A YORK woman who launched her own health food company after losing her job during the coronavirus lockdown is already in talks with a major online retailer.

Suzanne Ferreira, a trained accountant, took the plunge and set up The Proper Oats Company after her long-term contract with a Government agency was cut short.

Born from her love of nourishing food, Suzanne's company creates all-natural Overnight Oat pots - a no-cook, chilled version of porridge, made with Skyr, wholegrain oats and real fruit puree.York Press:

Within weeks of its launch, The Proper oats Company is already being stocked by Sourced Market in the Skelton Lakes Services in Leeds and Suzanne said she was also discussing deals with an online retail giant as well as a health food company.

Suzanne said launching a new business in such unprecedented times was daunting and exciting.

However, she said she had received 'invaluable support' from Alice Ingram, a York business adviser with Ad:Venture Programme.

"With the health crisis and the government's stance on tackling obesity, there has never been a more challenging time. But equally there has never been a greater need or demand for tasty, healthy food products," said Suzanne, from Strensall.

“I love the challenge and I’m proud of what I’ve have managed to achieve so far with the invaluable support I’ve had.

“Our Overnight Oats genuinely tick all the boxes of health, convenience and delicious taste. Plus they're made locally, which I know will appeal to people who are conscious of the provenance of their food.”

Suzanne is also a mother, qualified nutritionist and successful figure competitor who has been invited to compete at the Arnold Sports Festival Europe - a major annual multi-sport event - in Seville, Spain, in December. She has decided to postpone her entry until next year.

"People say 'you're a bodybuilder – really?' I know it’s an unusual hobby but I love the challenge, dedication and the lifestyle. It's an incredible feeling having my daughter see me on stage then being able to hand her my trophies. I’m able to show her that with hard work and the right mindset you really can achieve anything you work for.”

Proper Oats was created when Suzanne was unable to find ready-to-eat porridge or overnight oats made with natural ingredients and not loaded with refined sugar.

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“Raising my daughter, my most important and wonderful role, while working full-time and training for competitions doesn't make healthy eating easy,” she said. “I spend a lot of time preparing meals and have always struggled to find healthy, delicious, convenient breakfasts to go on the supermarket shelves.

“I’m a huge believer in the power of good nutrition and breakfast in particular. For me it really is the most important meal, as it kick-starts the day and fuels your body with the nutrients it needs to slowly release energy all morning."

Suzanne said porridge had played a key part in helping her get in shape.

“It’s in my roots. My grandpa John, Scottish through and through, used to love his porridge with salt. I’m now following my passion to create a meaningful, successful healthy food brand that helps to make your life healthier, tastier and easier.

“I really believe that healthy food doesn’t have to be boring or tasteless – far from it. I also believe in support – supporting each other, our consumers, our partners, local businesses and the UK food industry.

"I grew up in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales so having the Skyr sourced from there is close to my heart. It’s important to me to support the superb local food producers and businesses we have here in Yorkshire.”

Proper Oaks is stocked at various outlets including The Balloon Tree, York; The Greengrocer (Acomb); Fodder Harrogate; Fruitique, York; Connoisseurs Delicatessen; Origin Fine Foods; 1066 Deli & Bakery; Langlands Garden Centre, Shiptonthorpe; The Mile Farm Shop; and Sourced Market at Skelton Lake Services off J45 of the M1 Leeds.

Skyr, a thick, creamy, Icelandic-style yoghurt, uses about four times the amount of milk as a standard pot of yoghurt, making it high in protein and calcium and it’s naturally fat-free.

* AD:VENTURE provides fully-funded business support across West and North Yorkshire to eligible pre-start, young and new business who have strong growth ambitions.

The programme offers tailored business support to boost growth and develop businesses in their early years.

Funded by the European Regional Development fund and regional partners, AD:VENTURE enables businesses to grow in capability, credibility, confidence and competence.

Support available includes expert mentoring, grants, professional workshops, finance brokerage and specialist sector advice.

To be eligible for support, businesses should be an SME trading less than 36 months, be based in the Leeds City Region area, which includes York, primarily trade with other businesses or be looking to growth their B2B market and have ambition for growth.

Visit www.ad-venture.org.uk for more details.