Marcela Sancho, co-founder, House of Pops reveals her secret ingredients to a successful healthy food business
Tell us when you started, and what were the motivations behind launching the company
Food has always played a big role in my life. Ever since I was a child. I was always curious and loved experimenting with new ingredients, and recipes, and so it was just natural for me to study culinary arts. My partner, who has extensive experience in the ice cream business in the region, and I, found that there was a gap in the market for a refreshing healthy proposition. We decided to take up the challenge to fill this gap, and this is how House of Pops was created. A 100% natural fruit pops, with no preservatives, no refined sugar or food colourings. Our mission was to provide consumers an option to delight themselves guilt free.
House of Pops is a little different to most dessert/snack/treat brands, right? Can you tell us why?
We are a disruptive proposition from many angles: From the ingredients we use to our packaging, our pops are 100% natural, clean label, no E numbers, vegan, refined sugar free; we use organic agave to sweeten them. They are allergen free, so everyone can enjoy them regardless of any food intolerance. We believe healthy and natural can be tasty.
Why did you want House of Pops to be healthy?
Ice cream is always about happiness, so we wanted to provide people a better option, natural happiness. And option where you can indulge or treat yourself without any guilt. And when I talk about guilt, we are referring to the quality of the ingredients and nutritional value that we are consuming, to the packaging of our products. We are the only plastic free ice cream in the region. Our packaging is made out starch which is compostable, so there is less impact on Earth. A more holistic approach to a product.
Am I correct in understanding there’s just five ingredients?
Yes, they are a combination of only: natural fruits, water, organic agave, fresh lime Juice and vegetable fibers. We don’t add any preservatives, food colouring, or flavouring to our pops. We incorporate vegetable fibers to our recipes, as they assist us on maintaining a healthy gut function and healthy blood glucose as well as cholesterol levels. Our vegetable fibers come from chickpeas and corn, they also help give this nice texture.
Clearly, with a healthier product, you will attract more healthy consumers – have you found that to be true?
The health and wellness is a rapidly growing segment in the food industry. Specially after the pandemic , consumers gave much more importance towards healthier eating habits and the quality of products they consume. Our clientele varies in backgrounds, from the person that is taking the first step on making a healthy choice when having dessert ,a person who is lactose intolerant, to a person that as part of their lifestyle, only consumes natural products, with no refined sugar but loves ice cream. We are the solution for all these scenarios.
Why have you avoided sugars and artificial ingredients – and doesn’t this make the products more expensive?
We want to deliver to the customer the best product possible. When using only quality ingredients, there is no need to use artificial flavourings and such, as the true flavours and colours derive directly from the fruits. Definitely, there is an impact in the costing, but we believe the pops are not expensive for the quality that we offer.
There’s more than one range now, correct? Can you take us though the ranges?
We our offering 4 collections, these are:
1-Happiness Collection – 80 ml pops – We currently carry 12 flavours, among the best sellers are Mighty Mango, Fancy Chocolate, Galactic Lime and Crazy Coconut.
2-Royal Collection – 123 ml pops– 4 flavours of pops, they are a bigger in size proposition, with fruit inclusions.
3-Keto Collection – 80ml pops – This range is dedicated for the keto diet followers, which want low carbs and high fat content. We sweeten the pops with Xylitol.
4-Choco Dipped Collection – 80ml pops– Mango, Chocolate, Coconut and Strawberry, dipped in 72% single origin Madagascan chocolate.
Again, why launch a keto range?
We want to accompany consumers in their healthy lifestyle. We want to be their ice cream partner, even when following a keto diet. We want to provide a product that is in line with their choices, a low in carbs and high in good fats ice cream, which the vast majority of times is not available in the market.
And is it important to you that the bars are vegan, or was that just a happy coincidence of being healthy?
When we first spoke and conceive the brand of House of Pops, we had a 360 approach. We didn’t only want to create a product that is good for the person that is directly consuming it, but as well for the environment. That’s why we go the extra mile, when sourcing ingredients and packaging to minimise the impact we have on Earth.
What about sustainability? Are you concerned about that?
We are the first ice cream in the region with plastic free packaging. So, sustainability is part of our company culture and is a topic that is permanently on our agenda. We constantly strive and look on ways to optimise resources and reduce wastage in every step of our production line, as well as in our logistics and distribution chain. We believe that we can guide by example, and graduality more companies and people will adopt this path.
What’s next for House of Pops? You have your carts, kiosks, fridges – what’s next?
We recently launched our franchise model. Our aim is to find partners that share our vision. The model is simple and it requires a relatively low investment, while delivering a high return. We have a well-structured proposal, developed by the world’s leading franchise consultancy. We want to bring through franchising our pops to as many people as we can in UAE the gulf, Middle East and why not the world.