A YOUNG entrepreneur from Neilston is causing a stir after turning his lockdown project into an award-winning vegan hot chocolate brand.

Jared Keir spent a year living in chocolate-obsessed Switzerland as part of a service project through his church.

On his return to the UK, he noticed a gap in the market for people, like him, who have a milk allergy or intolerance and wish to enjoy the popular beverage.

Determined to fix this, the 22-year-old began experimenting and came up with a plant-based version that uses coconut milk powder and Scottish oat powder to create a sweet and creamy flavour.

Eighteen months later, Pour products are now stocked in around 30 outlets UK-wide and his original ‘all-natural vegan hot chocolate’ recipe is the proud owner of a Great Taste Award.

Jared told the Barrhead News: “I’ve grown up my whole life without good hot chocolate, so when I came home I went into my mum’s kitchen and pulled out loads of different powders.

“It was a lot of trial and error and I used to give cups out to my family with different numbers on them and get them to taste them.

“It’s quite crazy that, from my mum’s kitchen, I’ve been able to create something that competes against some of the best tasting hot chocolate in the world, you could say, or the UK definitely.”

Following its humble beginnings, Pour moved to an outhouse in Neilston, where the flagship product is still manufactured.

The firm now also makes cinnamon and occasional limited-edition versions, along with a recently-launched barista type.

Having the premises nearby is handy for Jared, who doesn’t have a moment to spare between running the business and studying for his degree at Strathclyde University, where his hot chocolate is stocked on campus.

It has not been all plain sailing but his desire to have an impact on both the environment and strangers has helped him ride out the tough times during the Covid pandemic.

Jared, who is a triplet and lives in Neilston with his mum Michelle, dad Andrew and two of his four brothers, is proud to say that one tree is planted for every pouch he sells.

The former Neilston Primary and Eastwood High pupil explained: “We work with an organisation which does a reforestation project in Madagascar and in Kenya and also does some wildlife conservation projects here in Scotland.

“We also recently moved to completely compostable and biodegradable packaging, so it means that our full product is sustainable.

“It’s a bit more expensive but we have to make those decisions for the long term.

“It’s cool and all owning and running a hot chocolate brand but one of the reasons I started it was because I wanted to create a platform to do good.

“The true key to happiness comes when you help other people, so I thought if I can make other people a wee bit happier with hot chocolate, that’s where the fulfilment comes.”

To find out more about Jared’s products, visit here.