12 Oct 2011

Fruit bars being exported to UK, Germany and US

10:45 am on 12 October 2011

Annies Marlborough is planning to take its fruit leathers to markets in Britain, Germany and the United States and has appointed people on the ground to pursue opportunities for exports.

The company was started as a cottage industry 25 years ago by Annie and Graeme Giles after Mrs Giles - who is now managing director of the company - was given a dehydrator for Christmas.

She initially experimented with left-over and overripe fruit from the local shop to produce fruit leathers and then expanded to take excess overripe fruit from others.

Initially the bars were sold from a shop near their farm, but Mrs Giles recalls how, as production increased, she would visit towns and cold-call on shops to get a market for her bars, so providing a new income stream to supplement the income from the farm.

About six years ago, the Giles visited their accountant to get advice on how to take the step beyond a cottage industry.

As a result they were introduced to the company's current executive board chairman who acted as a mentor and helped put plans in place that has seen Annies Marlborough grow significantly.

The company opened a purpose-built factory in 2005 and supplies major supermarket chains in New Zealand and Australia.

Employee numbers have grown in the six years from 10 to 80.