The Premium Snack Company – operated by UK-based freeze-dried fruit specialist Chaucer Foods – developed its ‘Nothing But’ snack line in mid-2013 and has recently launched in the UK.
Richard Isley, group sales and marketing director at Chaucer Foods, said the line has lots of potential but needs to overcome the hurdle of a lack of consumer understanding around the concept of freeze drying.
“Consumers require education and really it’s about discovery,” Isley told BakeryandSnacks.com.
The Premium Snack Company carefully chose the brand name ‘Nothing But’ to ensure a healthy image of the snacks amid potential confusion over the freeze drying process, he said.
“This is a fantastic process. This is why the brand name is so important and on-pack communication – to ensure the consumer does see it’s something quite different…It’s a new message to get across.”
‘It’s the gentlest form of preservation’
Freeze drying removes all of the water content from the vegetable in a slow process that can take as long as 30 hours.
While this process is energy-intensive, Isley said it reduced waste and left a very nutrient-rich end product - up to 95-99% of the vegetable’s nutrients remain intact.
“It’s the gentlest form of preservation…But it really needs to be carefully thought through in how it’s described. It is a scientific process but it’s also an art,” he said.
Starting small and niche
The snack line has been launched into small outlets like farm shops, specialty health food stores and delis in a bid to target health-conscious consumers.
“We don’t think it’s something that can go straight into supermarkets. It would get lost in a big supermarket at this stage – it needs more of a slow-burn launch,” Isley said.
“We’re not going into the main snacks aisle, we’re going where we think that point of difference will be appreciated.”
Consumers shopping in these outlets will be the “early adopters”, he said, and after that the company can look to expand into other channels.
Can an ingredients supplier succeed in end products?
Chaucer Foods launched a freeze-dried fruit snack line O! So Natural in 2011 but the brand has since been discontinued. “Really, it was just ahead of its time,” said Isley.
Asked if Chaucer was ‘out of its comfort zone’ launching another end snack product, the sales and marketing director said: “Yes, we are. But there is some expertize we have in the business. If there are no brands launching out there, it makes sense for us to do it. Chaucer wants to take the lead and maximize the opportunity.”
The company is new to this; it is experimenting, he said, “but if it’s going to work, it’s going to work in this area”.
Veggies instead of fruit
The company has launched three vegetable variants – sliced beetroot & parsnip, pea & sweetcorn, and mange tout & red pepper – a strategic move.
“We are still considering fruit, but for consumers in the UK there are already air-dried fruit snacks on the market and so we thought they would be more interested with a vegetable product. We’re also seeing a lot of noise about the five-a-day being vegetable based instead because of the sugars fruit contains – that’s the sort of information and messages in the press.”