A newly formed Australian frozen fruit company says demand for its product range has been strong in the first six months of sales.
Aussie Frozen Fruit was launched into the Woolworths supermarket in April, and Chief Operating Officer Stu Hamill says there have been cautious times given the global COVID-19 pandemic, although the demand has ensured the launch has been a successful one.
"We have certainly exceeded all expectations," he said. "With more people eating at home, and wanting a healthy Australian option, we have achieved over and above our expectations. The current environment has given us an opportunity to push our product towards consumers, and now we are getting a lot of positive reviews through social media and via our website about how much they love our product. Australian consumers are seeking out locally made and owned products and are wanting to support Australian growers and farmers. They have been searching for an Australian frozen fruit option and have been very happy we have been able to offer that. Our product range has seen a huge amount of success because of this, for which we are very grateful.”
He added that the original concept came from a perception that growers were throwing away a lot of very good fruit, so this was a good opportunity to help Australian farmers. The products contain no added sugar or preservatives.
"There was also an observation that there was a lot of imported product in the frozen section of the supermarkets," Mr Hamill said. "So, there was an opportunity to firstly find a home for the fruit and then offer the Australian consumer product year-round. We have formed relationships with many growers around the country and we buy the fruit that perhaps they cannot sell in their season."
With its base in the Yarra Valley, the company originally started with the idea of creating a strawberry-based product, but given the strong demand for all berries, a mixed pack was formed including strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. It was one of the first three products on the market, alongside mango and a sole blueberry pack, with the range soon expanding.
"We had a quick task of sourcing product, setting up relationships and starting to fill Woolworths orders," Mr Hamill said. "We also have been able to put strawberries on the shelf in September, so the original product that we started with became part of the family of AFF. I think what our business centres around is availability. While many fruits are available subject to seasonality, we have our product in the freezer and available to consumers at any time. That seems to be quite attractive, and we have actually seen increased demand for our product because we are the only Australian offer on the shelf at Woolworths."
Aussie Frozen Fruit sources its fruit from grades that growers "cannot readily sell", so sometimes that can be B-Grade fruit or even fruit that has blemishes on it. Mr Hamill says during the processing, the company is able to extract some really good tasting fruit, despite initial appearance, thanks to some leading technology at its facility.
"It is a case where growers are able to sell fruits that may not have looked that great in a punnet or as a fresh product – and we find a use for that in our Aussie Frozen Fruit packs," he said. "We are excited to have a fully automated strawberry process line and automated wash systems for our berries. We have IQF freezing facilities. We have also invested heavily in storage freezers, and we run under the SQF system, meaning we run to some strict guidelines around ensuring the integrity of the product is upheld throughout the process. That ensures consumers get the best quality Australian fruit when they purchase our frozen fruit."
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Aussie Frozen Fruit