Praveen Vijh is consumed by a single vision: to take the healthy eating market by storm.

As brand manager of cereal bar Eat Natural, he’s chipped away at the sector since the company was launched at the International Food and Drink Exhibition in 1997.
And since his background is not in the food industry but in engineering, except for four years trading in rice, lentils and pulses, it has been tough going at times.

“The biggest hurdle has been learning how to manufacture a product like this without the experience or the sophisticated manufacturing equipment initially,” he says.
The fruit and nut bars, which are bonded with glucose and honey and contain no artificial additives or preservatives, were originally made by Vijh in his kitchen at home. 

Eventually, he formed a business based in Halstead, Essex with close friends Preet Grewal and Bill Porter.
He was determined to stick as much as possible to the original recipe and production method for the bars.
But creating a factory which would enable him to do this was not easy, he says: “It took 18 months to design a factory from scratch to allow for the gentle treatment we wanted for ingredients.”
The next problem was how to effectively promote such a premium product.
“We had to convince the public to buy a product that was 3-4 times more expensive than its equivalents,” he says.
Vijh began by building the product’s reputation by securing listings at health food retailer Holland & Barrett as well as distributing it to cafés. Eventually, the major multiples became interested. Now Eat Natural is available through 8,500 UK outlets, including Tesco, Sainsbury and Waitrose and is exported to 13 countries.

His vision realised, Vijh advises others just starting out: “You should follow your beliefs. There are so many times when you think it will never happen, but now here we are.”