INETERVIEW BY: Liv Williams
In a world where grocery store products are packed with perplexing ingredient lists, Nabula Brdar, the ingenious mind behind Supermarket Swap, steps in as your trusted companion.
With an unwavering commitment to reshaping the way we shop and eat, Nabula has created a platform that’s more than just an app – it’s your partner in making mindful choices, it’s your go-to shopping list, it’s your community of like-minded parents just doing their best. Supermarket Swap translates the numbers and the indecipherable ingredients written in code on the backs of countless supermarket products and empowers us to make informed, health-conscious decisions for ourselves and our families.
We sat down with Nabula to unravel the journey and impact of Supermarket Swap.
Talk to us about how and why you started Supermarket Swap – why was it so important to you to find alternative options for your kids?
When I first became a Mum and started feeding my children, I often looked at the sodium and sugar content of packets in the supermarket but I never stopped to read the ingredient list. Whenever I did glance at the list, I found them hard to decipher and understand as they were often long and had numbers and confusing names on them.
Time went on and I started to learn more about additives and preservatives and the side effects that can occur if we exceed the ‘ADI’ or the Acceptable Daily Intake. I also started to understand how some of these additives were made and quickly realised there were lots of additives that I wasn’t comfortable consuming or feeding my kids.
When I started looking out for ingredients to avoid, I was pleasantly surprised that there were so many great alternative products on our supermarket shelves made with real and recognisable ingredients!
What kind of difference did you see in your kids and family when you started making ingredient and product swaps?
I noticed many differences. My household was calmer and small little ‘things’ that used to linger like skin ailments and upset tummies disappeared. This is purely my personal experience and what convinced me that I wanted to reduce our additive consumption.
I also noticed that, if I bought the additive-free products I loved when they were on sale, it didn’t cost me any more to buy the groceries made with better quality ingredients.
Why do you think this touched such a nerve with parents and took off like it did?
As parents, we will do whatever we can to better the lives of our families. Once parents became aware of some of the ingredients and side effects of some of our additives, they couldn’t simply turn a blind eye! Once you know, you know and with our kids, we really are trying our best.
What products shocked you the most when you discovered the amount of weird numbers and unfamiliar ingredients in them?
Some of the most surprising products are when they say they are ‘Banana Muffins’ for example but then there is no banana in them. Instead, the flavour comes from artificial banana ‘flavour’. This can be the case with so many products in our supermarkets.
I am also often surprised by the differences within one category. For example, some soy sauces are made with just water, soybeans, salt and wheat whereas others have long ingredient lists including flavour and added MSG.
Give us an overview of the Supermarket Swap app, and what functionality it has for families.
The Supermarket Swap App was designed by an overwhelmed Mum (hi, that’s me!) who wanted to take control of their grocery shopping. It started with a catalogue of about 300 additive and preservative free products plus the weekly specials and space to share your additive free finds with us. Now, it has over 2,000 products in the SHOP section, a recipe catalogue of over 180 recipes, over 300 new specials are shared with members each week plus an easy to populate meal plan template and shopping list. We also have done extensive research on the additives approved for use in Australia and you can simply type in any name or number and find research from qualified professionals ranked as either SAFE, CAUTION or AVOID. This feature is a real game-changer when it comes to understanding what is in your food.
What are the main differences between the paid and the free version of the app?
With the free version, you get access to one new recipe, released every Friday. This recipe comes complete with additive free product recommendations and a shopping list. Plus, you also get 4 new additive free products each week. This is one new product on our home page and then the 3 community find products. You can also share your additive free finds with us.
Members get access to the entire app including our COOK, SEARCH, SHOP and SPECIALS sections so you can streamline how you shop and save money at the checkout!
How have you personally managed the amazing growth of the business, being a busy mum and keeping a balance with your family life?
I feel so lucky to have built a business out of something that I love to do. I love sharing swaps and finding great products; I love food and recipes and cooking; I love my community on social media, they are just so supportive, hilarious, and kind. I don’t always get the balance right and when I’m excelling at work, I often feel like it falls apart at home and vice versa! I like to remind myself that we can have it all – just not all at once!
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