Chichester company's healthy snacks continue to combat food waste - but what's next for the trailblazing business?

"The potential is limitless which is the exciting thing from our point of view."

A Chichester business, which is turning fresh fruit destined to be thrown away into healthy snacks, is already looking at how the idea can be developed further.

Using a 'unique process', the founders of Squished – part of the Chichester Food and Drink Company – make a range of rescue fruit snacks including Energy Balls, Flapjack Bites and Fruit Tangles.

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At a new production plant in Vinnetrow Road, Runcton, these snacks are made from the annual £1.2bn of surplus fruit that doesn’t meet the exacting supermarket standards.

Squished's air drying process takes the water out of fruit to ensure that it doesn't spoil. Photo: Steve Robards

One of the main men behind the project, Paul Mcculloch, said: "We have developed proprietary technology that is very sophistic in air-drying food.

"We had a conversation with the Summer Berry Company about how much surplus waste they were producing. Some berries were too big, some too small and some were being offered to supermarkets at wrong time when they had too much.

"They were frustrated by this as there is a lot of noise about food waste and its impact on the planet."

Paul said there was a 'lightbulb moment' for the Chichester Food and Drink Company, adding: "We thought there was something we could do."

Simon Smith, founder and director of Squished - part of the Chichester Food and Drink Company

Squished's air drying process takes the water out of fruit to ensure that it doesn't spoil.

Initially, the idea was trialled with surplus strawberries before they moved on to blueberries.

"We are turning a berry, which would spoil within about four days, into something that can last for 14 months," Paul said.

"It keeps the nutritional benefit in the fruit leather.

"We spent a good year trialling this as we are quite evangelical about solving this problem.

"One berry grower throwing away approximately 600 tonnes of perfectly good berries is obviously a challenge to us."

Thanks to a grant from Coast to Capital, Squished built a factory in Runcton to start making healthy fruit snacks.

Paul added: "The rest of the funds came from the company and shareholders. We took a calculated risk as the product is not easy to produce.

"The amount of fruit we put in is 50 per cent. That equates to about 50 real blueberries.

"The fruit tangles are for the kids market. It's put through tagliatelle machine.

"Blueberries have a sweetness to them that kids absolutely adore. There's a real health benefit and we've found a way to make it fun."

Company spokesperson Oliver Rudland added: "We want to put an end to food waste but unless you've got a product that tastes absolutely delicious, you've got nothing.

"I've not had anyone say 'it's not for me'. It's perfectly good fruit all destined to be wasted."

The business said the possibilities from the venture are 'limitless'.

"Our technology can also be moved to fruit fields in Spain, for example," Paul said. "We are turning surplus rescue fruit into something manageable.

"It can be made into jam, once the brand gets recognised.

"We are running trails with an ice cream company and working with raspberry brownies, which are absolutely delicious.

"We have trialled vegetables but it's not our focus at the moment."

Paul said a lot of people are now looking for products that are 'ethical and organic', adding: "People are beginning to want that from their brands. Not just 'it's covered in chocolate and tastes nice'."

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