Snact are a brilliant company with a passion to create change through using food waste. We caught up with them to talk food waste, fruit jerky and becoming a snactivist!
Tonnes of perfectly good fruit and vegetables get rejected before reaching shop shelves in the UK. Snact turn that surplus into healthy snacks that contribute to one of your five a day.
First of all huge thumbs up from us. You were fighting the food waste challenge way before it actually made mainstream press. What first prompted you to look at the fruit and veg waste issue and see it as potential for a product?
Thank you! We both studied Environmental Technology at Imperial College and had been interested in food and sustainability for a while. Then one day we got talking about this, and both our desires to start a business. We put the two together and started brainstorming. When we realized how big then issue of food waste was, we decided that that’s where we had to start! We researched what types of food got wasted on what scale andn found out that apples were one of the biggest ones to be discarded here in the UK, the home of more than 3000 types of apples. That’s what sparked our initial interest!
How did you create a network of farmers and producers and convince them to hand over their waste produce?
At the very beginning we would go to London wholesale markets and collect surplus fruit – taking produce that sellers weren’t able to sell. We would then turn it into our first prototype snacks made by hand in a kitchen. But that soon became impractical, especially if we wanted to increase volumes. So we found a farm in Kent which does the processing – they also have good relationships with local farmers. We’ve also met a lot of different people working on food waste like Feedback, The Food Surplus Entrepreneurs Network, TakeStock. Just last week we went to Kent to pick up hundreds of kilos of bananas that were going to be thrown away! We hired a van and drove them to our processing plant and they will soon be made into fruit jerky.
Once you have the surplus fruit and veggies – what happens next to turn it into the delicious packets of Snact fruit jerky?
At the moment we only make 100% fruit snacks but we’ll be adding veg soon. Once we’ve collected the surplus, we sort it, clean it, blend it into our different flavours and then dry them in an industrial dehydrator. After that, they’re sent off to be packed and from there, dispatched to our distributors and retailers!
Food waste is so high on the agenda just now, with various celebs such as Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall championing change. How do you see this movement changing the way our food is produced?
There’s definitely a lot of activity to tackle food waste happening in the UK and Europe just now. Hopefully that leads to a massive reduction of food waste at different levels. In the supply chain, we’ll probably start seeing more of a secondary market for all the stuff that would usually get discarded. France is quite advanced in that respect compared to the UK.
The growing awareness of the issue should also hopefully lead to individual households wasting less. If you look at food and sustainability more broadly, there’s a movement to create a better food system – one that is environmentally responsible and socially just. We really believe that small changes can collectively have an enormous impact. People clearly care a lot more about provenance and sustainability when it comes to food, and that can only be a good thing! It also means that anyone can be a Snactivist.
We really want to encourage people to put their purchasing power behind ideas they believe in, so that what’s good for you is also good for the planet. But of course we’re not alone in this – there are lots of other brilliant brands founded on the idea of sustainability. As the popular hashtag says, it’s the #futureoffood!
We absolutely love your new, bright packaging and your team of Snactivists, how do they help to spread the word about your fruit Jerky?
Thank you! The packaging was inspired by the idea of a helping hand, which holds the saved fruit, and was designed by a brilliant designer called Hannah Meur. Snactivism is what our brand is all about. It’s a simple idea – one snack equals one act, and so every time you have a little fruit jerky, you are making a positive step towards a better food system. We often encourage Snactivists to share their finds with us on social media – photos of wonky fruit and veg, or to share other ways in which they act on food waste – it’s always an
Any new flavours or products up your sleeve for 2016 and beyond?
Yes! glad you asked! We are very excited to launch a new flavour as early as April. We worked on developing it with some of our most loyal customers, so it’s been tried and tested. We’re confident people will like it! We’re also in the process of developing fruit & veg flavours and we are looking into completely new products from other kinds of surplus, but can’t say much more about that yet – watch this space!
Where can our readers buy SNACT from?
Our online shop (snact.co.uk/shop) delivers worldwide, so it’s really the best bet regardless of location. But if you happen to be in London, there’s a wealth of independent outlets that stock fruit jerky and increasingly we’re spreading out across the UK as well. We usually share those on our social media channels so that’s the best place for updates!
Thrive readers can get 15% off all SNACT fruit jerky – simple visit www.snact.co.uk/shop and use the code THRIVE to claim your discount (Offer valid until 31/05/16)