Article by: Hari Yellina
With its Chippy Apples product, a Victorian food production company is promoting a balanced diet and decreasing the waste of fresh produce. The improvement of nutrition in youngsters, who are known for being “picky eaters,” is the company’s primary focus, according to Phil Gomizel, managing director of Pipan Foods, who has a history in food manufacturing. He said that children in particular “really enjoy” it. “That was a major deal for me because my previous company dealt with nutrition, and we even exported goods to Asia. As a result, when I first tried the Chippy Apples, I had no doubts that youngsters would adore them and that we could serve them as a snack in family homes. We have not seen many objections from youngsters testing it because they are much more likely to eat processed food than fresh fruit and vegetables. We are already providing through companies that give kids’ lunch boxes and are getting a terrific response. We use subpar apples, which are typically accessible all year long. We mainly work with Pink Lady apples, but we may also use local juices or grade two or three apples. A lot of apples have been wasted, especially this year.”
The idea was born after one of Phil’s close friends who was a farmer lost his property to weather and decided against entirely rebuilding it. So he started looking for other options, and through a family connection with a Taiwanese picker working in Australia, he learned about vacuum drying. They believed the technology was wonderful and invested in it after visiting the highly skilled technician in Taiwan, according to Mr. Gomizel. He called me and said, “I’ve produced this product but don’t know how to sell it. That led to a small pilot plant to be built during COVID. Therefore, we developed a brand and a strategic strategy to introduce it and increase manufacturing. Chippy Apple was initially sold just in the apple flavour. After that, we wanted to launch a couple more flavours, so we added a light cinnamon flavour.
In order to develop new apple products, we have also created a prototype flavouring machine. We are currently researching a variety of “hot sauce” apples, including wasabi, on which we are just about to complete our research and development. The company has already considered growing and entering other produce lines after introducing the apple products, such as pears, mandarin, mangoes, and bananas, but that requires continued research and development effort. We can create some delectable snacks that aren’t easily accessible on the market, but what we really need to figure out is how to balance the seasonal fruit supply chain. How do we maintain continuous manufacture of goods that only increase in demand for a few months out of the year?” he asked.
We have plans to either build another large facility or smaller facilities close to the fruit supply once we reach our maximum capacity, which is predicted to happen in the next 18 to 24 months based on our facility’s expected operating rate. One important feature of the product, according to Mr. Gomizel, is that it is 100% fruit, with no added sugar or preservatives. The apples are simply cored, cut, and dried in two stages, according to Mr. Gomizel. The initial drying process lasts for 24 hours as you would for any fruit. Then it enters our vacuum dryer, which bakes the product at a low temperature and very low pressure of about 70 degrees.
We use four compact ovens, which is a very effective method and the most energy-efficient method of all the baking methods. The apple slice is immediately placed in the packaging after having all of its moisture removed, leaving only 0.1 percent. It’s really popular. There is no oxidation or cooked apple flavour because it is crispy, crunchy, and preserves all of the apple’s natural sweetness. We are very interested in knowing more about this technology because it gives people additional choices for their fruit and vegetables. He continued by saying that the business is also focusing on the packaging, which is now recyclable through the “REDcycle Program,” but efforts are being made to develop a compostable foil. There are plans to pitch the product to the big supermarkets in the coming months after Pipan Foods recently struck a national distribution agreement that will make the product available in over 400 locations across Australia. In order to support production and research into product extension using the Birchal platform, there is now a crowdfunding page.