Snacks are a deeply personal thing. Some people want the salt and fat of a bag of Doritos, while others crave sweets like chocolate and cookies. But there’s a snack you may not have tried, which combines salty and sweet naturally – the humble plantain chip.
The Rise of Plantain Chips
Healthier than potato or tortilla chips, plantain chips are having their cultural moment because they carry far less sodium and when consumed in moderation, can be a snack that’s part of a healthier diet. People across the globe love plantain chips, and now, we’re seeing them on the shelves everywhere, and some of those bags, ePac might have even helped package them.
Nana Adjoa’s Journey: From Idea to Business
Recently, we connected with one of the customers we’re excited about, Nach Fresh Fields Enterprises, who are making their plantain chips. We spoke with Nana Adjoa, the owner, and heard her story of how her idea sprang from a simple question to a full-blown business spreading across her home country of Ghana, one bag at a time.
“Back in 2019, we used to buy a lot of plantain chips for our four school-aged children. One day, my husband asked the simple question, ‘We’re investing so much in plantain chips; what can you do about it?’ I considered his question and and decided to try making them at home. The first time it didn’t go too well. The chips were soft and soggy. Nobody was interested. I tried again, and that time it was better than the first.”
The Influence of Nana’s Children and Their Friends
And because Nana stuck with it, she eventually found the beginning of the recipe she was looking for, “I tried a third time but used a different procedure. I wanted to try something else, so I added lemon juice; it didn’t taste too good, but it was crispy. Next, I added ginger paste; that one came with a spicy smell, but it was good, and the texture was nice. I developed the recipe and gave the chips to my children.”
Nana was mindful of how her chips tasted, but also how they had to have just the right amount of mouth feel, so that they couldn’t be too hard.
“When I started giving my children the chips, I realized that, even though they liked them, they also complained, saying the chips were too hard. I considered what I could do to make a softer chip for every tooth type, from toddlers to adults. I thought about my spice blend and how this could set Nach Fresh apart. I’m always thinking about what to do. How to make us different.”
Whenever Nana Adjoa’s kids went to school, their friends saw that their mom’s chips differed from everybody else’s, so they wanted to try them. “My children used to tell their friends, go tell your mother – my mother makes them, and she will make some for you.”
Once Nana saw how many of her kids’ friends wanted bags of her plantain chips, the light turned on: this was not only a way to save money every week but could also be turned into a business.
“There’s a small shop at the entrance of the school. I packaged small bags of chips and sold them there. It went so well. One day, a parent, who runs one of the local supermarkets approached me; he told me that his daughter brought some of my chips home.”
It turns out the supermarket manager loved the plantain chips so much, he wanted to stock them. And before Nana knew it, she was in the plantain chip business!
Nach Fresh: What Sets Their Plantain Chips Apart
But what set Nach Fresh plantain chips apart from the competition? Nana believes it’s her signature blend of spices.
“In Ghana, we have a beloved evening snack called Kelewele (fried plantain bites marinated in a ginger, onion salt, and chili paste). It’s delicious but it gets soggy.” Nana focused on improving the texture and getting away from the traditional method of deep frying kelewele’s in oil.
She’d asked herself a fundamental question, “What can I do to make kelewele healthier so that almost everybody can consume it? Let me try a dry version. My inspiration came from this traditional snack. If you’re a kelewele lover, with my chips you’re getting the flavor without the sogginess or the health implications.
About 70-80% of the oil or fat content is removed. Other people add powdered spices into whatever they’re cooking, and mine is done at the beginning of the cooking, so it’s infused into the flavors,” Nana said.
She didn’t stop there; she’s dedicated to seeing the brand of Nach Fresh evolve. “We come from small beginnings and want to see the brand grow into bigger shops and maybe even beyond Ghana.”
The Importance of Packaging: Finding the Right Solution
Nana knew what she wanted when it came to packaging for Nach Fresh, but it was a process, like all good things tend to be. “My first packaging was not too good. I was putting the chips in a clear plastic bag, folding the plastic and stapling it shut.”
Nana realized quickly that this method wasn’t sustainable, especially given her initial target market: kids. “Children are using this product, and the staples attached to the plastic bags weren’t safe at all. An accident could easily have happened. Somebody might have swallowed it. We decided to ask around and see how we could find better packaging. I was online exploring where and how I could get something to package it. I found this company who first did it for me from China. It was plastic and paper.”
Nana continued, “I don’t know what it was about the plastic, but when we put the chips in, they discolored, and the taste changed.” Nana was stuck for a moment. But not all hope was lost. “As an entrepreneur trying to develop myself, I heard of SMEtraining going in Africa [to help develop small businesses on the continent], so I enrolled.
ePac’s Role in Nach Fresh’s Packaging Success
During the training, I met a certain lady. I was discussing my product with her, how far I had come, and my challenges concerning the packaging. She told me, I know these people, ePac. They do packaging; they can help you.” And from a random meeting at a training session, a partnership was formed.
Nana contacted ePac, and before she knew it, was visiting our office in Accra,he left armed with plenty of sample packages which the ePac team had recommended. After taking measurements and looking at the materials, Nana had an idea of the packaging she always had in mind.
“ePac has been supportive and instrumental in the packaging I’m using; they helped me find someone to design and fine-tune my logo. I have the food information on the packaging and the analysis, with the amount of salt, fiber, and fat in the product. Velda from ePac pushed me to study further about my product because of her encouragement and influence. I went to CSIR (the Food Research Institute in Ghana), and I got the chips examined, and now I have the scientific figures of the chip’s nutrients.”
And the relationship between the two companies doesn’t stop there. “ePac has not just been instrumental with the packaging but also, marketing, marketing, marketing. Velda has done a lot to show me marketing strategies, and I’m thankful for her.”
Nana also hasn’t forgotten that woman she’d met on the train, “When people started complaining about the product changing color after three weeks in my old packaging, it was a mess. Meeting that lady, she was able to help me with that and I will forever be grateful. The packaging today has a different value. My products can compete. Everyone who sees the product is amazed at how it looks. ePac has really helped.”
It’s the stories like these we’re always excited to tell that a small conversation between parents can lead to the start of something beautiful. And after reading this, you’re eager to try some kelewele-flavored chips; you’re not alone; we are too.