Matthew Bennett created Nibblish in 2015 after finding himself frustrated at what was available – or unavailable – to consumers at the time. “My daughter was born with various allergies,” he told SupermarketNews, “and when we tried to find good, healthy snacks with no nasty stuff in the supermarket we really couldn’t find anything.” Rather than despair, Matthew took matters into his own hands and decided to start making his own healthy snacks for his daughter, free from allergens and artificial ingredients. “We got creative in the kitchen and played around with various fruits. Friends started latching on to what we were doing, and it spiralled from there.”

Nibblish has gone from strength to strength in the subsequent years, now working with around 1000 small fruit growers around the world. “We support them and give them a market for their fruit,” said Bennett, who has noticed a quantum shift in public awareness when it comes to healthy eating, even in the last 3 years. “We don’t use chemicals to make our fruit look pretty,” he said. “I think 10 years ago consumers might have found that hard to accept but now when people ask why our fruit is a little darker or lumpy and we explain we didn’t add anything to it they instinctively understand it, accept it, and like the product all the more for it.”

Of course, Bennett’s commitment to a quality and additive-free product is not without its challenges. The development process was long and tedious, and even once he had perfected his manufacturing processes, there was still the problem of sourcing fruit good enough to serve without added flavourings or sugars. “We worked really hard to find quality growers in small corners of the world and we got really lucky with who we found,” Bennett told us. “We developed relationships with those people that have endured challenges along the way but have stood the test of time and blossomed into a thriving business.”

We asked Bennett what role sustainability plays in Nibblish’s business. “I don’t think you can make a healthy product now without also being aware of and making real progress to limit your impact on the environment,” he told us. “We have installed solar power and recycle all the water in all our sites around the world.” But Bennett doesn’t stop there – Nibblish recycles all its waste fruit product to fertilise the next crop, as well as utilising innovative generators which use methane from fermenting mangoes and pineapples to power sites. “We still have enough left over to fertilise the fields, but it means we are totally sustainable.”

Most tropical fruit, though, which forms the backbone of much of Nibblish’s range, is not growable within New Zealand; for now, Bennett has had to compromise when it comes to sourcing mangoes, pineapples, and bananas. “We do have a few things in the works,” said Bennett, “for a few of our best loved fruits. So, watch this space.”

These impressive solutions are all part of Bennett’s commitment to not only promote healthy eating, but to instigate a wider ethos of sustainable and socially responsible business. “Nibblish gives 10% of its profits to charity each year. Who we work with changes but it is a key part of who we are as a business and what we want Nibblish to stand for.”