The origins of Hubbards can be tracked back to a cement mixer called Mlidred, but the brand has grown from these humble beginnings over the last 25 years into a firm favourite on the Kiwi breakfast table.
In 1987, during a trip to New York, Dick Hubbard shared with his wife Diana plans to create cereals that would “make New Zealand proud and healthier at the same time”. Now, as Hubbards moves into its 26th year, it’s hard to argue that Dick’s dream hasn’t turned into a reality.
While the eureka moment happened in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, Hubbards couldn’t be more Kiwi in its origins. As testament to the number eight wire philosophy that typified the early days of the company, Hubbard and his team used a cement mixer to jumble the grains, oats and fruits that went into every box of muesli.
It wasn’t until 1990, when Hubbard changed the name of the company from Winners Foods to Hubbards, that the trusty old cement mixer was finally retired.
Things have become much more professional over the years and these days the entire product-making process is managed from a flash solar-panel-covered shed in Mangere.
While solar power clearly cuts down on electricity use, cost saving wasn’t the only consideration that went into the decision to incorporate renewable energy into the business.
Hubbards has been on mission to promote social responsibility in business for almost two decades, and this commitment to the cause saw Hubbard play a key role in the formation of the NZ Business for Social Responsibility Organisation (now The Sustainable Business Network) in 1998.
Roger Kerr once said “the business of businesses is business” but Hubbard believed “the business of businesses is more than business”.
Although he said this in 1998, the idea remains evident in everything the company does, particularly in its campaigns by creative agency Hunter, which has worked with the brand for the last three years.
In the ‘Keep the Good Going’ campaign Hubbards set off a chain reaction of good deeds by rewarding do-gooders with two boxes of muesli, one to keep and one to give.
In a more elaborate gesture, the ‘Amazing Heroes’ campaign saw $15,000 donated to people making a difference in their communities.
However, to celebrate its 25th birthday, Hubbards mixed things up by receiving rather than giving. For ‘What’s your perfect muesli?’ kiwis submitted 6,000 muesli recipes to be taste tested in the chance to have it put on the shelves.
The winning dark chocolate and raspberry muesli is the latest to join the list of Hubbards cereals, which has expanded over the years to now include 41 original muesli variations.
Of these, the Outward Bound range is particularly famous. Since 1997 Hubbards has donated 50 cents from each sale to The Outward Bound Trust of New Zealand totaling, $2 million and more than 3.2 tonnes of muesli.
So while a name change may have been a better fit for the cereal, the original cannot be forgotten, because as Hubbards continue to act with social responsibility, it appears kiwis are the real ‘Winners’.