Ape Snacks which produce a small range of delicious coconut curls as an alternative to crisps is owned by the youthful Zach Nathan. I took a few moments to ask Zack some questions :-You stated ape snacks at the age of 21. What inspired you to do this and do you come from a family of entrepreneurs?
We eat according to the paleo lifestyle in my family. Basically, it just means we avoid processed foods, excess sugar etc. One day in the summer before I was heading off to university in America, my mum took some coconut flakes, threw them in a pan with cinnamon and salt and toasted them up to utter perfection. All I could think about that summer was this snack!
Whilst at university in America I also started to notice that so many products that said they were “healthy” or “natural” still were pumped up full of sugar or fried in weird oils. I got really into the science behind nutrition and food systems and how that interplays with health and the economy and realised this needed to change. Long story short, I dropped out, found an incredible business partner, got some investment, found a factory and now we’re here!
Yes and no! Both my grandfathers started their own companies in a crazy chasm of fields (a chain of opticians, a school uniform manufacturer, a celebration card business and plenty more!).
How long did it take you to perfect coconut curls and how did you do it?
About 6 months. I started off trying to perfect my mum’s recipe in our kitchen, before working with a lauded food scientist to scale up production and bring the snacks to market.
What makes them so healthy and good for you?
It’s just coconut and seasoning! Quite literally! You get all the wonderful benefits of coconut (anti-microbial and anti-viral properties, healthy fats, high in fibre and lots of vitamins and minerals) without any other madness! They’re gluten free, are high in fibre, have NO added sugar and our seasoning doesn’t contain any hidden nonsense either 🙂
How do you plan to convince pubs to stock them as an alternative to crisps?
Once they taste them they realise they make an incredible bar snack! Pubs and bars sell drinks so they need salty/savoury snacks to make people thirsty. The size of the actual curls works perfectly in that sort of environment too. We actually have a few pub stockists coming on in the next few months, watch this space.
They are very tasty and moreish. Do any Thai restaurant buy them in bulk to serve as an alternative to prawn crackers?
Good question! We are in discussion with one large chain now. It’s all in the pipeline 🙂
What is the most inventive use of your products that you have seen?
Check out our instagram at @apesnacks! There are some seriously sweet photos up on there!
Have you ever tried to make a flavour to add to the slightly peppered and lightly salted which tuned out to be terrible?
Yes! For one flavour we were initially developing, we tried using apple powder to get the benefits of apple and to add a little sweetness and tang. It was beyond revolting – not our finest hour!
How many countries do you export to?
Currently three but there are others that pick up stock from some of our UK distributors. We soft launch into Finland later this summer too. Over the next 12 months we will be in a few more.
What is the best part of running ape snacks?
I get to meet incredible people and I get to learn amazing things!
I think the food industry is one of the toughest industries to crack. You’re taking an idea, then organic materials (seeds and water to grow your base ingredients), then you need to process that into a safe, stable and fast moving item, then you need to get it to a supermarket shelf and then you need to make consumers aware of it! There are so many facets so I think there are a lot of transferrable skills that can be used in other industries. It’s a really fantastic phenomenon.
What are your plans for the future?
Building out the team, new products, new listings and new markets!