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Air-dried fruit crisps plug a healthy snacks gap, says founder

1 commentBy Kacey Culliney , 21-Aug-2012
Last updated the 21-Aug-2012 at 14:24 GMT

Nim's fruit crisps

An air-dried, gluten-free fruit crisps line aims to tap into the healthy snacks arena, marking an interesting and innovative addition to the sector, according to the company founder.

The London-based company Nim’s Fruit Crisps, established in October 2011, has developed a line of fruit crisps that are gluten-free, low calorie with no additives or preservatives. Each pack also represents one of the UK’s recommended five a day fruit and vegetable portions.

The snack comes in several flavour varieties - Apple & Strawberry, Pineapple & Mango, Orange & Melon, Apple & Kiwi and Pear & Kiwi - but research and development (R&D) is underway on new variations.

Nimisha Raja, founder of the company, described the product as “very unusual”.

“There isn’t a lot of competition in terms of other fruit crisp products,” Raja told BakeryandSnacks.com.

While there are other fruit crisp products on the market, many are fried, she said.

There are also dried fruit options but “often the product can be sticky and messy” with many consumers eating it because they know it is healthy and they feel they should, she added.

However, the Nim’s fruit crisp range doesn’t feel like a healthy, must-eat food, Raja said, and the calories are also significantly lower than dried fruits at 62-78 calories per pack.

“The only hurdle I face is getting consumers to understand the concept of what a fruit crisp is,” she said.

Air-dried healthier processing

The air-drying process aims to remove as much moisture as possible from the fruit while maintaining the nutritional value, Raja said.

The skins, cores and pips are also kept, she said, as these parts of the fruit are high in nutritional value.

“Not having to remove the skins and cores makes production a lot easier and quicker and there is also very little wastage so production is sustainable,” she said.

Temperatures for the air-drying process vary depending on the fruit and production takes place over a 7-9 hour period.

Raja revealed that plans are underway to invest in research into drying at lower temperatures to produce a raw end product.

Sourcing hurdles

“The biggest challenge is sourcing the fruit at the right time of year, for the best price and then producing the end product within a small time-frame,” the founder said.

Most of the fruits are sourced from Europe and the pineapple from Costa Rica and while not organic currently due to costs, one of the future business aims is to source organic produce, the founder said.

The company does however work directly with local farmers and Raja aims to build strong relationships across the globe to ensure a strong future to the business.

Production takes place in Hungary with a capacity to produce one tonne of dried fruit per day, the equivalent to 10-20 tonnes of fresh. However, operations are not at this level yet, Raja said. The firm currently produces in batches working once a month for a 2-3 week period to produce between 180,000-200,000 packs of fruit crisps.

“We are still relatively small, still learning and working to ensure we are working with the right products, production and suppliers,” Raja said.

“At the moment my focus is on expanding the current line, working on speciality lines for Christmas and Easter and achieving exclusive partnerships with retailers,” she said.

Big future, smaller consumers?

Nim’s is also set to launch a children’s fruit crisp line at the end of the year, with packaging of the products finalised at the end of October.

The children’s range will differ significantly in terms of packaging but will also only feature single-flavour products, Raja said.

“This move to single-flavours is more from a price point of view to make the snacks affordable for schools buying them,” she said, however it should also appeal to children more. 

1 comment (Comments are now closed)

Think nutritional composition losses when air-drying

Processed foods are criticized for failing to consider the impact of processing has on changes to nutrient composition and phytochemical bioactivity. The company should be conducting studies to show that its method of processing does not significantly lower levels of nutrients or decrease the bioactivity of compounds in the fruits that can play a role in health maintenance.

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Posted by Alexander Schauss
21 August 2012 | 18h38

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