Food & Drink

Sandy’s strawberry story: New Forest Fruit Company set to electrify with pulse-dried fruit

Sandy Booth, owner of The New Forest Fruit Company, with Jen from Lymington-based Naked Jam.

By Sam Pither [email protected]

Published: June 14, 2023 | Updated: 16th June 2023

“How can we make the most of the 200-300 tonnes of surplus strawberries we produce?”

This was the question Sandy Booth, owner of The New Forest Fruit Company asked himself.

“For a while we would sell our excess product and those which didn’t make the grade for direct sale to be used in jams and juices, but there wasn’t much value in that.

“The other problem we’ve had previously is that the strawberry production period is around seven months of the year, so for five months there’s no money coming in”

Sandy’s solution is the newly launched New Forest Fruit Snacks. These use a method called pulse-drying, in which the strawberries are pulsed with an electric current before going through the freeze-drying process.

“Freeze-dried strawberries are nothing new, they’ve been used in cereal and other places for years.

“It’s the pulsing which makes ours different.”

“That locks in all the nutrition and flavour much better; the electric pierces a hole in the cell which also creates a sponge.

“So, when you put them in a drink the strawberry soaks up the liquid and explodes when you bite down into it.

“That’s the attraction, and that’s where we expect to win some of the market share.

“We can also sell these year-round. The main limiter on how long they’ll last is the packaging – we’ve used a biodegradable packet which will break down in a composter in 36 weeks.

People of all ages enjoy canopies including freeze-dried asparagus grown by The New Forest Fruit Company.

“Sustainability is really what it’s all about – the process itself is utilising strawberries which otherwise might not make it into class one, maybe because they’ve got a small bruise.

“Making the packet as sustainable as possible was the obvious next step”.

This sustainability comes from more than just making the most of a product and considering the packaging, however.

“The other big thing is that it’s a British product,” Sandy explained.

“Most of the similar products in this space come from Spain or Morocco, which obviously has to be transported over here.

“That’s why we’ve put the British flag in the background on the front, to show these are British strawberries, grown and processed here.”

And strawberries may just but the first step on a new path for The New Forest Fruit Company.

“We grow asparagus and raspberries, and we’ve put them through the same process as the strawberries with encouraging results.

“I could also see us doing apples in the future. Imagine drinking a cider then at the end you’ve got a slice of apple which has soaked up some of the drink. It will be healthy as well as tasting fantastic.

(From Left) Vince, Irek, Jackie and Lorraine

“I’m really proud to see what we’ve produced, and excited to see where we go in the future – both with this new line of products and with the company more widely. Next year we’re looking to launch New Forest Fruit Wines, for example.

“I like to think I’m an innovative kind of guy, and I’m always passionate about what I do.

“So, we grow asparagus now, which is something we didn’t do five years ago.

“With everything we do though, my main goal is that the customer enjoys it. When I deliver a punnet of strawberries to someone I want them to enjoy it and come back, and it’s the same with the pulse-dried fruit.”

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