The right blend

fruity creations that ‘merritt’ public acclaim, a hit at bmex

by Latoya Burnham

A Masters in Food Technology and Quality Assurance was all Crystal Merritt needed to give birth to Nfuze.

And yesterday on the last day of BMEX, the producer of local fruit flavoured alcoholic beverages could hardly keep up with the demand as people kept coming for samples as well as orders of everything from the fruity drinks to the cream liqueurs.

“We are less than a year. The whole concept behind it is that we tend to do a lot of fusions, mixes and blends with respect to our natural wines. We are also doing cream liqueurs and with the natural wines you can get flavours such as tamarind spice, sour sop spice, mango passion, which is mango mixed with passion fruit; you can also get guava infused with ginger, golden apple infused with ginger and although we have been around for less than a year, we have over 15 flavours,” said Merritt.

Launched at the Food and Beverage Festival last year, Merritt explained that wine making was her hobby and with the knowledge she had from a degree in food technology, she took the process a bit further to explore what she could so.

It began as a love for creating wines from everyday fruits and something she would give away to friends and family, but she quickly realised the products were indeed good and furthermore there was a demand for more.

“As time went on, they encouraged me to take it a little bit further. So I did the product launch back in October. The response has been overwhelming and then I did Limegrove Fair in December, then Girlfriends Expo, Agrofest; so every chance I get, I take the opportunity to attend trade shows and make myself known for the exposure and also for sales.”

Pretty much a one-man show and not yet available in stores, Merritt said BMEX provided another avenue to get her name and the business out there and the response was pretty phenomenal.

Fruit cocktail and gooseberry wines were hot sellers at the Expo, along with her three flavours of cream liqueurs — original, mocha and chocolate mint.

She said too that since she finances all the aspects of production associated with the Nfuze, BMEX and other trade shows allowed her to “replace the money” she put in.

“The response is overwhelming. A lot of persons are inquiring as to where they can purchase the product, but since my volumes are so low, because this is still a hobby, I have a day job, I tend to spend time on weekends and late at night on the wines.

“Since my volumes are so low, I would not be able to get into the supermarkets but I’m working on it,” she said, adding that she was also personalising labels and offering the wines as alternative gift items.

She said because the demand was so great and she had been trying to increase production while still engaging her hobby, she was now in the process of streamlining her flavours and picking out the most successful of the batch on which to concentrate.

“I am going to pull out the most popular flavours and focus on those, because as I said it is just my one, so it doesn’t make sense trying here, there and everywhere; just pick out what people really, really like, because they do like all the flavours, but the most popular, I’m starting to focus on and increase that production.

“I want to take this to the next level, get them in the supermarkets, target hotels, I want to target tourists and lots of people. The most popular flavours are the mango passion, tamarind spice, gooseberry, jamun, and all three cream liqueurs are a hit,” she said.

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