Waterford SME ‘Chia bia’ announce €70,000 Investment

As part of the company’s ongoing expansion, Waterford-based Health Food Company Chia bia, Ireland’s largest supplier of Chia seeds, has announced a €70,000 investment in new equipment. Funding for a new milling machine was supported by Waterford Leader Partnership and Linked Finance with the remainder self-funded by Chia bia. Minister for Small Business John Perry and Claire Connors of Waterford Leader Partnership recently attended an on-site visit to the Chia bia premises in Tramore, Co Waterford to celebrate this new phase of development.

The investment will simplify their current business model and greatly reduce the company’s carbon footprint. Since the company’s foundation in 2009, Chia bia has taken the health food market by storm with demand for its product range doubling year on year. Chia bia now employs a team of nine people and last year received a prestigious ‘Best Exporter’ award at the National Enterprise Awards.

“This is an important milestone for Chia bia and it will have a positive impact on our business processes as well as providing economic benefits. We are grateful to both Waterford Leader Partnership and Linked Finance who supported funding for our new milling machine. Having alternative financial support options in place is fundamental as it helps small business to fulfil their potential and create employment” said Barrie Rogers, co-founder of Chia bia with Ray Owens.

Since launching in 100 health stores in February 2010, Chia bia now supplies to over 2,000 outlets across the UK and Ireland. The company recently signed a new distribution deal which will see its range of products listed in Tesco’s 142 stores across Ireland. In the UK, Chia bia is available from Selfridges, Holland & Barrett and is listed with all major health food distributors and an increasing number of independent health food stores.

“We are very excited for what the future holds for Chia bia and this will be a crucial element to creating further growth in our company. We are investing in product development which will see us introduce a new range of gluten-free cookies in March 2014. Our markets are ever growing and we are rapidly progressing our shares in Northern Europe and Canada. By 2016, we hope to be trading in at least eight international markets” said Barrie.

Chia bia was established by Irish entrepreneurs Ray Owens and Barrie Rogers in 2009. Barrie, formerly a financial consultant, was inspired to found the business having experienced first-hand the health benefits of seeds while recovering from a back injury. He joined with Ray who had a background in production and sales in the food industry. Chia bia supplies seven unique products including organic nutrient bars and bags of whole and milled Chia seeds. Health benefits include increased energy levels, improved concentration, reduced cholesterol and healthy digestion.