Crunchy, tasty, and sustainable: Haus Freeze Dry's approach to food preservation
When Hazel Topçu, a 33 year old genetic engineer, moved to Thailand, she struggled to recreate the nutritional breakfasts she was used to in Türkiye. As she longed to bring her Turkish breakfast staples with her abroad, she got an idea which would simultaneously change the course of her life and introduce new avenues to reduce food waste in Türkiye.
The art of food preservation is no small feat. There are numerous ways to extend the shelf-life of food, but preserving its taste, appearance and nutritional value over time is complex. During her studies, Hazel had learnt of a preservation method which uses freeze-drying technology to preserve nucleic acids, such as DNA. This technology keeps their structure intact, with near-to-none deterioration. After conducting a series of experiments, she realised that this technology is equally applicable to food preservation. Thus, in 2017, Hazel established her startup Haus Freeze Dry, and became the first dry freezing food producer in Türkiye.
Haus Freeze Dry offers a variety of different food products, such as dried fruits and cheese, which can retain their flavour, appearance and nutritional value for years. Distributed in compact and light packages, Haus Freeze Dry’s products are perfect for travelling and consuming on the go.
From its inception, Haus Freeze Dry has participated in numerous local and international competitions, and won many awards. Recently, Hazel participated in SPARK’s ‘Women in Exports’ initiative, as part of its Economic Resilience Through COVID-19 programme, funded by the Qatar Fund For Development. ‘Women in Exports’ is a collaboration between SPARK and Innovation 4 Development (I4D), aimed at supporting 12 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Türkiye, by providing them with access to market services.
In group sessions with the 11 other SMEs, Hazel received 38 hours of e-export coaching as well as various training sessions on green product development. At the outcome of the training, the participants were supported in the digitalisation of their businesses and were integrated into the TurkishSouq e-export platform. Additionally, the programme provided product photo shooting and banner shooting in order for the SMEs to launch their profile on TurkishSouq. “We are now exporting our products to the entire world thanks to these online channels”, celebrates Hazel.
Beyond the product’s convenience for the consumer, Haus Freeze Dry is also committed to a greater cause: reducing food waste. While recognising the need for structural solutions to food waste, Hazel believes that freeze drying alleviates the time pressure for consuming perishable food, thereby reducing the likelihood that it will go to waste. Haus Freeze Dry are determined to share this sustainable preservation method, and have started to provide consultancy services to other like-minded companies.