Pook Coconut Chips honored for innovative spirit
It took the owner of small German-based company Pook Coconut Chips a while to figure out the market for her products. Thai expat Kanokporn Holtsch, known affectionately as “Pook,” said her success came, in part, from taking the time to really understand the European market.
In Thailand, for instance, people like spicy food, she said, but spicy products are not a good fit for the European market.
“They (Europeans) like something nice and soft, but no sugar,” she said. “Or something more healthy.”
“There were a lot of details we had to think about,” she continued.
That thoughtfulness paid off when Pook Coconut Chips won the top spot at this year’s Fruit Logistica Innovation Awards.
“It means a lot to me,” she said. “Actually, I didn’t expect it. It’s a big surprise. Until now, I still can’t believe it.”
Holtsch said knew she wanted to do something with coconut from the start. She began by taking a close look at what was already on the market. After visiting several countries and seeing similar products, she came to the conclusion that she could improve on what was already out there.
“What makes us different is that we produce from fresh coconuts from the farm,” said Holtsch.
After opening the coconuts, it takes only 2-3 hours to get to the processing factory. Production and packaging is done immediately in Thailand. Product is then shipped to the EU.
For Holtsch, it was important that her customers enjoy the product like a healthy snack, not as an unhealthy sweet treat. For this reason they don’t use too much flavoring.
“I want the customer to enjoy the flavor slowly,” she said. “They don’t have to take one bite and a second bite and then say they have had enough.”
Pook Coconut Chips are vegan, gluten free and baked without additional oil. It took Holtsch four months to develop the products. She hopes that the award will help her to further develop the business.
“I hope that we can grow in the European market and I think this award is going to help me a lot,” she said.
Three more innovative processors
Pook Coconut Chips wasn’t the only innovative product come out this year. There have been advancements in areas that ranged from new marketing ideas and technological innovations to novel packaging concepts and convenience products.
Italian company Turatti has a newly developed piece of technology, the Malver, an electromechanical unit that automatically peels pitted and halved mangoes. Malver has a capacity of 48 pieces per minute. According to the company, the machine is easy to operate and maintain, and can be easily integrated with a pitting system, creating a more integrated processing line. Malver processes all varieties of mangoes and can even be used with softer product.
Belgian company Alberts created the Alberts Smoothie Station. A vending machine that uses frozen fruit and vegetables to make 100 percent natural smoothies without added sugar, Alberts Smoothie Station was a big hit at the exhibition.
The machine has a self-cleaning system; cup size is adjustable. There are no restrictions on types or sizes of fruit and vegetables. Alberts Smoothie Station is capable of taking payments and collects data on customer preferences.
Another unique entry in the market is the Wasabi Giftbox from Dutch company East4Fresh. The gift box itself, made of untreated wood, contains 40 or 60 grams of fresh wasabi rhizome and a stainless-steel rasp for grating onto dishes. Wasabi is a popular spice in Asian dishes. What makes this innovation particularly popular is that it uses fresh product, which is difficult to find.
– Melanie Epp, contributing writer