Pouch initiative could see food mainstay canned

CONVENIENT: Factory manager Alan Warne with some of the FreshFields Fast and Fruity pouches.
CONVENIENT: Factory manager Alan Warne with some of the FreshFields Fast and Fruity pouches.

Enzafoods has launched a new fruit-in-a-plastic-pouch product, which it claims will make cans redundant.

The FreshFields Fast and Fruity pouches are made exclusively at the company's Nelson factory, and it expects sales in New Zealand and Australia to exceed $4 million in the first year and to double over the next two years.

Sales and marketing manager Dave France said that until now, only baby food and pureed fruit had been produced in pourable pouches. "There was nothing for anyone over the age of 10."

Now chunky fruit will be sold in the resealable pouches. Mr France said it was designed as a quick and easy breakfast to go on cereals, or an ingredient for making anything from smoothies and baking to iceblocks and pancakes.

"No longer will you have to use a can opener or worry how to store what's left over in the fridge."

He said the product fitted consumer demand for quick, convenient, healthy and safe-to-keep foods, which was one of the fastest-growing supermarket categories.

Mr France defended the $4.50 price for a 500-millilitre pouch, saying that while packaging added to the cost, each pouch contained 100 per cent fruit, unlike canned fruit, which was 40 per cent sugar syrup or juice.

He said several hundred tonnes of Nelson apples, boysenberries and blackcurrants were used, along with peaches and plums from Hawke's Bay.

"We envisage that will grow quite significantly."

It had led to more work being created at Enzafoods' Nelson factory, which now employed 30 permanent fulltime staff, whereas many of these had been seasonal jobs in the past, he said. The range was part of a $15 million investment in developing added-value production technology in Hastings and Nelson over the past five years.

Further investment at the Nelson factory was likely as demand for such products grew, he said. It had earned Enzafoods its first retail export deal into Australia, with supermarket giant Coles agreeing to stock the pouches.

The Nelson Mail