From the rich fertile soil of Tonga to delicious baked goods enjoyed around the world, Heilala Vanilla is much more than just an ingredient. For many, these humble vanilla beans represent a sustainable future, employment, and a sense of pride and purpose.
Heilala Vanilla began when New Zealander John Ross flew to Tonga after the 2001 Cyclone Waka tore through the Pacific and left a trail of destruction in its wake. He organised a team of retired builders, electricians, and plumbers from his Papakura Rotary Club to join him on the island of Vava’u to help rebuild infrastructure.
When Ross heard concerns about the island’s future, he suggested reviving the cultivation of vanilla and so the Heilala Vanilla journey began.
Now Ross’s daughter, Jennifer Boggiss, oversees the business and it continues to be recognised for its focus on sustainability and community engagement.
“Sustainability means different things to different people and organisations,” says Boggiss. “To us it’s all about being connected to our purpose which is to empower vanilla growing communities in Tonga and ensure sustainable livelihoods for future generations.
“The communities of Tonga are the lifeblood of our business, and we believe that providing sustainable livelihoods can be achieved through two pillars.
“One is vanilla growing. You can have an impact on community by providing them with income from growing vanilla. The second one is through empowerment. Providing people with processes that will assist them to grow the best vanilla in the world. This includes training, demonstration plots, research, and all the other things that we do.”
Vanilla bean vines grow 20 degrees on either side of the equator and are suitable for smallhold farmers. It is also an especially desirable crop for women as it isn’t particularly physically demanding.
“The vanilla growing practise is very much hands-on in the traditional way and typically grown alongside other crops for the farmer,” says Boggiss.
“From a resilience perspective, if you have droughts or cyclones you don’t want to be reliant on one crop on a farm, so it goes really well alongside other crops. It also is a long-term crop so when you plant it you don’t get anything until the fourth year.”
Once the beans have been harvested, dried under the hot Tongan sun, and cured, it is imported into New Zealand and processed at the Heilala Vanilla factory in Tauranga. Here it undergoes vanilla extraction and turned into vanilla pastes, powders, sugars, and more.
“Some vanilla growers dry it the fast-tracked way, but we still do it traditionally because that’s where the full flavour profile of the vanilla bean is developed,” Boggiss says.
To ensure the company is staying on target in all areas of the business, Heilala Vanilla published its first impact report last year in September 2020 and will repeat this annually.
This includes detailing community initiatives Heilala Vanilla is involved in to compliment the vanilla growing business.
When COVID-19 arrived, the team couldn’t visit Tonga as they normally would, so they had to turn to other ways of supporting the farmers.
“In the last 12 months we have had three projects to deliver on that purpose [of empowering farmers],” Boggis says.
“One was sending two million vegetable seeds to our partners in Tonga who put them into nurseries and then distributed them to households.
“We also sent a container load of desks and chairs for classrooms that didn’t have furniture to two communities that we are part of.”
In the early days of the pandemic the Heilala Vanilla team realised they had the ingredients used in the vanilla extract process necessary to make hand sanitiser which they then sent to three hospitals in Tonga.
Boggiss says over the next year the company is looking to extend its focus on the community and look at the environmental impact “because it goes hand in hand”.
The company has also applied for its B-Corp certification. Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
“It is all about how you balance people, planet, and profit,” Boggiss says. “We have submitted our B- Corp assessment, in which we had a really high score, and now we are waiting for certification. In the meantime, we are operating with the mindset that we are a B-Corp company. It was something that really resonated with us because it was who we are and what we stand for anyway. It wasn’t like we had to change everything we had to fit in with it.”
Boggis says she is grateful the company started with a sustainable reason for being.
“If I was advising someone starting out, I would ask them to question what their sustainability drive is. It’s much easier to set it up at the beginning than to get 10 years down the track and have to change things. For us, it’s always been part of who we are.”
Our core business is drying New Zealand honey into powder.
Our honey powder is manufactured using a proprietary drying process in our RMP registered factory in Marlborough New Zealand.
The honey powder is bulk supplied and is used in wet and dry food systems, confectionary and health bars, powdered soups, sauces, gravies, custards, cosmetics, pet food, milk products, an alternative to sugar and dry bakery premixes.
We add value to honey powder and manufacture private brand lozenges packed into foil trays and honey powder and crystals packed conveniently into foil tubes.
Contact us for OEM opportunities.
15 Greig Lane
Ceres Organics is a trusted NZ owned organic food distributor, grounded in almost 40 years history, and recognised as a founding player in the organic movement. We offer a wide range of certified organic bulk ingredients for manufacturers, food service and retail, with a robust worldwide supply chain that is both environmentally and socially responsible.
With consumers increasingly concerned about health and wellness, what is in their food and sourcing, Ceres Organics can offer a solution to help. We can cater to virtually all your requirements with ingredients.
All our ingredients are traceable from pasture to plate. We personally validate and meet the people through our supply chain, inspecting every element from the farms, warehouses, packing/processing facilities, through to the port.
This ensures that what we offer you is only the highest quality certified organic ingredients.
82 Carbine Road
For a quarter of a century Alchemy has been supporting the New Zealand and Australian Food and Beverage industry with innovative, high quality products. Alchemy Agencies is employee owned and we work hard for you to grow our businesses together.
As your supply partners we are here to provide ingredient and technical solutions to help grow your business.
We service all areas of the food, beverage and nutraceutical industry including dairy, beverage, condiments, confectionery, dessert, snack, bakery and much more.
We specialise in vitamin and mineral pre mixes; functional ingredients and bioactive herbal blends; frozen, aseptic and dried Fruits and vegetables; brewing supplies; hydrocolloids including specialty blends; sugar replacers and ingredients for fibre fortification; nutraceuticals and gelcaps for pharma. Much of our range is available as conventional and / or organic.
Our trusted supply partners have a focus on innovation and are always looking to grow capability through new customer partnerships.
Domnic Lobo – Business Manager
Level 2, 20 Centre Street
PO Box 90206
Victoria Street West
The story of Remarkable Cream liqueur is just that – remarkable – and it has a 40-year family history.
It all began in the 70s when Bill Cameron, founder of ‘Robbie Burns Liquor’, attempted to make New Zealand’s very own cream liqueur.
When his attempts fell short, he instead decided to import ‘Conti-Cream’ from Australia, but his heart was still set on a locally made cream liqueur that would rival the Irish.
In the year 2000, his son Neil Cameron, who had followed in his father’s footsteps, successfully developed a recipe for a liqueur with New Zealand cream as the hero ingredient.
This product was sold in the South Island and enjoyed for many years by a small but enthusiastic bunch of customers.
Neil continued to make these cream liqueurs in central Otago and Dunedin, supplying locally, until he was forced to stop for health reasons.
Now Neil’s son William, is carrying on the family tradition, and has perfected the recipe for the cream liqueur to highlight the very best New Zealand ingredients, including a blend of fresh cream, butterscotch, and smooth whey vodka.
Despite growing up around his father’s recipe and spending hours helping to make it, Wills had never tasted much of it himself, so it wasn’t until he took a few bottles up to Auckland that he realised the potential it had to give other cream liqueurs a run for their money.
“I got it out to shops, and everyone went crazy for it,” he says.
It soon became clear that the New Zealand Food Innovation Networks’ Auckland-based FoodBowl facility was the perfect combination of accredited facilities and processing equipment that Wills needed to make his product.
To give it the chance it deserved, Neil decided to move up to Auckland to better support William, despite living and producing in Otago for most of his life.
Wills realised proper marketing and design would be required to match the quality and provenance. So, he set about designing his own branding featuring, appropriately, the iconic Remarkable ranges that the family had grown up skiing.
“When I first met The FoodBowl’s business development manager, Al Baxter, said: ‘It looks old fashioned Will, but not in a good way,’ which I completely agreed with,” says Wills.
But The FoodBowl wasn’t really set up for manufacturing alcohol, so progress was slow, and a year passed before production was able to get properly underway.
“There were lot of hurdles,” says Wills.
Finally in February 2021, all the necessary approvals had been granted and processing could begin.
However, the nature of the product itself requires very specific parameters and a specialist homogeniser, so it wasn’t to be smooth sailing just yet.
Production began with running the product through The FoodBowls’ machine only for the team to discover the product required processing so specific that is initially failed. Eventually, with some tweaking and experimentation, they managed to get the product stable.
After this slight setback, Wills decided to purchase and import his own 1m3/h high-pressure homogeniser. This would solve all his stabilising problems in the future, and he could lease it out to other manufacturers who might need it for a variety of reasons.
And with this decision, his secondary business Homogenise Now, was borne.
“Our main barrier to production for the cream liqueur has been access to a homogeniser with higher pressures than is required for milk and other dairy. In addition, while producing at The FoodBowl, we had some challenges with their machine which was a difficult position as in New Zealand there is no company that can bring a homogeniser to a site for ’emergency’ uses, or for validation/pilot runs.
“That is one good thing to come out of the challenges, as we are setting up the homogeniser (with pumps and filters etc) on a mobile setup to solve that problem for others.”
Wills has also been working with ProduCo food safety and regulatory compliance specialists, so other manufacturers can rest assured it is up to standard if they need to bring it onto their factory premises.
The FoodBowl’s Al Baxter says he is pleased to see a product being launched with a New Zealand story and provenance in the branding.
“Wills was great to work with – very professional and patient. He was very focussed on getting the job done properly and overcoming technical challenges.”
Not only that, but the product also has good export potential, says Baxter.
With all the hurdles the Cameron men have faced over the years to make such a technically difficult product, Remarkable Cream holds a special place in the family history.
“My dad has had health issues for the last few years. When he made the last batch of the previous product, he’d been very unwell and only just managed to pull it off,” says Wills.
“He made the batch, the pipes blew, and 500 litres went on the ground. He thought this was the end of the product. It had really broken him.
“To now see it coming back and hearing the great feedback he’s really happy and proud.”
Despite all the challenges, Wills isn’t one to cry over spilt milk, and remains more determined than ever to give Remarkable Cream the chance it deserves.
“There’ve been so many times that the business has been right on the edge. The product is hard to make, but to get it made properly is a really good feeling.”
To learn more about Homogenise Now visit: www.homogenisenow.nz
What if it was possible to get the same nutritional value of leafy green vegetables but from the food we love to eat? The folks at Leaft Foods think they might have found a solution.
Founded in 2019, by John and Maury Leyland Penno, Leaft Foods Ltd is aiming to create a range of new food products using the plant protein RuBisCO.
The protein is found in all green leafy vegetables and has high nutritional value and a lighter environmental footprint than traditional animal or grain-based sources of protein.
General manager Ross Milne says there are two drivers behind what the company is trying to achieve.
“Firstly, we’re trying to extract a protein out of green leafy material to use as a food ingredient. The RuBisCo protein that we are targeting is relatively well-known to the plant science community but not to food consumers,” he says.
“RuBisCo is a really interesting protein. It is white, tasteless, and odourless. While that might not sound very interesting from a food point of view, from a protein ingredient perspective, those are some fantastic qualities.”
The protein has an amino acid profile which is comparable to an animal derived protein – often one of the challenges faced by others working with current plant protein products.
“We’re also excited about the protein functionality that we’ve seen to date. Its gelling and foaming properties and its solubility. From a food technology point of view that’s what gets us really excited because it opens up doors to other opportunities in terms of how we could integrate it into a whole raft of products.
“Secondly, what we’re looking to develop is a new opportunity for our farmers to increase the environmental sustainability of our food systems.
“We are experts in New Zealand in terms of growing pasture. Our focus at Leaft Foods is to utilise our expertise, work with pastures that farmers are already familiar with and grab the protein from there.”
Somewhat ironically, Milne moved back from Copenhagen, Denmark to work on this project after leaving his job in the dairy industry. “I slipped through the fence onto the other side,” he says with a laugh.
“It’s a privilege to work on something like this. It’s very aspirational in that we want to make a real positive impact on the environment and give farmers an opportunity to be involved in plant protein, in conjunction with their existing farming systems, in an economically viable way. For me personally, to have the opportunity to come back to New Zealand and be involved in and lead a project like this, is really exciting.”
An early indicator that they were on to something special came when the Leaft team used their ingredient to make a pavlova. And it worked!
“We’re a Kiwi start-up company so we thought what better way to test our product.
“Egg white protein is really interesting because it can form a bake stable foam, so if you want to use a substitute it has to also be something that also does this. We noticed that our protein had this potential.”
Other plant-based egg substitutes have the basic functionality however are carbohydrate-based rather than protein based and therefore do not match the nutrition profile of egg white.
“We substituted out the egg white and put in our protein to deliver on both functionality and nutrition with great results on the first test bake,” Milne says.
The trial pavlova was enjoyed at the Leaft Foods end of year Christmas party in 2019 by the team who were pleased with the results.
“It got us really excited because it demonstrated what our product could do. Now it’s about building on the research to develop a paddock to plate commercial food system. We know the opportunity is there, and we still have a significant research and development program ahead of us.”
Milne hopes New Zealanders will see this research and development as an opportunity and will step up to take on challenges and changes and lead the way on journey to build a new industry.
“There’s a lot of synergies between existing agricultural systems and what we’re working on and they can be co-beneficial. There is a unique opportunity, we’ve got really great people in New Zealand and there is a significant shift in consumer habits globally. Therefore, if we maintain our momentum on this, we have the opportunity to develop new products and be ahead of the game.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers have been increasingly seeking health and wellness products. In response to this, CSL Centro Sperimentale Del Latte has developed Florganic Probiotics.
A growing market
According to the 2018 Organic Aotearoa New Zealand (OANZ) Market report, New Zealand’s total organic products market is valued at around $600 million, and has grown by 30% since 2015.
A global leader in probiotic manufacturing, CSL says their new product is designed to give food and beverage brands an opportunity to capitalise on this increasing demand for clean, natural and organic products.
“The New Zealand industry can benefit from not just local consumer interest in organic products, but also increased interest from international markets where organic foods continue to be a strong desire for health-conscious consumers,” says CSL Asia Pacific chief executive officer John Goebel.
“We believe the Florganic Probiotics range is innovative in its production and certification as it helps organic-focused brands to further deliver on their brand promise.
“Unlike probiotics which are not certified organic products, the Florganic Probiotic range still delivers clinically studied strains with the added quality appeal of being a certified organic product.”
Available in a powdered blend form, the probiotic range can be added to milk powders, supplements, infant formula, health and wellness powder, drinks, liquid drops, yoghurts, chocolate and meal replacement shakes.
The benefits of probiotics
Defined as living microorganisms, probiotics can provide a range of health benefits when consumed in certain quantities.
Well-documented lactobacillus strains, such as a Synbio® blend, Lactobacillus rhamnosus CRL1505 and Lactobacillus rhamnosus SP1 are on offer in the Florganics range. A leading Bifidobacteria strain is also available in the certified organic offering of Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactic BLC1.
Probiotic strains such as these have a number of health benefits, including:
- Immune system stimulation
- Lowering of blood ammonia
- Reduced serum cholesterol
- Strengthened mucosal barriers
- Alleviation of lactose intolerance
- Improved synthesis of B vitamins.
Probiotics in diary products
A number of studies have shown that probiotic bacteria have an improved survival and efficacy when delivered through milk, compared to any other medium.
Yoghurt, ice cream and cheese can also be made with the incorporation of probiotics. However, they don’t all respond the same.
Special care must be taken to ensure that the growth of an added probiotic culture in fermented milk products does not compromise the sensory profile of the product. This means that extra diligence must be taken during the prototype development, as well as during commercial production.
Meanwhile, ice cream can accommodate probiotics for a longer period (one year or more when stored at the correct temperature) than any other dairy product due to its frozen format. Cheese can also be an ideal carrier of probiotic additives thanks to a high fat and low water content – an ideal condition for probiotics.
Fifth-generation family owned and run; Langdon has been exploring and sourcing the globe for the best ingredients for 170 years. With established offices around the world, our local knowledge and global expertise mean we are the go-to purveyor of the finest ingredients and trusted collaborator for product solutions across a vast range of industries.
Our pantry provides a wealth of options for food and beverage manufacturers and if we don’t have what you’re looking for, we can easily source it.
Our pantry includes:
• Dehydrated Vegetables
• Frozen Herbs, Fruits & Vegetables
• Natural Flavours, Colours & Sweeteners
• Nuts & Fruits
• Herbs & Spices
• Seed, Ancients Grains, Beans & Pulses
• Functional Ingredients
The industries we work with:
• Beverage & Distillery
• Consumer Ready
• Health & Wellbeing
• Prepared Foods
• Pet & Animal Nutrition
As an accredited supplier and manufacturer, we also offer a range of capabilities to suit your business needs from product development, packing, blending, climate-controlled warehousing and end-to-end solutions.
Our door is always open – let us know how we can help your business.
11 Rakino Way
Chantal Organics began in 1978, in Hawkes Bay, when a group of like-minded people shared a vision of healthier food for their families. They formed a co-operative to buy organic and natural wholefoods. One of the families had a daughter named Chantal, so the name Chantal Organics is a reminder that organic and natural whole foods care for our families, our environment, and future generations.
The Chantal Organics business was purchased from members of the founding families by the Kraus family in August 2016 and is still completely NZ owned and operated.
Chantal Organics is now a nationwide manufacture and wholesaler, distributing organic products into grocery and green stores and making award winning spreads and breakfast cereals from our production facility in the Hawke’s Bay.
We also have a strong bulk foods business, which supports consumers in buying plastic-free via various bulk-refill outlets throughout the country, as well as supplying manufacturers such as bakers and other food producers with the highest quality organic ingredients.
93 Austin Street
Ingredion Incorporated, a leading global provider of ingredient solutions to diversified industries, announced the Singapore Food Agency added Reb M Stevia leaf sweetener to the list of permitted food additives.
Reb M is a non-caloric stevia sweetener that provides sweetness with a clean, sugar-like taste and enables food and beverage manufacturers to reduce sugar, without sacrificing taste.
Reb M stevia leaf sweetener is a non-caloric, high-purity stevia sweetener with a clean, sugar-like taste, without the bitterness associated with some stevia sweeteners. The unique production process starts with the stevia leaf and uses a patented bioconversion process to achieve high quantities of Reb M, economically unattainable from traditional stevia extraction methods. Reb M was commercialised in 2017, achieved Non-GMO Project verification, and has been approved in many regions around the world.
Ingredion, a global provider of ingredient solutions, has announced the launch of Purity Bio starches.
Comprising Purity Bio 301 organic tapioca starch and Purity Bio 805 organic rice starch, the new range improves viscosity for a smooth and creamy mouthfeel in liquid-based food and drink applications, while also supporting a clean and fast flavour release. Organic and gluten-free, it is also ideally suited for use in products with corresponding on-pack claims.
The introduction of Purity Bio is tailored to meet the needs of customers in the Asia Pacific region, both in terms of product development and operational efficiency.
“Not only does the new range offer the technical functionality to elevate product textures across applications, its organic certification also enables manufacturers to capitalise on demand for clean and ethically produced products. When it comes to the baby food category, for example, where the organic platform is driving growth Purity Bio range of products is the ideal option to create products with both the smooth texture and clean label consumers prefer,” says Valdirene Licht, senior vice president and president, Asia-Pacific.
“In addition, by providing manufacturers with a local source of organic starch – as opposed to a US or EU supply – we are able to shorten delivery, turnaround and response time by around a third or more.”
Midlands Apiaries, a New Zealand producer of genuine Mānuka honey, has announced its affordable ‘black label’ brand, Mount Somers, is set to be sold in New World supermarkets across the country for the very first time.
Discerning honey lovers who appreciate fine gourmet spreads and ingredients, can now enjoy uniquely distinctive honey flavours, and more new additions for a wholesome taste experience. The launch marks an introduction of the largest selection of one-of-a-kind flavour profiles in the honey industry. Naturally produced and in their raw form.
Mount Somers will enter the retail market with six delicious new flavours including vanilla, caramel, orange, lemon, lime, and ginger. These decadent treats offer a sweet lovely taste, naturally produced and processed refined sugar free. Mount Somers’ newest range also includes ‘Cook and Bake’, a convenient option dedicated to passionate home bakers and chefs. The new exciting range also extends to offer Mānuka monoflorals in UMF 5+ and 10+, Rata, raw Kamahi honey, Forest Dew and Clover
Differentiating itself from the likes of high in artificial processed sugar spreads, the new Mount Somers range is guilt free and natural, without losing any sweet flavour. The unique and special thing about honey, especially the Midlands range, is that instead of being filled with nasties like sucrose which is refined and processed, the Mount Somers range is only full of natural sugars, not to mention the feel-good versatile properties that are part of the Mānuka experience. This new range of flavoured spreads is set to be ideal for baking, in hot drinks or on toast in the morning.
As I take the helm of NZ Food Technology for a period of time, I’m excited at what the future landscape of Kiwi food is about to bring.
Pressure to produce more per acreage – in my view – is a great thing, opening up fresh opportunities for New Zealand food and beverage manufacturers. The flow-on effect in terms of contribution from businesses outside of the actual food/beverage manufacturer is what NZ needs to get ahead. We need to produce, more. An opportunity for one business in the making of a product provides work for many other businesses that are able to contribute to the source business/project being a success – from ad agencies to engineers.
Hot topics and trends in food and drink are popping up everywhere. Evolution is on an exponential curve. In this issue we talk about new proteins, market trends and the likes… and you can add that to the previously well documented opportunities within food and beverage markets: legalisation of hemp seed as food, the rise of insect power, super powders, fermented foods, raw and more. Health will be huge in 2019 and beyond.
It’s our job at NZ Food Technology to present you with such opportunities and to put you in touch with innovative suppliers of ingredients and machinery, services and solutions to ensure your business has access to all it can to be that success.
Myself, I’m off to eat a Brazil nut for my selenium fix. But just one.
Cuddon Freeze Dry have been designing and building quality freeze dryers for over 55 years. Installed globally, our freeze drying solutions are highly respected world-wide for delivering premium freeze dried products which retain their nutrience, enzyme activity, smell and taste, even in raw products.
With our small equipment foot print and easy integration into existing or new facilities, a Cuddon freeze dryer is low maintenance, simple to operate and cost effective.
Our turn-key solution includes build, installation, commissioning, training and 12 months warranty. Designed and built in-house, our design team can personalise the specification to meet your bespoke needs. We provide technical support for Cuddon freeze dryers worldwide for life.
Come talk with us about your next project.
18 McArtney Street
Brooke Fine Foods are importers and distributors of quality food solutions. We specialise is bulk food ingredients, covering a wide range of dried vine, tree and tropical fruit, nuts, grains and seeds, beans and lentils, vinegar, puree, starch’s and flours, peanut butter, canned goods, snacks, mixes and specialty products. We also represent some iconic international brands such as Mrs Balls, Peppadew, Yes You Can and our very own pre-pack range, Summer Harvest.
Brooke Fine Foods supplies private label products within the NZ & Australian grocery sector, we’re able to source a selection of items from around the globe.
Our fundamental philosophy is to provide our clients with a comprehensive, high quality, product range that represents good value. We firmly believe in long-term relationships both with clients and suppliers as we believe that long-term relationships foster consistently better business.
9A Apollo Drive
PO Box 302-118
Filtercorp is the pre-eminent provider of filtration product and services enabling a cleaner tomorrow. Experts in Dust Management, Ventilation Systems, Flexible Connectors, Liquid Filtration – and now teamed up with a Twin City Fans world leaders in Industrial and Commercial Fans. Our range of fans will blow you away! and we now have the Nordfab Ducting products and seal clamps with their innovative Quick-Fit® products.
Matt Tonkin – Sales & Customer Service Manager
Angela Hogan – Key Account Customer Service Leader
17-21 Kawana Street
+64 3 377 9212
+64 9 483 4355
Sensient Technologies Corporation is a leading global manufacturer and marketer of natural extracts, natural flavours, natural colours and other specialty ingredients. Sensient uses advanced technologies and robust global supply chain capabilities to develop specialized solutions for food and beverages, as well as products that serve the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, cosmetic, and personal care industries. Sensient’s customers range in size from small entrepreneurial businesses to major international manufacturers representing some of the world’s best-known brands.
Our Auckland development team and manufacturing site take international trends and technologies from our global resources and transforms them into local products, concepts, and innovations for our New Zealand customers. We continue to support our customers with formulation development, short lead times, and small MOQs with a focus on speed and flexibility.
5 Doraval Place
PO Box 22451
Stephanie Seege is on a crusade. Her date-sweetened chocolate range suitable for vegans, people with allergies, intolerances, religious requirements and diabetics has been blocked by EU law from being called chocolate… and she’s doing something about it.
kAAKAO is what most people would call heaven-sent.
A chocolate that looks like chocolate, tastes like chocolate and melts in your mouth like chocolate but with only 25g of sugar per 100g, with a low glycemic index and as little naturally occurring sugar as in one medium-sized green apple… it makes eating indulgently almost good for you.
When frustrated Nordchocolate Oy founder Stephanie Seege – dogged by food intolerances her entire life – decided to make her own sweet products for restricted diets, she knew there was a way to make highly indulgent chocolate that tasted the same or better than what was already on the market – but free from traditional sugar, allergens and other ingredients. And that became the Finish food technologist’s downfall.
The new chocolate is made with cocoa, cocoa butter, coconut milk and dates. Those ingredients seem traditional, but the combination hasn’t been used in chocolate-making until now.
According to European legislators, the name ‘chocolate’ is by definition a combination of cocoa and added sugar. Whilst dates contain naturally occurring fructose and glucose, they are not considered sugar and therefore kAAKAO is not chocolate. Seege is outraged.
“An organic chocolate bar made with four premium ingredients that can’t be called chocolate?! It’s a great example of how confusing current food labelling laws are,” she says. “How are consumers supposed to understand what we make? We want to change that.”
So she decided to make kAAKAO a leading light in driving revisions to the EU laws, which presently constitute what she calls a challenging barrier to the market.
“The laws are also prohibitive to consumers’ demands for healthier choices,” she says. “Experts and factory owners said it was impossible to create a chocolate sweetened with dates. Years were spent developing the recipe and sourcing new ingredients. I’m not going to lie to you – people scoffed, they laughed, they told me it couldn’t be done, because no one had. It took some experimentation, some mixing and remixing of ingredients. Blending and re-blending until I got my confection to perfection.”
The code was finally cracked together with a Swiss partner, thus breaking tradition in the art of chocolate making and paving the way for a new ‘not-chocolate’ category.
The impossible turned possible – creating the same chocolatey taste and texture that people are used to, but without using any traditional sugar and by rethinking all the remaining ingredients as well.
UK-based Seege says it is vital to raise awareness around food labelling and to teach consumers how to decipher what they are about to eat or buy.
She will use her brand’s legal problems to showcase the issue.
“We are currently trying to create change with the help of media,” she says. “A while back, we tried changing our tax class, arguing that we shouldn’t be taxed as chocolate if we can’t call our product that. It wasn’t well received. Therefore, we are creating buzz around the ridiculous situation by getting people talking about it and raising awareness around food labelling laws. If people start understanding how confusing they are, we hopefully will push legislators to rethink the current laws.”
Raw fruit and vegetables may be better for your mental health than cooked, canned and processed fruit and vegetables.
University of Otago researchers have discovered raw fruit and vegetables provide better mental health outcomes, but the trick is in the way they are prepared and consumed.
Psychology senior lecturer and lead author Dr Tamlin Conner says public health campaigns usually focus on aspects of quantity for the consumption of fruit and vegetables – such as the 5+ a day campaigns – but for mental health, raw is best. “Our research has highlighted that the consumption of fruit and vegetables in their ‘unmodified’ state is more strongly associated with better mental health compared to cooked/canned/processed fruit and vegetables,” Conner says. “This could be because the cooking and processing of fruit and vegetables has the potential to diminish nutrient levels. This likely limits the delivery of nutrients that are essential for optimal emotional functioning.”
For the study, more than 400 young adults from New Zealand and the United States aged 18 to 25 were surveyed. This age group was chosen as young adults typically have the lowest fruit and vegetable consumption of all age groups and are at high risk for mental health disorders.
The group’s typical consumption of raw versus cooked and processed fruits and vegetables was assessed, alongside their negative and positive mental health, and lifestyle and demographic variables that could affect the association between fruit and vegetable intake and mental health (such as exercise, sleep, unhealthy diet, chronic health conditions, socioeconomic status, ethnicity and gender).
“Controlling for the covariates, raw fruit and vegetable consumption predicted lower levels of mental illness symptomology, such as depression, and improved levels of psychological wellbeing including positive mood, life satisfaction and flourishing,” she says. “These mental health benefits were significantly reduced for cooked, canned and processed fruits and vegetables. This research is increasingly vital as lifestyle approaches such as dietary change may provide an accessible, safe and adjuvant approach to improving mental health.”
The top 10 raw foods related to better mental health were carrots, bananas, apples, dark leafy greens such as spinach, grapefruit, lettuce, citrus fruits, fresh berries, cucumber and kiwifruit.
New Zealand is well positioned to lead the world in the meat substitute niche…and farmers should not fear the consumer-driven trend, but embrace it for full capitalisation.
Life Health Foods spokesperson Mark Roper says eco-conscious millennial consumers are reshaping demand for alternative sources of protein, and a nationwide survey commissioned by the country’s largest manufacturer of vegetarian foods shows millennials aged 18 to 34 are the target market to adopt a mostly meat-free diet in the next decade.
Life Health Foods – which makes plant-based Bean Supreme and recently launched Alternative Meat Co. products – says growing concern for the environment is leading this demographic to seek out other options to integrate into their diet. “
Among this age group, factors such as concern for animal welfare and the environment were some of the most important drivers of purchase choice,” Roper says, “whereas if you look at older consumers, health considerations and cost of meat were the primary reasons for choosing vegetarian foods.”
New Zealand is well positioned to take advantage of this emerging trend – which has seen accelerated growth in the global meat substitute market.
“Our research is showing that many consumers are not completely replacing meat in their diet – instead, they are integrating more meat-free options throughout the week. This makes development of a plant protein market complementary to our existing agricultural exports.”
Roper says the new consumer driven trend is something that farmers should not fear, but rather capitalise on.
“As a producer we are looking at this growth as a promising future market. As well as a growth industry globally, there is increasing demand for these products in the more well-established markets of the US and Europe, where there are potentially large export opportunities for us.”
At the same time, New Zealand is well positioned as a producer nation to capitalise on millennial’s demand for plant-based products.
“As a country, we have a strong agricultural research base, we are great at growing crops here, and the development of a more environmentally friendly, alternative protein market will potentially enhance the ‘pure NZ’ brand equity,” he says.
“With demand for meat alternatives expected to grow significantly in the coming years, we are looking at other sources of protein that have similar texture and taste to meat, and that can be developed into added value products for the domestic and export markets. Plants like pea, soy, mushrooms and even seaweed can be made into products with similar properties to meat and food companies around the world are investing millions of dollars to be at the forefront of this,” he says.
The local market for vegetarian food is developing quickly, with category growth exceeding 20% per annum.
Roper says his company’s recently launched Alternative Meat Co. has exceeded initial volume expectations to the point where production has been expanded.
“Around 80% of our added value vegetarian products that are sold in New Zealand are made here,” he says. “With increased demand locally and globally, greater volumes of ingredients will be required from suppliers to meet this opportunity.” www.lhffoodservice.co.nz