Interview - Samantha Frost - Frances Strawberries
People often comment that strawberries “don’t taste like the used to”. Not so at Frances Strawberries where the fruit is in high demand. We spoke with owner Samantha Frost about what makes their strawberries so special and what they’re doing with them to create even more interest.
FFW: Who is behind Frances Strawberries?
FRANCES STRAWBERRIES: Myself and my husband Adam founded Frances Strawberries from nothing in 2016. We bought a paddock with a vision to produce for our local communities, fruit that tastes like real strawberries used to and also be fresh and not travelled for hundreds of kms. We originally were only going to produce fruit, then my kitchen could no longer handle the workload so we needed to build a packing shed. We built the shed with the idea of using it solely for packing. We added a coffee machine and offered coffee for those who came and purchased our fruit, until a local farmgate café closed down and there was an opening for an on-farm eating experience. That’s how the café was born!
FFW: Is yours a family owned business?
FRANCES STRAWBERRIES: Yes, it is; my husband Adam and our three children.
FFW: Where are you located?
FRANCES STRAWBERRIES: We are located at 27 Racecourse Rd, Frances, South Australia, on the Limestone Coast.
FFW: Do you use local ingredients?
FRANCES STRAWBERRIES: Yes, we do wherever possible. Obviously being a strawberry farm, we use all our own fruit in our strawberry products. For our granola, we try and purchase Australian products where we can.
FFW: What are the products you offer?
FRANCES STRAWBERRIES: Our preserve range is in the early stages of growth. Currently we offer Strawberry Jam, Dessert Sauce and a Strawberry Chilli Relish. In our frozen treats line, we offer Strawberry Paletas (whole fruit icy poles) and pots of Sorbet which are made with 77% whole strawberries. We then have our Granola which is toasted using rice malt syrup (making it almost fructose free) and olive oil, not cheaper vegetable oils. We are also in the process of developing further products.
FFW: What can you tell us about the quality of the ingredients you use?
FRANCES STRAWBERRIES: We use whole foods and natural ingredients. There are no colourings added to anything. A lot of the products were developed because I wanted my family to be eating real foods (JERF) and foods that weren’t highly processed and had lost all their goodness. You only need a little bit of our granola for breakfast as it keeps you full for longer because your body is breaking down the whole seeds and nuts.
FFW: What’s different about your Toasted Granola?
FRANCES STRAWBERRIES: It is made with rice malt syrup (a fructose-free sweetener) and olive oil, not processed vegetable oils. There are whole seeds, nuts, rolled oats, shredded coconut and cranberries.
FFW: What goes into your Strawberry Sorbet and Paletas?
FRANCES STRAWBERRIES: These are made using the whole fruit – apart from the green parts – lemon juice, vanilla extract, a little bit of sugar and water. They are 77% whole fruits.
FFW: Is your range suitable for gifting?
FRANCES STRAWBERRIES: We are always selling to those who are looking for a gift that is unique and people will find useful. We quite often package up gift hampers of our preserves and granola together. Our little 30ml range of preserves is great to pop in hampers for people to try. They usually come back for a bigger one! We have had several customers who were given something of ours and have had to come back for more, quite often from interstate.
FFW: How are foodservice businesses offering your products?
FRANCES STRAWBERRIES: We have local cafes using our strawberry jam as part of their menus, e.g. scones with jam and cream. We are currently sourcing 1kg buckets to cater to this market. Our granola is also being used in cafes and motels to offer to their customers as a breakfast option. Our dessert sauce is regularly used as a topping over many different dessert options. And our chilli relish is being used on burgers to offer something unique. After having one of our burgers with the relish on it, nine times out of ten they will buy a jar of the relish to take home!
FFW: Do you offer bulk foodservice quantities of your products?
FRANCES STRAWBERRIES: We offer our granola in bulk to local stores who like to sell to customers who bring in their own containers. This could be offered to sell in bulk with a minimum of 10kg ordered. We can also offer the jam and relish in 1kg buckets.
FFW: And what kinds of retailers sell your products in their stores?
FRANCES STRAWBERRIES: We have local cafes, fresh fruit and veg stores, Foodlands, IGAs and health food stores. We really feel our Paletas would be a great alternative in service stations or outlets that offer iced confectionery. Besides our frozen products, all our products are fantastic in many different styles of hampers.
FFW: How do you make it easy for customers to do business with you?
FRANCES STRAWBERRIES: We can definitely do mixed orders with low quantities. The only minimum order is on bulk granola, not packaged; that is a 10kg minimum. We can freight through either Australia Post or freight companies and quotes can be provided prior to shipment. Some point of sale material is currently being developed.
FFW: Will you be creating any other flavours or products?
FRANCES STRAWBERRIES: Yes, we are looking at many different variations to our products which we are really excited about. We will be looking at a nut free granola, fruit free granola and a chocolate granola. We are also exploring different flavours of our Paletas.
We are excited to be creating not only great strawberries, but a strong product line accompanied with a great on farm experience at our farm gate shop and café.