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NaturKidz Fruit Crispz

And the winner is! A few weeks ago I wrote about the Nelson medal winners at the annual Outstanding Food Producer Awards and said a new Nelson business, NaturKidz, was awarded four gold medals. Bonnie Slade, the founder of NaturKidz, has now picked up a top gong by being named Free-From Champion at the Outstanding Food Producer Awards. The business was also recently named as a Finalist in the 2024 FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) Business Product of the Year awards.

That’s a couple of astounding results for a business that only started selling its products a mere five months ago and has an initial focus on export sales.

NaturKidz’ website says they make a range of “honest, healthy and convenient kids’ snacks that kids will actually eat – because who actually has time to make all of the things, all of the time?! And most important, kids were actually thought of when inventing this yumminess.”

Founder Bonnie Slade and husband, Jason and Daugher Willa 9 at home in stairwell that inspired NaturKidz colours (Finn, 6 son absent)

To find out more I tracked down Bonnie to talk about the products, the business and her motivation for creating a range of healthy kids’ snack foods.

These snack packs consist of 100% natural fruit crisps that are made from fruit that is picked, sliced and dried without any additives and are designed as healthy snack food for kids.

Bonnie told me that the main inspiration behind setting up the business was a lack of this sort of healthy treat available for kids, especially in kid-size packs. “Then we saw an opportunity to use fruits that otherwise wouldn’t make to shelf due to imperfections and do something useful with it.”

But why hadn’t I heard about NaturKidz, after all it is an innovative Nelson product and I normally hear about these things. “I set it up as an export business rather than focusing on the local market for a number of reasons, but mainly because even when you get into decent sized retail stores in New Zealand the volume isn’t there and quite often neither is the margin.

“The volume sits in export markets and it’s a space I really enjoy working in so I set out to establish a successful food export business rather than just a local sales business. Of course, I need it to work here but the New Zealand market isn’t big enough to be successful, and I want to take amazing New Zealand products to the world.”

Bonnie went to Vietnam on the Prime Minister’s trade delegation a few years ago and has been working in the region for a while. “I think Asia is a really good market, often New Zealand brands go straight for places like Australia and the US but they are harder markets to break into than most realise. Countries like Vietnam are often overlooked but are really positive countries to work with. The middle class in Vietnam is growing in wealth and they want healthy products for their kids. We will be launching our products there at the end of May at the huge Viet Baby Trade Show.”

She has been working on this product for nearly a year and is in the market in Malaysia and Taiwan where her NaturKidz freeze-dried fruit snacks will soon be in 106 stores. “Their first order was a whole container.” In Taiwan she has taken the unusual step of working directly with the retailer, “it means I have a close relationship with them, their buyer came to Nelson a few weeks ago and got to taste fresh apples, blueberries and feijoas.

“We went to the organic feijoa and apple orchard where we get our fruit from, and he got to pick fruit directly off the tree and eat them, he was blown away by the experience and, even though they had already ordered the products, he got to see and taste beautiful Nelson fruit and understand where the flavours in the packs come from. It’s something he will never forget and hopefully will reinforce our place on their store shelves for years to come.”

Bonnie has a background in sales, strategy and marketing and has worked for a number of iconic Nelson food and beverage businesses, including the Nelson Mail, Chia Sisters, Kono and their Annies brand as well as for ad agencies in Auckland and Melbourne so she certainly has the skills to build a business, she just needed to find the right product.

“There’s a universal problem is finding a healthy snacks kids really like, something to grab and go, put in lunch boxes or have in the car and these are just fresh fruit freeze-dried using technology that retains nutrients and flavours. What was really important to me was to get the true flavour shining without any additives. I think the Nelson fruit and sunshine helps achieve that too.”

While the awards are fantastic Bonnie says the very best feedback is from kids and parents. “I wanted to create a healthy snack, and kids simply love them so that’s the real win for me.”

Being able to make award-winning products in Nelson from Nelson produce that otherwise wouldn’t have a home and take them to the world is pretty special. Buy NaturKidz Fruit Crispz online at or from selected retailers.

Published in the Nelson Mail 24.04.2024

I have been writing a regular wine column for The Nelson Mail newspaper since 2000.

Unfortunately the column space is not big enough to include my thoughts on all of the many wines I taste. Hopefully this blog will fix that. It also gives me somewhere to archive the many columns I write. I will also include some favourite recipes from my dearly beloved who loves cooking and of course because wine and food simply go together. I will also point you in the direction of upcoming events and websites I think are great. Enjoy, Neil

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