Making it Work

Health food firm eyes new investment round by end of 2023

Dr Coy’s, which makes sweets and other foods with a healthier form of sugar, has its chocolate bars stocked in more than 600 stores around Ireland

Alison Stroh, founder of Dr Coy’s, with her brother Aaron O’Donohue who runs the business with her

Dr Coy’s, the Irish health food company, is aiming to close a new investment round by the end of 2023 in a bid to continue its expansion.

The business, which makes sweets and other foods with a healthier form of sugar, has grown steadily since raising €400,000 in a seed funding round in 2020. Its chocolate bars, which are made with low-glycaemic sugars, are now stocked in more than 600 stores around Ireland.

But the firm has firm plans for further growth according to Alison Stroh, its founder, with further investment imminent. Stroh declined to provide specifics on the size of the funding round, but said the firm planned to hire at least three more staff as part of its development plans.

“We’re looking to expand in terms of headcount, and once that investment comes through we’ll be hiring again,” she said. “So that’s very exciting.”

The idea for Dr Coy’s, which has backing from Enterprise Ireland, was born in 2012 when Stroh attended a conference addressed by Dr Johannes Coy, an expert in the health benefits of natural foods.

“I was always very into health and nutrition, and Dr Coy was talking about this sugar, like a healthy sugar, and my ears pricked up,” she said “He was pitching it as a good sugar, an intelligent sugar, which provides energy to the brain. He said it provided positive energy without the spikes and crashes that you get in your blood sugar levels when you consume regular sugar.”

The ingredients Coy was talking about included isomaltulose, which is found naturally in honey and sugar beet, and galactose, which is found in the body and in dairy products. “I just kept thinking: why did we not have this option to have chocolate but without the negative side effects of sugar?,” said Stroh.

She flew to Germany, met Coy and pitched her idea. “I proposed to him to develop a lifestyle brand, and take his invention to the market.”

Coy’s recipe is a patented one, meaning Dr Coy’s Health Foods has exclusive licence to sell it in Ireland. Its products are listed in Tesco and Supervalu, as well as health food stores around the country, and it is aiming to expand its sales in the British market, where it is currently listed in around 15 different outlets.

Dr Coy’s doesn’t only sell sweet treats like its chocolate bars, Stroh said. “We also sell an organic vegetable bouillon, which is made up of 25 different herbs and vegetables, and sea salt, as well as a stevia product,” she said.

It is looking to continue expanding its product listing, as well as targeting further overseas growth, in the coming years. “We have strong growth plans in place – particularly looking at niche markets, like diabetes and particular sports areas where our products would be applicable,” she said. “That’s something we want to target on a worldwide basis.”

This Making it Work article is produced in partnership with Enterprise Ireland