As a high-flying IT delivery director in the corporate world, Funmi Brady loves her work – but, away from the cut and thrust of the IT world, she is also equally passionate about her own project. For the last four years, she has spent every spare moment developing her own artisan business, G-Nuts, a delicious brand of ethical peanuts that are brimming with natural goodness.
Unlike most mass-produced peanuts, Funmi’s nuts contains no oil or artificial additives and are seasoned with only the lightest sprinkling of organic sea salt, allowing the real taste to shine through.
“It all started when I was growing up in Nigeria,” says Funmi, who has lived in the UK since 2000. “Back home, freshly-cooked peanuts – or ‘groundnuts’ as they are called there – are a very popular, healthy snack, and I have fond memories of enjoying them throughout my childhood. My love for groundnuts continued when I was at university and then into adulthood, as my parents would bring them over for us from Nigeria.
“Then, one day, I remember my husband saying, ‘You should sell this’ – and that’s when I hit on the idea of importing them to the UK. Then it all just went from there...”
The idea also segued nicely with something else Funmi had been mulling over. As someone with a strong social conscience, she had long had the desire to give something back – and this was the perfect way to do just that.
“Back in Lagos, there are a lot of women in their 40s, 50s and 60s who never had the chance of a proper education and therefore struggle to make a living,” says Funmi. “And even the younger women, who perhaps have enjoyed an education, can struggle to find work.
“So I decided to set up our production kitchen there in order to create employment opportunities for these women – and, importantly, jobs that also pay above the minimum wage. It’s so lovely to be using G-Nuts to help improve lives. We also pay our wholesalers a fair price for the groundnuts, too, and use recycled jars, so we try to give something back through everything that we do.”
Once they arrive at the kitchen, the groundnuts are prepared using the old, traditional method, where they are carefully washed, left to dry in the sun and then slow-cooked in small batches. They are then packed off to Funmi’s production kitchen here in the UK, in Hampton Wick in Surrey, for the packaging, marketing and distribution.
So far, their nuts have been sold mainly through small, independent outlets, such as farm shops, specialist food stores and health-food shops, as well as through local farmers’ markets, food festivals and their website. However, we could soon be seeing a lot more of them. Not only are they working on being stocked by a major supermarket chain – with a view to introducing their range by the summer of next year – but they have also just won their first Great Taste Award with a one-star rating.
“We were absolutely delighted about that – though not actually that surprised,” says Funmi. “We knew from the start that we had the best-tasting peanuts, so it was always our aim to secure a Great Taste Award. It’s a lovely endorsement for us.”
Judging from the success of G-Nuts so far, we are sure it will be the first of many such awards. A definite case of watch this space...