An East Midlands organisation that supports new developments in the food and drink sector is backing a firm’s plan to launch the first fruit-based salsas of their kind in the UK.

The Food and Drink iNet (Innovation Network) has awarded £2,250 Innovation Advice and Guidance funding to support development of Purple Pepper Fruit Salsas.

The four salsas have been created by Carron Smith, who runs outside catering company Cookies of Oakham. After winning an award for her initial product development of Purple Pepper at the Food and Drink iNet Innovation Awards 2010, Carron is moving towards the official launch of the products.

Now she’s working with experts to find a way of maximising the shelf life of the salsas and is looking at the best packaging for her products.

The iNet, which links academic and private sector expertise and knowledge with local food and drink business innovation needs, has granted funding to help Carron work with food technical experts at Nottingham Trent University. Cookies of Oakham is match funding the support.

“Since the products are made using only fresh and raw ingredients and there’s no cooking involved, challenges exist in extending shelf life sufficiently to produce a commercially viable product,” said Carron, who lives in Glenfield, Leicester.

The Nottingham Trent University experts will help her to determine the best ways for her salsas to be packaged to ensure that they have maximum shelf life.

“The iNet has been absolutely fantastic through all of this,” said Carron. “I couldn’t have done it without their support and without the support of Diana Thraves and Mike Dixon at Nottingham Trent University.”

Carron hopes that her Purple Pepper Fruit Salsas will be launching by the end of August – initially for sale to local delis and farm shops, and via food fairs. In the future she hopes to be selling the products direct to customers online.

Richard Worrall, Food and Drink iNet director, said: “One of the main functions of the Food and Drink iNet is to support the development of promising new products, and Purple Pepper Fruit Salsas fitted the bill perfectly. Carron has sought the advice of experts from concept through to development, and we are pleased to support her as she embarks on the final stages before product launch.”

The Food and Drink iNet, which is funded by East Midlands Development Agency (emda) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), is one of four regional iNets that operates across the region. It has a pot of finance available this summer to provide match-funded support for eligible projects, which could be focusing on new products, accessing new markets or looking at new ways of working.

The Food and Drink iNet aims to build on the tradition of innovation in the food and drink industry in the region by helping to create opportunities to develop knowledge and skills, and to help research, develop and implement new products, markets, services and processes. It is managed by a consortium, led by the Food and Drink Forum and including Food Processing Faraday, Nottingham Trent University, the University of Lincoln, and the University of Nottingham. For more information visit

For more information please contact the Food and Drink iNet on

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