Kent manufacturer enjoys fruits of labour

Posted on 3 Nov 2015 by Victoria Fitzgerald

Nimisha Raja will officially launch Nim’s Fruit Crips’ factory this week, offering a healthier alternative to crisps and chocolate.

Kent entrepreneur, Nimisha Raja has invested more than £300,000 into setting up a new production facility in Sittingbourne, with ambitious plans to offer children and parents across the world an alternative to unhealthy snacks that seem to dominate supermarket shelves.

Nimisha Raja, managing director, Nim’s Fruit Crisps.
Nimisha Raja, managing director, Nim’s Fruit Crisps.

Backed by support from manufacturing experts at the Business Growth Service, the former coffee shop owner has spent the past eighteen months identifying the right site and equipping it with specialist equipment needed to produce hundreds of thousands of kilos of air dried fruit crisps every year.

Fruit washers, slicers, peelers, an advanced drying machine and full packaging facilities are now in place, and eight people are in the process of being recruited.

Raja explained: “I never thought this day would come, but it’s great to know that we have full control of our production, quality and distribution.

“We’d previously been told not to manufacture in the UK and sourced a partner in Eastern Europe to help with our initial launch. However, a number of timing and quality issues and the cost of transport meant this was never going to be a long-term option.”

She continued: “There wasn’t anyone suitable domestically that I could sub-contract with so I had two options. Shelve the idea or do it myself…needless to say it didn’t take long for me to make my decision.”

The Business Growth Service worked with Raja on the initial layout of the factory before funding a specialist consultant to fine tune workflow and identify the right equipment.

Ian Pateman (Business Growth Service) and Nimisha Raja (Nim’s Fruit Crisps).
Ian Pateman (Business Growth Service) and Nimisha Raja (Nim’s Fruit Crisps).

It also advised on staffing and how to find the right people to fit the manufacturing needs and culture of the business.

This strategic support will soon be followed by advice on marketing so the company can agree sales channels both at home and overseas.

Raja continued: “Going from running a coffee shop to setting up your own factory is quite a daunting prospect.

“It was great having experts who I could regularly turn to, in order to sanity check my decisions, ask about manufacturing processes and ensure we complied with all food production requirements.

“This is exactly what the Business Growth Service did for us and we are now in the position to manufacture more than 40,000 packets of fruit crisps every week and the ability to more than double that figure when required.”

She added: “Importantly, I get to realise my dream of offering children and adults a healthy alternative snack that tastes great and is actually good for you.”

Nim’s currently offer air dried fruit crisps, including:

  • apple
  • kiwi
  • mango
  • melon
  • pear
  • pineapple
  • orange
  • strawberry

With plum, watermelon and broccoli currently in development.

Sealed in foil packets to maintain the crunch and freshness, the snacks taste of actual fruit and contain enough nutrients to make each pack one of your 5-a-day, as licenced by the Department of Health.

The firm, which will shortly be looking for BRC accreditation, has also been approached by cereal manufacturers about producing dried British fruits for use within their products.

Business Growth Manager Ian Pateman commented: “Nimisha has created a truly state-of-the-art fruit drying factory, right here in the Garden of England.

“She now controls the full production of Nim’s fruit crisps and has the platform to increase volumes when required and innovate the range to introduce new flavours.

“There is definitely a market for her healthy snacks and interest is already emerging from international distributors in America, China and Europe.”

Nim’s Fruit Crisps has a three-year business plan that will see it hit £3m turnover and this will involve the recruitment of another seven people, including two apprentices.