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Freeze-Dried foods growing in popularity with local business Permafrost Snacks

'It was instantaneously popular; so much so that we couldn’t keep up with the online sales. Within a month we bought a second freeze dryer'

“Jobs of the Future” is a series focusing on career paths, local job opportunities, programs, and tales of success that highlight North Bay's diverse job market.  

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If you’re looking for a new tasty treat to try, Permafrost Snacks can offer you something different.

The mother-daughter team of Lauri-Ann Pearson and Jessi Young are selling freeze-dried snack foods.

“We take all kinds of fruits and vegetables and snacks and treats,” says Pearson.  

“It completely changes the foods texture and their shape, and the flavour stays the same, only slightly amped up a little bit because there is no moisture in them anymore. Most things develop a light airy crunchy texture, so a strawberry still tastes like a fresh raw strawberry, but it is more wafer-like, and it basically dissolves in your mouth.”

Pearson says starting the business was a bit out of character personally.

“I am not a business-minded person whereas my daughter Jessi was always looking for that next idea or opportunity,” she says.  

“My answer always seemed to be no, but for some reason, I said yes to this. I am a stay-at-home mom and my daughter at the time was on maternity leave and it was during the COVID-19 pandemic where we were supposed to be staying home, so it was also a matter of ‘what else do we have to do right now?’”

Pearson says the idea came up from a Father’s Day gift.

“My daughter bought her boyfriend a subscription box of freeze-dried treats for Father’s Day and they loved them. In order to repurchase some freeze-dried items, they had to be shipped from the USA and it was very expensive, so she asked me one day, ‘what do you think about going into business with me and doing a freeze-dried business?’ I uncharacteristically said ‘sure,’” says Pearson.  

“I’m not a doer, I’m more of a thinker and I don’t normally say yes to stuff like that but I just thought about the worst-case scenario, I’m doing something with my daughter.”

Pearson says they jumped in with both feet immediately and bought their first freeze dryer in May of 2021.

“We started putting things in and selling things on Facebook and it was instantaneously popular; so much so that we couldn’t keep up with the online sales. Within a month we bought a second freeze dryer.”

Pearson adds, “We knew we were on to something and we just decided to keep running with it until there’s nothing left to do and it has been steady going ever since.”

Pearson says the freeze dryers are at her daughter's home in North Bay while she does all the prep work at her home in Trout Creek.

“I chop, peel, cut, slice, and freeze all the produce and I bring it to my daughter in coolers and she loads it into the dry freezer. When they are done, we re-package and label them and then we remarket them as a freeze-dried product.”

While they continue to do online sales Pearson says they have also taken advantage of some in-person marketing.

“We got on with a few of the area Farmers Markets including Powassan and Mattawa and Parry Sound. Word of mouth got around and that’s when people like the Beer Baroness Society reached out to collaborate on different events,” she says.

“The local farmers' markets are phenomenal because you get people that aren’t from around here that are camping our touring and looking to get a taste of that local scene and they happen to stumble upon our booths.”

Pearson says most of the sales have been local, but being online means they can market their product anyone and anywhere

“We have recently sent some to Welland and the East Coast. We’re also shipping to Latvia now since my cousins’ husband is in the military and stationed there and they tried our products the last time they were in town. It’s been getting out there for sure,” she says adding that their products are now in a local store.

Krause Farms Food and Feed in Powassan picked up on it and they are now selling our products and so it all became quite a bigger deal very quickly.”

Pearson says the fact that it was new and different has also helped with the popularity of the products.

“Most people have never tried it before. You hear people refer to it as “astronaut food” but they’ve never tried it and so because it was different people thought ‘let's just give it a try,’ and it wasn’t a crazy idea like crickets or something they literally may have never eaten, so people were more apt to try it and people were surprised that they liked it because again its fruit or a snack they have had before.”

She adds the snacks are popular with people from varying age groups.

“It doesn’t seem to matter what the age group is, people generally like it. One thing that helped start it was a video on TikTok showing freeze-dried skittles and that snack became popular with the younger customers and so that certainly helped as people were looking for that product.”

Pearson says she’s proud of what they have accomplished in a short time.

“It just seemed like the perfect storm where all the pieces just came together and after a year of lockdowns, I guess we were both bored and looking for something different. I noticed that people were hoping to connect with other people again and I think that’s what pushed us to do this.”

If you have a story idea for “Jobs of the Future” send Matt an email at m.sookram@outlook.com.





Matt Sookram

About the Author: Matt Sookram

Matthew Sookram is a Canadore College graduate. He has lived and worked in North Bay since 2009 covering different beats; everything from City Council to North Bay Battalion.
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