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Interview: Marleen Basart, Co-Founder of BitesWeLove

BitesWeLove helps you snack healthier with tasty bites you feel good about eating. They only use the best plant-based ingredients, like nuts, peas and beans- and keep fats, sugar and salt in check too. We caught up with co-founder Marleen Basart to hear about her journey from Category Manager to owning a vegan snack brand.

Can you tell us about your brand in five words?

Healthy & tasty feel-good snacking!

What were you doing before you got into THE vegan snacking market?

After university, I started working as a category manager at one of the largest supermarkets in the Netherlands. I was in charge of the healthy and savoury snacking category. I always dreamt of being an entrepreneur, so after a few years, I quit my job and started BitesWeLove.

We launched our business about 5 years ago as a subscription service for healthy snacks, after which we started developing our own products. We started out with various nut mixes to which we added dried fruit, beans and chocolate.

Two years ago, we launched our Crunchy Peas, and they have by far been our biggest success, selling in all major retailers in The Netherlands. Our products are available at all larger business caterers, railway and petrol stations, various OOH outlets, all major supermarkets and e-commerce players.

What made you choose the UK to trial BitesWeLove?

Liesbeth, my business partner and I would always go to trade shows in London Excel. And every time we would say; if we make it here, we can make it everywhere! The UK market is very large in terms of market size, but also snacking is really a part of the British culture (much more than it is in the Netherlands.). It is also a very competitive market, but we have invested heavily in product development, making sure our products are non-HFSS (or Nutri-Score A, which we use in the Netherlands) but still super tasty. We believe this combination of taste & health is unique and a true differentiator also in the UK market.

Which of your flavours are the most popular?

Our Smoked Paprika is our most popular flavour, but our newest Sour Cream & Jalapeño is catching up. I find it almost hard to believe that we managed to get it this full of flavour while making sure it is non-HFSS/ 60% less fat than comparable savoury snacks and completely vegan. It has the perfect combination of crunch, tanginess, savouriness and spiciness.

Will you be bringing out any new products or flavours?

Absolutely! We're constantly working on new product development. We are actually launching Chocolate coated crunchy peas in September and a whole new range of crunchy veggie mixes in very exciting flavours like Nacho Cheese, Sweet BBQ and Sriracha. All non-HFSS and vegan.

Do you have any tips for someone dreaming of launching their own food brand?

Get the product right. Make sure it is super tasty. That is always number one. Find yourself the right customer, a true partner, to launch your brand and products with. And make sure you solve a true problem for your consumer and customers/partners.

What has been the biggest challenge launching a snack brand?

Getting on the shelf at the national supermarket/multiples is an important step in launching a food brand, But the real challenge is making sure you build a loyal customer base and reach a good rate of sales. You generally don’t have the financial resources large multinationals have, so you need to find a retail partner who is willing to support you and believes in your brand and mission. Because you need time to build your brand, visibility in-store, promotional support and shelf space. The right partner is willing to help you in achieving this.

We just launched at Sainsbury’s at their Taste of the Future bay, which has been an incredibly soft and pleasant landing in the UK. They are extremely supportive, give us insight into sales data and really help grow your business.

Who inspires you?

There are several amazing Dutch brands that have built an incredible business and have an amazing impact beyond our small countries borders. Think of Naïf, Tony’s Chocolonely, Ace&Tate, Dopper and Van Moof. They are all strong brands, challenging the status quo within their category and led by great entrepreneurs.

BitesWeLove have now launched the UK in three tasty flavours: Sea Salt & Black Pepper, Smoked Paprika and Sour Cream & Jalapeño. Find them in selected Sainsbury’s stores nationwide:


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