Fenny fennel hearts

A ‘super’ fennel from Southern Italy is set to woo the UK fresh snacks market with its enhanced nutritional powers.

Backed by a marketing campaign promoting the veg as a Marvel comic-style hero, sliced and prepacked Fenny Hearts will come with a choice of optional condiments when they hit premium retailers later this year.

“Our ambition is to introduce a different way to taste and enjoy fennel, based on the natural product, freshly served,” said Salvatore Caputo, country sales manager for growers and processors La Gioventù, based in Pagani. 

The company has invested heavily in developing the new Fenny brand, including processing and handling systems to extend traceability and shelf life.

Grown year-round on 100 farms across Southern Italy selected for their mineral soils and climatic conditions, Fenny fennel is said to be particularly rich in heart-healthy vitamins and a range of other nutrients including potassium, calcium and phosphorous.

To preserve these nutrients, the fennel is hand-harvested at night and the bulbs are rinsed in an antibacterial washing system using water enhanced with ozone and added citric acid to prevent oxidation.

The fennel is then maintained at a constant 5C throughout to prolong shelf life. 

Fenny is already available as whole, individually QR-coded bulbs across Italy, where fresh fennel is popular served whole with salt and olive oil. Fenny Hearts snack packs were an attempt to popularise it in the UK, said Caputo.

“We know educating the customer to the real flavour and taste of a product is always a long journey, which is why we are working on several activities, including food fairs and road shows. 

“Many products weren’t well known to the majority of people a few decades ago - rocket salad for instance. But we believe that when a producer is capable of transmitting the characteristics and genuine-ness of the product, then success is solid and lasting.”

The Fenny Superpowers branding was designed to convey the “healthy and dietary powers” of fennel, he added.

The company has signed a deal with London-based specialist Italian home delivery and delicatessen supplier Nife Is Life and is currently in discussions with retailers.

It is also due to set up its own London-based import and distributor arm, Alto Fine Foods, within the next month.