Phil Acock in the Fourayes Fruit Processing plant

Fruit industry comment and insights from Phil Acock

Apr 1, 2017

Snacking on the go keeps on growing!

Regular readers of my blog will recall that I’ve been talking about snacking on the go since well before it became the sizeable trend it is today.

It makes sense as the dual pressures of increasing demands and less available time squeeze eating time into a few stolen moments between tasks.

The statistics are compelling:

In December 2015, 95% of UK adults snacked. According to Harris Interactive, almost 60% of people skip meals and eat snacks instead, with nearly 1/3 of young women saying they do this daily. Just less than half of the sample said they either needed to eat on the go or that snacking is easier, whilst 66% claimed they’d tried to find healthier snacking alternatives.

Fourayes history is one of innovation – from the dip that stops apple flesh from browning to industry-changing products such as Fourayes Utterly Fruity (enabling fresh apple to be used in applications previously deemed impossible due to water migration, spoilage, etc).

This year we have had a number of innovation breakthroughs including our new Plumptious process (still under wraps) and our Utterly Fruity zesty peel range.

However, the real innovation winner comes from last year and it’s not from our production facilities. It’s from Fourayes Farm.

I first spoke to Ian, our farm manager, almost 7 years ago about snacking on the go, then thought little more of the conversation...until late last year.

Fourayes is the largest grower and processor of English Bramley apples in the UK, but we started life as a mixed arable farm and continue to process large volumes of all types of soft fruits. Whilst our farm land was turned over almost entirely to growing Bramley apples for long term storage some years ago, Ian does have an experimental area. It’s here that the innovation took place.

According to Ian, his inspiration was the appearance of miniature, snack-size doughnuts in supermarkets somewhere around the same time as our conversation.

Using the techniques that are employed to create miniature Bonsai, Ian and his team have been developing a miniature orchard complete with miniature fruit: in other words, the perfect fresh answer to snacking on the go.

The first crop was apparently too small to be of commercial use but the crop that was harvested late in 2016 shows all the signs of meeting the supermarket criteria for portion snacking. Ever cautious, Ian held back revealing the results until he’d tested the crop in long term storage. The apples were taken out of storage this week when I saw them for the first time and I can honestly report they’re beyond belief!

There is one major challenge still to meet however: with miniature apples come miniature cores. Although these are easy to deal with in full-size products they become more of an issue in miniaturised fruit. At this stage we don’t have a definitive answer. However, Ian and his team are currently working on a growing regime that encourages soft pips and septum that allow the miniature fruits to be eaten as a whole.

We’ll certainly let you know how Ian gets on, whether he’s able to trick the apples into changing the way they form internally; and hopefully where you’ll be able to buy your first Fourayes miniature apple snack bag.

Phil Acock. Managing Director and Mad Scientist at Fourayes; the UK’s number one grower and processor of English Bramley apples and processor of fruits from the UK and across the globe.

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