Nimisha Raja (front right) receives the company's Queen's Award for International Trade

The launch of a new range of air-dried ingredients is helping a healthy crisp manufacturer emerge from the pandemic stronger than before.

Nim’s Fruit Crisps, which employs 18 people at its factory in Sittingbourne, responded to the drop in ‘Food on the Move’ demand by accelerating the introduction of its latest Let’s Cook and Let’s Bake products designed for bars, restaurants and retailers.

Two high-profile restaurant chains are already trialling the 100% natural bespoke ingredients in their dishes as they look to benefit from a more cost-effective option that delivers great taste, improved aesthetics and a longer, 24-month shelf life.

The ingredients are very versatile and can be used to garnish salad, flavour a porridge, or as a main ingredient (in a soup for instance) and products range from the ubiquitous onion and dried ginger to the more exotic sea buckthorn.

The company has invested over £75,000 into machinery and a new production line to help increase capacity and give it the ability to produce smaller pieces and in packaging options ranging from small, sealed packs to 5kg bulk bags.

This latest product was made public a few days after Nim’s Fruit Crisps was presented with its Queen’s Award for Innovation by Lady Colgrain, the Lord-Lieutenant of Kent.

She spoke glowingly about the firm’s workforce, who has kept going throughout the pandemic and the way the company is putting ‘The Garden of England’ on the map for its healthy crisps, infusions and ingredients.

“Covid-19 and the work from home edict has pretty much eliminated office life in city centres and this has had a massive impact on ‘Food on the Move’,” explained Nimisha Raja, Founder of Nim’s Fruit Crisps.

“We could either bemoan our luck or try and do something different, taking our expertise in air-dried manufacturing to launch a new range of ingredients for use in the food and drink sector and, hopefully, with independent and high-street retailers.”

She went on to add: “The initial response has been great, and we currently have two main ranges – Let’s Cook for chillies, courgettes, ginger, mushrooms, peppers and onion, and Let’s Bake to encompass apples, pears, pineapple and strawberries.

“These are really tapping into the major rise in home cooking and baking and, one of the most pleasing things here, is that nothing is off the table, as the air-drying process means we can work with all fruit and vegetables.

“Officially receiving our Queen’s Award has been a long time coming, but it was definitely worth the wait. We wanted to make sure our staff were front and centre of celebrations as they’ve been pivotal to our growth…and what better time to accept the crystal trophy than a few days after we bring our latest ‘innovation’ to market.”

The launch of ingredients comes on the back of the successful roll-out of its infusions, which are ideal for garnishing drinks and infusing water bottles, teas and alcoholic beverages.

It has already sealed ongoing deals with a number of subscription-bases businesses, the event sector and festivals keen to manage costs and reduce waste, whilst passengers on the Eurostar will have enjoyed air-dried slices of fruit with their drinks.

Retailers have started to stock the resealable pouches, with pink grapefruit and kumquat varieties joining lemon, lime, orange, cucumber and grapefruit.

Nimisha added: “The infusions come in packs of 12 to 20 slices, taste great and are a sustainable way of having orange, lemon, lime and other fruit at the ready. There is no waste that you would usually get when using fresh fruit, our slices rehydrate to their original state once added to the drink and are ideal for people who have got their own home bar or are attempting to make new creations.

“Whilst Brexit has caused us a lot of issues, the upside is that many businesses are now looking closer to home when they are sourcing ingredients and their infusions. This is good news for our business and one we want to capitalise on going forward.”