NZBusiness: For the love of healthy living

Forty Thieves owners Brent and Shyr Godfrey successfully steered their business through the pandemic storm and are now planning for a brighter future with new markets and new products.

“On the day Jacinda Ardern announced New Zealand’s nationwide lockdown numerous customer emails suddenly appeared in Shyr Godfrey’s inbox, including one from Foodstuffs, all stating their expectations for ongoing product supply.

“That was both fortunate and frightening,” she recalls, “because we didn’t know what the future would bring.

Luckily the nut-based products produced by Forty Thieves, the Hibiscus Coast-based company that she started with husband Brent in 2016, are regarded as essential food items.

Rather than facing declining sales, as many businesses did amongst all the panic-buying for staples, Shyr says their sales went crazy over the lockdown period.

At the time of writing (two weeks into Level 2) Forty Thieves products – such as the award-winning Salted Macadamia with Maple and Vanilla, and Chai Spiced Almond – were still selling strong, and plans well advanced for upgrading to a larger factory.

Shyr and Brent first met in 2008 and both ended up working in Sydney – Shyr was in graphic design, Brent in market research. They subsequently travelled the world, and learnt how to exist frugally – which they say proved to be a great discipline for the early days of Forty Thieves.

Brainstorming business ideas back in New Zealand led to the idea of producing a range of nutrient-rich nut butters (think almonds, peanuts, macadamias) – which they refer to as “the original superfoods”. It fitted in nicely with the fact that they both share a passion for fitness and healthy living (with Brent an experienced athlete) and sustainability (no plastic to see here!).

To get the business off the ground the couple chose the traditional route: rent a commercial kitchen by the hour, produce their own labelling, and then blitz various Farmers’ markets.

This strategy achieved product validation and it was on to health stores and food shows including the prestigious New Zealand Food Show, a deal with Farro Fresh, and finally, the big breakthrough: Foodstuff’s supermarkets (New World and Pak ‘n Save).”


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