturing runs.
FFW: How did you come up with the amazing flavours? Vanilla, Sticky Date & Pecan sounds glorious!
COCOFRIO: We have experimented with many different flavours and most importantly trialled them with our customers. We received and gathered valuable feedback from a broad sample group. Sampling for the public took place at trade shows and through demonstrations we organised. We also wanted to ensure our flavours were different to other brands to offer customers more options.
FFW: What kinds of businesses would you like to speak to through this interview regarding serving Cocofrio to their customers and why?
COCOFRIO: We would like to speak with businesses looking to offer their customers a healthy alternative and that are looking to take advantage of the increasing consumer desire for health foods and certified organic products. Businesses include food retailers, cafés, restaurants, superfood bars, juice bars and event organisers (food events, sports events, festivals, etc.) looking for a different and healthy product to be offered.
FFW: What is Cocofrio’s fat content and what kind of fats are in it?
COCOFRIO: We use coconut milk to produce our ice cream. The type of saturated fats in coconut milk are Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFAs) and are directly utilised as a source of instant energy by your body and therefore function in the same way as simple carbohydrates. Although both provide energy to your body they differ in one crucial respect. The saturated fats in coconut milk do not cause an insulin spike in your bloodstream. In fact, it acts for your body like a carbohydrate without any of the debilitating insulin related effects associated with long term carbohydrate consumption. Naturally occurring saturated fats are not to be feared as they are in fact good fats and your body needs them as a source of energy to function in everyday life and to perform simple tasks such as walking, talking and eating. The fat content differs with each flavour. For all the nutritional information on each flavour you can visit our website.
FFW: Why is fructose considered such a problem these days that products are being introduced boasting ‘fructose friendly’ on their labels?
COCOFRIO: Sugar (sucrose) consist of two simple sugars, glucose and fructose. Every cell in the body can use glucose but the liver is the only organ that can metabolise fructose in significant amounts. When people eat a diet that is high in fructose the liver gets overloaded and starts turning the fructose into fat. As a result many scientists and medical professionals believe excess fructose consumption may be a key driver of many of the most serious diseases of today, including obesity, type II diabetes and heart disease.
FFW: Do you offer bulk quantities for foodservice customers?
COCOFRIO: For most foodservice customers we provide our ice cream in 5 litre trays as opposed to the 500ml tubs that retailers order.
FFW: How do you help your retailers promote your products for optimal sales?
COCOFRIO: We provide point of sale material (posters, freezer stickers, etc.), direct customers through our website (stockists page) to the stores stocking Cocofrio, advertise stores and food service outlets through our social media pages and also help drive sales and awareness through demonstrations, participation at many food events (trade shows and food festivals) and we undertake a very active marketing and PR campaign with product recognition and feature stories through magazines such as Delicious, Australian Natural Health, Women’s Health & Fitness, Nourish, Yum Gluten Free, etc.
FFW: How should retailers position Cocofrio in store?
COCOFRIO: Cocofrio is a gourmet premium ice cream with a range of upmarket flavours. It appeals to all consumers of ice cream whilst catering for those with intolerances and those searching for a healthy alternative.
FFW: What’s your favourite flavour and how do you enjoy it best?
COCOFRIO: It’s a hard choice. I equally like Vanilla Sticky Date & Pecan and also Salted Caramel. I am happy eating them straight from the tub or serving them on gluten free protein pancakes. I also use them to make healthy creamy smoothies.
FFW: Are you working on any other amazing flavours at the moment?
COCOFRIO: We are currently working on a Chocoholic flavour and a refreshing Green Tea flavour.
FFW: What other brands or products in the marketplace excite you?
COCOFRIO: Pure Harvest Organic Almond Milk has the purest ingredients with no additions or stabilisers plus they use rice syrup as a sweetener, as does Cocofrio. I use this to make my creamy smoothies and enjoy it in my coffee.
Cold Press Coconut Oil is also something I am excited about as it is a very versatile product and good for your wellbeing. I use it regularly in cooking, adding a teaspoon to my coffee or simply just to remove my makeup and moisturise my hair.