New product offers healthy snacking option
Freeze-dried foods first became popular during the 1960s with the Apollo space missions and later gained popularity with campers and hikers. Rusty Justus is hoping to capture that popularity again with his new brand of freeze-dried fruit.
“The challenge is that this really is a new snack category,” Justus said. “It is a healthy snack, so we are trying to educate consumers about freeze-dried fruits.”
Freeze-dried fruit has the same nutritional value as fresh fruit and has no preservatives, Justus said.
After spending 30 years in the food industry working with produce, Justus was inspired by the food eaten by the astronauts and campers. In April 2006 he began Justus Foods and started research and development of his new brand of freeze-dried fruit product. The result is Today’s Farm.
“It took forever to come up with a brand name,” he said. “Today’s Farm was the only one out of thousands of names that was not taken. So I trademarked it. It just has a natural ring to it.”
Two types of fruits, cinnamon apple and strawberry, are on the market and have gained popularity with mothers and kids. The product is similar to the fruits found in dry cereals, Justus said.
“People’s first thought is it is going to be soft like dried fruit,” Justus said. “They are surprised by the crispy crunch of the product.”
Justus is continuing the process of developing new fruits and vegetables. In the near future he plans to launch his newest flavor, pineapple, followed by blueberry.
“I strive to be innovative and bring new items to the market,” he said. “I plan on expanding the fruits and move on to vegetables.”
He also plans to introduce his first foray into vegetables with freeze-dried sautéed onions this fall. Someday he hopes to branch out and create his own line of just-add-water, microwavable meals.
Justus and his vice president of manufacturing, Steve Stratton, operate the business out of a warehouse in Georgetown. To keep costs low, the pair works with just one other part-time employee and has found ways to operate with a lower budget.
Once they freeze dry the product off site, it is shipped to the warehouse for processing and packaging. Eventually it is sent to stores and other vendors across the country. Justus’ snacks are also available for bulk purchase on his Web site, www.justusfoods.com.
“We’ve had mothers tell us that they order our fruit by the case for their children, and they are so happy that their kids enjoy eating fruit,” Justus said.
Georgetown locations offering Today’s Farm products
- Gus’s Drugs
- Bar None Coffee Company
- Red Poppy Coffee Company (Georgetown Public Library)
- Inner Space Caverns
- City Lights Theater
- Sweet Serendipity
- Kidsports Gymnastics
- The Rattle Snake Inn (Florence)
- Red Onion Market (Round Rock)
Justus Foods, Georgetown, 868-5101 • www.justusfoods.com