We at Paddy Pallin love good healthy food, especially when it’s delicious and perfect for taking on outdoor adventures. So naturally we were eager to learn more about a little local company who are producing healthy adventure food right here in Australia, Kooee Snacks. To get the low-down, we’ve put our classic Q&A questions to Andy Fist from Kooee.


Hi Andy, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and Kooee Snacks?

Sure. I’m Tasmanian, born and raised. At 18 I left for the “Big Smoke”. After 10 years living in Sydney, Sweden, Delhi, and New York, I moved back to Launceston to start— of all things— a beef jerky business. The company is called KOOEE! Snacks, and we make high-quality Tasmanian products that celebrate the freedom and awe of being in nature.

What is your role at Kooee Snacks?

In the early days, I was everything from the cleaner to the “CEO”. It was hard to keep things going without much help— once I had to sleep in the office just to keep the ovens running through the night. Not the most exciting place I’ve ever slept on a thermarest. Thankfully, KOOEE! has grown a lot since then.

The most important thing I do now is manage an incredible group of people. Oh and taste testing – it’s tough work, but someone has to do it!

When did you begin a relationship with the outdoors?

My dad passed his love of the outdoors on to me. Growing up, I spent my weekends sailing, kayaking, and camping with him. But, in a classic case of “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone”, I don’t think I really appreciated the beauty of the Tasmanian wilderness until I moved out of state. Now that I’m back, I’m making the most of it.

Do you remember your first outdoor experience?

I’m pretty sure I bagged a few summits in my dad’s baby carrier, but I’d be lying to say I remember them. The first clear memories I have are from my time in the Scouts: a sleepless night in a leaky tent, blindfolded bowlines, and custard “cooked” (i.e., burnt) on the campfire.

Where is your favourite location in Australia?

Hands down, Freycinet National Park on the east coast of Tasmania. I love the climb to Mount Amos. The view is fantastic—the summit overlooks Wineglass Bay.

Tell us, where is your dream location?

My favourite holiday to date was a trip from the Lofoten Peninsula in Norway north to Svalbard – polar bear country. My dream location would have to be to visit Antarctica and see what South Pole has to offer.

Why do you love the outdoors?

It’s good for the soul. It simplifies things. A weekend hiking proves that you don’t need the comforts of modern day life to be happy.

What key insights drive your products?

That people want products that are made without comprise. We only use the best ingredients, and employ an awesome team that spend a lot of time obsessing over the details.

 How much does being ‘Tasmanian’ influence Kooee as a brand and through the products?

KOOEE! is Tasmanian through and through, from the high-quality Tasmanian ingredients we use to our packaging. We are proud to use local grass-fed, free range beef in our jerky. The packaging for each flavour has an illustration of a different Tasmanian location: Shipstern Bluff, Wineglass Bay, Cradle Mountain, and Cape Pillar

What is the process & how many trials (taste tests?) do you go through before a new product goes into production?

The honest truth? We do as many trials as it takes. Once we develop a new flavour, we sample it at the local farmers’ market as quickly as possible. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is feedback from our customers. We gauge their reactions, tweak the recipe, and come back to sample it again. We do this week after week until we get it right.

Some of these trials are the stuff of KOOEE! folklore – Launceston still hasn’t forgiven us for the “obscene heat” edition of our habanero chilli flavour last year.

What are some current International trends that you have noticed within the outdoor &/or ‘adventure food’ industry?

Traceability is an important trend in food. People want to know where the ingredients come from, when it was made, and by whom. I think the day is coming soon when customers will be able to go online and see live video of their food being produced.

Another is the strong move away from carbohydrates (especially sugar), and increased comfort with animal fat. Suits us!

Which other brands and companies do you rate and why?

I admire businesses that really care about their employees. All managers have a responsibility to create a safe and fulfilling environment for their staff. It’s more than the right thing to do; it makes business sense too. Happy staff and happy customers allow a business to grow quickly.

While no business is perfect, I’ve been inspired by learning about the culture at Patagonia. Closer to home, I’ve heard many kind things about Huon Aquaculture, a big employer in Tasmania.

How to you see the future unfolding for locally produced “adventure food” in Australia?

I think the future is bright. On July 1, 2018, new laws will be enforced regarding a food’s “country of origin”. Brands will have to show where their products were made, and what percentage of the ingredients are Australian. I think these steps will increase demand for local products, and we hope these labels will also be recognised a sign of quality overseas.


Thank for taking the time Andy.

If anyone has not yet sampled Kooee’s delicious jerky – Check out the link below or head into your local Paddy Pallin store and grab a packet today!

SHOP KOOEE

 

About The Author

Lachlan Gardiner

Lachlan works as a freelance photographer, writer and videographer. He loves spending time in the outdoors whenever possible - be it hiking, mountaineering, climbing, or just being on the road - He'll take any excuse to get into the mountains! He also works in our Paddy Pallin store in Fortitude valley, Brisbane. Drop in and say hi!

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