US: Next generation of pre-packaged snacks adds fresh fruit and vegetables
Pre-packaged snack/lunch options have been around for some time but their contents are less than healthy and most often include processed meats and candy. Customizable options are made more appealing for a wider age group with the use of fresh fruits and vegetables as the “next generation of Lunchables.”
Chicago-based Wise Apple, which launched in late 2016, produces customizable lunches that all offer a fresh produce option. Produce is sourced from local growers, whenever possible and depending on what’s in season. “Apples are a huge hit,” says Rebecca Sholiton. “We make sure that apples are always on our menu.” They’re the number one item used every week in her kitchen, according to Sholiton. Carrots and homemade ranch dip are popular, she says; other commonly incorporated items include snap peas, grapes and blueberries, cherry tomatoes, and celery.
After finding a new partner, they can now offer a pineapple-mango mix. “It took us a long time to find the right partner to do that with.” Pineapple is a tricky item to work with, because Sholiton says it oxidizes itself once it’s cut into. Finding the right natural sealant was also key to making the product work. The MAP (modified atmosphere) packaging; everything is portioned and sealed individually. She says it also increases shelf life. Their Chicago importer receives them via Canada.
This year Sholiton says they’ll be selling at retail in the Chicago area. Currently for its direct to consumer business, Wise Apple operates in seven states in the Midwest. Part of the value system includes shopping the way their parents would: “the freshest and best food comes from closer to where you are – most of the time. The challenge comes when you’re in Midwestern areas – which is why we partner with local farms like Spence Farms from Central Illinois, Green City Farmer’s Market, Mighty Vine here in Chicago and Local Foods.”
Tony Quartaro says sourcing the right ingredients and developing the right partnerships are top priorities. “We want to make sure that everything that goes into our meals comes from a good place and was nurtured by people who care about it as much as we do.”
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Publication date: 2/21/2018
Author: Rebecca D Dumais
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