This week’s Ambassador Feature is with Hayley Blieden, The Australian Superfood Co.
2017 Rising Star AusMumpreneur Gold winner
Tell us about yourself and your business?
I’m the Founder and Managing Director of The Australian Superfood Co (TASC). We create snack foods, fruit powders, herbs, spices and granola made from native Australian bushfood. Our ingredients are made from these superfoods which are rich in nutritional qualities and have sustained indigenous communities for over 60,000 years. We sell our products in 500 stores across Australia, online and we also supply foodservice and food and beverage manufacturers.
What was your inspiration for your business?
I am an Accredited Practicing Dietitian and Nutritionist who had always been driven to create new foods that may enhance people’s wellbeing and performance. My idea for TASC came when I was working with professional athletes who used imported superfoods to gain an edge through their nutrition. I saw the need for nutritionally dense foods and the influx of imported superfoods. This made me wonder, what are we missing? What are the ancient superfoods of Australia? What sustsined indigenous Australians for over 60,000 years in some of the harshest climates?
I researched Australian superfoods and travelled to remote indigenous communities in the Northern Territory to discover native bush food and the delicious nutritional secrets it held. I set out to learn about its nutritional content and farming practices and began to develop products that celebrate age-old Aboriginal wisdom.
Did you have any experience in running a business or in this industry before?
The Australian Superfood Co launched three years ago in 2015. The research and development commenced in 2012. Prior to this I worked as a dietitian for the North Melbourne Football Club and General Manager at Shotz Sports Nutrition. I have also completed a Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietitics and Masters of Business Administration.
What’s your point of difference that makes your business special or unique?
We’re one of the only commercial brands that harness and promote Australian native superfoods. The buzz around nutrition has until now centred on overseas superfoods but public awareness is beginning to shift towards the wealth of nutritional benefits to be found in our own backyard. Our company is spearheading this change, through our retail products and also through the use of our ingredients by chefs to celebrate the wonderful flavours of native Aussie ingredients.
A large part of our work in spreading awareness about Australian bushfood is our support of the people who discovered it and harvest it in the first place. Our relationship with indigenous communities in Australia goes far beyond a commercial partnership. Not only do we create more employment by purchasing ingredients directly through Indigenous Communities, but we give back to the communities in other ways. Last year for instance we established a relationship with Red Dust, an organisation that advocates health and education within Indigenous communities.
What have you learnt about yourself since becoming an entrepreneur?
I’ve discovered how much I enjoy challenging my own limits. I have a very clear goal to make these ingredients a common part of the Australian people’s diet and I am constantly discovering new ways to make this happen, no matter how challenging. I’ve learnt to look at each doubt, or hesitation as just another stepping stone to this amazing shift we’re creating in people’s lives.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced and how have you overcome them?
Mainly it’s the uniqueness of the product we’re selling. Our ingredients are not a common fixture on supermarket shelves here and much of the buzz still surrounds foreign superfoods. Because most Australians are not familiar with our flavours it’s been quite a challenge to get them to accept and welcome them into their daily diet. We needed to find a way to make the ingredients more accessible so we decided to make raw bars and granolas. This way we can incorporate the ingredients into something the consumer would usually buy and consume regularly, instead of presenting them with an ingredient by itself that they wouldn’t know how to use.
What lessons have your business taught you about life?
Mainly it’s taught me how to achieve a sustainable work-life balance. Being a working mum can seem really daunting at times but I’m lucky my business allows me to focus on the important things, like my own health and the wellbeing of my family. Along the way I’ve acquired some important tools that help me communicate and problem solve, skills I take with me when I leave the office each day.
If you could go back to when you were starting your business and give your younger self some advice what would you tell her?
I would definitely tell myself to be calm, but realistic. To ride the ‘business wave’ and enjoy the ups while always staying prepared for the downs because there WILL be downs. I would also advise myself to get a solid team behind me and to constantly surround myself with the right people who will help me weather any storm. Keeping this in mind, there’s also that need to be a good person myself and to maintain my own values. This encompasses how I would deal with suppliers, share knowledge and be open to the opinions of people from different walks of life.
What’s next for your business?
We’re currently working with new communities and farmers to broaden our supply chain and we’re developing new products that encourage easier use in the home kitchen. Both of these things will increase accessibility to our ingredients for the wider market, both in Australia and aborad.
If you could change the world, and money was no object, what would you do?
Being in the food industry I would love to do something to ensure that the entire world’s population was fed properly. It’s upsetting that close to a billion people go to sleep hungry every night when the world produces 17% more food per person today than 30 years ago. I guess I’d start at the root of the problem, which isn’t hunger itself, but insufficient land to grow and income to purchase. It would undoubtedly be a huge task, but I’d get the right leaders and organisations on board and make it a collaborative effort!
To learn more about Hayley and The Australian Superfood Co., please visit