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NAERA™ SNACKS & RESPONSIBLE FOODS ICELAND
Responsible Foods was founded in 2019 with the idea of helping consumers not only feed their mouths but feed their souls.
Founder, Dr. Holly T. Kristinsson (CEO) and husband, Dr. Hordur G. Kristinsson (COO) feel that there is no better way to do that than with Icelandic food.
Dr. Holly T. Kristinsson, originally from Alaska, has lived in multiple areas in the USA and often found herself missing the natural Alaskan foods she enjoyed growing up with. After moving to Iceland, she was amazed by the food, specifically the dairy and seafood.
As a food scientist with personal food passions, she set out to present Icelandic food in a way that has never been done before. Like many, Holly has struggled with food allergies and digestive challenges throughout her life and has had trouble finding suitable snacking options. Icelandic dairy made her feel great, which was a stark contrast to American dairy, which she often couldn’t eat.
Hordur and Holly are committed to helping people find ways to nourish themselves with protein, vitamins and minerals through options that are not only healthy, but provide an amazing eating experience. Næra™ snacks is their way to help consumers feed their body and soul while eating with a good conscience.
USING REV™ SINCE:
Icelandic Fish Crunch Snacks, Icelandic Cheese Crunch Snacks, and Icelandic Skyer Crunch Snacks.
Keto, No Added Sugar
Holly Kristinsson and Hordur Kristinsson sat down with EnWave to talk about their journey from ideation to launching Næra™ snacks through the use of REV™ technology.
Changing consumer trends and evolving eating habits influence which products are brought to market. How do you see the food landscape shifting?
We predict that consumers will become even more sophisticated and will seek authentic healthy snacks. We believe they will seek clean, sustainable, raw materials made in eco-friendly ways to fuel their day and adventures.
This is exactly what we offer in our products. Snacking frequency has steadily been going up and will become an even more important part of our daily food routine.
The pandemic has accelerated the trend even more for healthy snack food products. The buying behaviors around the world are also changing, with e-commerce of food becoming more common and buying directly from small companies producing snacks from local sources.
You both feel strongly about creating sustainable products. Can you walk us through how this is woven into the ingredient choices for Næra™ Snacks?
We both grew up in pristine environments, Alaska and Iceland, and believe in being kind to the environment and enjoying clean sustainable foods. We both have years of experience in how to create high-value ingredients from underutilized resources, or resources that could be better utilized in ways to create higher-value products.
Food waste is one of the largest challenges our food system faces today. Shifting food production to be made more sustainable and to support local food companies and society is critical. This also lowers the carbon footprint. Companies can always make improvements and we want to lead by example. In addition, our products are made with 100% renewable energy.
Additionally, we hold true to the authentic Icelandic skyr and cheese that come from a preserved Viking cow breed from over 1,100 years ago. Our seafood snacks will come from Icelandic seafood that is sustainably harvested (wild caught and/or aquaculture).
How did you begin your search for a way to make your product shelf-stable? What technologies did you evaluate that could help provide you with processing solutions? What were you looking for?
We had experience with freeze-drying and traditional methods of drying so we knew that those methods would not provide a result in quality or texture that we were looking for.
I (Holly) worked in the dried snack food industry and learned of EnWave at a tradeshow years ago. I was so eager to apply it over the years and after being reinvigorated by Icelandic sustainable foods, I thought that EnWave Technology would be a great fit and so the journey began.
There are many major advantages to the REV™ system that fit our snack mission. Processing speed, the gentle, low-temperature drying, the amazing textures we get with the machine and the versatility (tray and basket systems).
EnWave’s expertise and guidance with prototype and concept work through prototyping and samples were key to gaining interest and investment. We were also able to test our ingredient and formulation compatibility. EnWave is a great partner for us and the R&D team is always willing to help out when needed.
When it came to the formulations, and production of Næra™ Snacks, where did you start?
We started our research and development with concepts and ingredients from Iceland. We were able to test these concepts at the EnWave Innovation Centre in Canada and then established our own production facility in the Iceland Ocean Cluster in the heart of the picturesque harbour of Reykjavik, Iceland.
REV™ technology is revolutionary and different, so it compliments this mindset and we look forward to launching new products utilizing this distinct technology.
A bonus to the technology is how amazingly fresh the products taste. For example, we can for the first time make seafood snacks that taste fantastic but have no fishy smell. This is not possible with traditional drying technologies.
We started with a 2 kW machine in the EnWave Innovation Centre and Pilot Plant before scaling up to the 10 kW. We really started the key product development work when the 10 kW unit arrived at our facility in Iceland.
When you were in the development stages what challenges did you come up against?
RESPONSIBLE FOODS :
Funding was a key hurdle. We were very fortunate to apply for various local government R&D funds to supplement our own funding. We were also able to provide prototypes to help people understand our product concept.
The Technology Development Fund (Tækniþróunarsjóður) helped to jump-start our R&D efforts. Other funds have significantly helped us including the Farm Fund (Framleiðnisjóður), and the Food Fund (Matvælasjóður).
Icelandic ingredients and raw materials are very unique and at times, we could not always test Icelandic raw material and ingredients in Canada during the prototype stage.
The Icelandic raw materials we work with are very unique in their protein structure and they behave much differently in formulations than raw materials from other countries. This is very much to our advantage.
For instance, the Viking cows are a breed that have been preserved for 1,100 years. They are not treated with antibiotics or hormones and the milk proteins have been shown to be less allergenic and have a unique composition of proteins.
Not to mention, Icelandic seafood is known for its incredible quality throughout the world and the freshness of the catch is a key to our amazing upcoming seafood snacks.
What are you most excited about for Responsible Foods in the coming years?
RESPONSIBLE FOODS :
We are modern entrepreneurs and we hold tight to the spirit and fearlessness of an Icelandic start-up. With Responsible Foods, you will never know what comes next. We are not afraid to push the envelope to meet consumer trends, tastes, health goals, and snacking imaginations.
We look forward to bringing smiles, a better-for-you-living, and the opportunity to provide global consumers with a better way of snacking. We want to give them the best of Iceland with amazing dairy and seafood in an entirely new shelf-stable, crunchy, fun and delicious format.
We’re also looking forward to seeing Næra™ products on the market. Offerings span various consumer needs, whether it be high protein, lactose-free, keto, gluten-free, peanut-free or preservative-free. They’re a good snack throughout the day, either at work, before or after a workout, and even a fun snack at night. They’re a versatile and convenient way to snack!
Find more info about Responsible Foods and Næra™ Snacks at www.naerasnacks.com