After conducting online research of baby food companies in South Africa, we were thrilled (but not surprised) to learn that Orchard Foods is South Africa’s 1st 100% Natural, Frozen & Halal baby food company in South Africa, says Dhrupal Amin, co-owner of Orchard Foods.
We are also delighted at being the first commercially available natural and frozen baby food product in South Africa. Whilst there are a number of frozen baby food providers in the country, these primarily consist of home industry businesses that service local communities from their kitchens. Being a pioneer in the frozen baby food space is a challenge as there is no recipe to follow (excuse the pun), from others before us. However it is a challenge that we accept and are creating a new segment in natural baby meals.
‘Well its quite simple really, we were receiving about 30 to 40 enquiries each month from Muslim consumers and became curious. When we engaged with the community, we were astonished to find out that traditional baby food products were not all Halaal. In fact it was mainly the vegetarian food products that were classified as halaal’ says Amin.
After further consultations with the Muslim community it became clear that Orchard Foods had no choice but to provide this community with a much needed solution. It is crazy to think that Muslim moms did not have a natural and halaal alternative to a home cooked meal, until now. In this day and age it is virtually impossible for moms (or dads) to provide home cooked meals everyday.
On 1 March 2016 Orchard Foods converted its entire manufacturing facility to a Halaal only facility. ‘This move has paid off for the Company, as our Muslim customers are assured of quality Halaal meals through a vigorous certification process. Not a single non-halaal product is allowed on the premises’ says Nikki Davies – the other co-owner of the business.
Why Natural and Why Frozen?
Anyone that is still asking why go natural has clearly missed the last 10 years of research on healthy development of babies and children. Everything as nature intended it, is part of our production philosophy. Instead of using flavourings, colourants and additives, we use herbs to promote natural flavour. Herbs such a bay leaf, basil. coriander, origanum and turmeric are used extensively in meals. Babies digestive systems are sensitive and developing, anything unnatural is sure to create an imbalance and be difficult for baby to process.
Freezing is a natural preservative. At temperatures of minus 18 and below, bacteria that are harmful to babies cannot grow or be sustained. So instead of using food preservatives that are unnatural we use fast freezing to preserve nutrition. We were amazed to find that fast freezing produced a higher nutritional content than from regular store purchased fresh vegetables. How is this possible though? Well consider that Orchard Foods obtain farm fresh vegetable (within 24 hours of picking), which we use in production immediately, after which they are fast frozen. So vegetables go from farm to jar within 48 hours.
When compared to store purchased vegetables, the average length of time it takes to get vegetables to store is between 4 to 7 days and in some instances this can be as much as 30 to 60 days (though the use of special packaging and refrigerated stores). So by the time consumers purchase it – potentially – 7 to 10 days have passed since being picked – this is where nutrients are lost.
Orchard Foods is clearly carving out a niche amongst moms that have a preference for natural meals, and now providing a real solution to the muslim community.
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