Sunday 25 February 2018

Bad back proves a lucky break for Chia Bia pair

SEED CAPITAL: From left, Ray Owens and Barrie Rogers of Chia Bia. Photo: Dylan Vaughan
SEED CAPITAL: From left, Ray Owens and Barrie Rogers of Chia Bia. Photo: Dylan Vaughan
Louise McBride

Louise McBride

A BAD back isn't the kind of thing you'd expect to be the inspiration for a new business. Yet, for Ray Owens and Barrie Rogers, a back injury proved to be just that. The two Tramore men set up Chia Bia, a company which supplies chia seeds to health stores, in 2009, shortly after Barrie hurt his back while travelling around the US.

"Barrie came across chia seeds by accident in America in 2008," explained Ray.

"He hurt his back and someone recommended he take chia seeds. He found them to be really good anti-inflammatories," said Ray.

Barrie then approached Ray, who had a background in the food industry, to see what he thought of chia seeds – and if it would be possible to set up a business using them.

Chia seeds are a super food which are high in omega 3, according to Ray. "They're very good for cardiovascular health and they help to reduce blood pressure," he said.

The move towards healthier lifestyles means there's a big demand for chia seeds in Ireland and overseas, according to Ray.

Chia Bia supplies chia seeds to about 150 health food stores across Ireland as well as multiples such as Tesco, Dunnes Stores, Superquinn and SuperValu. The company expects to have a turnover of about €2m by the end of the year – and about 65 per cent of this turnover comes from export, according to Ray.

"We supply about 1,200 health stores in Britain, including Holland & Barrett," said Ray. "People are looking at their food as a fuel for their bodies – as opposed to using chemicals. Many people think that if you can eat a natural whole food that has nothing added to it, that that's much better than going into a local chemist and buying a tablet."

Sunday Independent

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