What began as making nutritious and healthy snacks for their children three years ago has resulted in Joanne Edwards and Taine Randall scooping up a major win at the 2016 New Zealand Food Awards.

"Last year we got in as finalists for two of our lines but this is our first big win," said Ms Edwards, who is a director of Hastings-based Kiwigarden.

"I was stunned - I wasn't expecting it at all so it was a genuine surprise."

The judges gave the top nod in the coveted Foodbowl Novel Ingredient category to Kiwigarden's new coconut raspberry yoghurt drops product at the Auckland-based event which celebrates the best of the best within the New Zealand food industry.


"We all went up for the awards so this is really nice for the whole team and I'm really delighted for them because they work so hard."

Ms Edwards described the winning freeze-dried snack as a "classic combination" which they developed for their new yoghurt drop range which uses 100 per cent natural ingredients "with no added nasties".

She said the freeze-drying technique ensured they could lock in virtually all the nutrients found in the raw ingredients.

"Unlike conventional drying methods which tend to deplete the nutritional goodness in the raw ingredient, freeze drying is a gentle process that only removes the water from the ingredients, leaving us with a highly nutritious snack."

She said the family had been among the pioneers in freeze drying in New Zealand, developing the technology over more than 30 years.

"It gives us access to this state-of-the-art freeze drying facility, the largest one in the southern hemisphere."

The couple saw the potential in the market for healthy convenience snacks and started out using farmers' market yoghurts and local fruit and vegetables to create the first snacks.

Expansion had followed and Ms Edwards said there were some "quite exciting developments" in the pipeline.

"We are working through things."

The Kiwigarden snacks are now available in more than 150 stores nationwide and are now also distributed across Australia, China, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan.