Veggie powder power: Australia’s Nutri V eyes snacking space to take upcycled foods mainstream
It recently launched Nutri V goodies, a range of puffed snacks. They contain two vegetable servings in each pack, and “offer a higher vegetable load than many other snack foods on the market,” according to the firm.
They are available in three flavours, namely salt and pepper pumpkin, cauliflower, and chilli and lime broccoli. Tapping on the relationship with Fresh Select – the main vegetable producer for Coles, the snacks are sold in 800 of its supermarkets, both in-store and online.
The firm was previously primarily supplying vegetable powders to food manufacturers to incorporate into crackers, dips, breads, and snacks.
CEO Raquel Said told NutraIngredients-Asia that the new launch would meet a clear customer need: “A lot of people were saying that they want an option for kids to have in their lunch boxes, and we want to drive nutrition in a convenient way. Anytime I was talking to people about product offerings, they ask when they can get their hands on the powder - to have a scoop of that in their foods. There were obvious next steps for us in terms of new product offerings as it makes sense to what consumer want and it’s also solving a problem in the farms,” Said explained.
New product development
The firm will next launch its vegetable powder pouches in the consumer space, and has been working on product development opportunities spanning yoghurts, drinks, and even enhanced pet foods.
On the consumer trends driving growth in the space, its CEO said: “Especially in the snacking space, I’ve been seeing a lot of better-for-you trends. Companies want to take something that is indulgent and make it slightly better for you. Like adding a few profiles to banana bread and cupcakes. We’re also seeing interesting flavour pairings with vegetables [to] really enhance the flavours, like broccoli with lemon, salt, and pepper.”
Aside from nutritional benefits, Said added that vegetable powder also functions well as a binder or emulsifier. She sees the potential of “hybrid products” in the plant-based market, such as creating nuggets with both chicken and vegetable powder.
In line with its new product development plan is consumer education to provide more ways to access and consume vegetable powder, and the firm would be looking at partnerships with chefs for recipe ideas.
“We're not saying that these should replace fresh bread and fresh vegetables. But if they can take you top up your servings of vegetables, then we've made a difference. If we can add a little bit of extra nutrition into people's diets in a convenient way, then we've been able to do our job.”
Nutri V was founded in 2020 via a partnership between vegetable producer Fresh Select, and Australia’s national science agency CSIRO.
Said explained how the partnership came about:
“[Fresh Select and CSIRO] were basically looking at a project to see how we can use farm waste, and vegetables that don’t make it to the supermarket shelves. These vegetables just don’t meet certain specifications and the way they look might be slightly different, but I’ll be clear that there’s nothing nutritionally wrong with them.
“Our business model is that we take the vegetables, not just from our parent farm [at Fresh Select] but from farms across Melbourne and other states. We turn them into vegetable powders. That turns them into very nutrient-dense, small serving sized ingredient as we are essentially taking out the water. There is a large array of applications used from F&B to nutraceuticals.”
Two areas for future innovation are microencapsulation and fermentation.
“We’re working on a patented product with them around microencapsulation. What we’re seeing is an appetite for vegetable, plant-based Omega-3 and this is sort of in the nutraceutical space. We’re still in R&D at the moment. It’s an exciting space for food and nutraceuticals, and it’s what customers are asking for as well.
“The second project is around fermentation. Those are novel ingredients that will be developed and launched in the marketplace. It is probably still a bit too early to talk about. But there's some new novel technology that's coming as well with our partnership,” Said elaborated.
The firm is also assessing if its business model has the potential to scale.
“At the present moment, the only facility we have is in the South - in Victoria. It can only process a certain amount of vegetables into powders. However, we know that there’s a waste problem with vegetables not just here, but in Queensland, Western Australia, and other parts of the world.
“We would really be interested to look at what our business model could look like if we take what we’ve done here and putting in other parts of the world or in Australia – to turn that waste into new foods.”