Snack brand Graze has begun its expansion into Europe with a direct-to-consumer roll-out in the Republic of Ireland.

The business, which was acquired by Unilever this year, plans to expand into other European markets, including Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands, in the coming months.

Graze was founded in the UK in 2008 by developers and logistics experts and now employs more than 500 people.

It was originally sold direct to consumers, but expanded into retail in the UK in 2015 and in the US in 2016, and now has a presence in more than 30,000 retailers across both markets.

Graze said entering a market online first enabled it to build engagement without having to invest in bricks and mortar to start. Describing this as a ‘test and go live’ strategy, the business has already acquired more than 5,000 customers since launching in Ireland last month.

Irish customers can currently choose from three trial boxes: a variety box with a selection of top sellers, a light box of snacks under 150kcal, or a box of protein-based snacks.

Graze added that it has tracked more than 20 million social media impressions in Ireland over the past few weeks, and had gained attention from Irish social media influencers.

 “We’re really excited to be expanding our geographical footprint as we look to disrupt the European healthy snacking market over the coming year,” said Graze CEO Anthony Fletcher.

“We’ve already seen a positive response from consumers since launching in Ireland.”

A year ago, Graze rebranded its range in a move designed to counter negative views around snacking.