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Wish we’d thought of that: Fabulous food and beverage innovations

The 2017 New Zealand Innovation Awards are open for entries. If you’ve got an amazing product, service, process or venture – or you know someone who needs to be shoulder-tapped – now’s the time to get it out there. And to help encourage entries and showcase the categories, we’re showcasing the best innovations we come across. We focus next on Innovation in Food and Beverage, sponsored by Plant & Food Research.

Breast milk alternatives

Fonterra may be Aoteara’s largest company, but size and a long history as a market leader aren’t barriers to innovation – at least if its breast milk substitute is anything to go by.

Not all mothers can breastfeed, of course, so Fonterra has developed a breast milk alternative so infants can still get the nutrition that’s critical for their development. Containing such ingredients as lipids, hydrolysates to support digestive comfort and allergy avoidance and probiotics like bifidobacterium lactis and lactobacillus rhamnosus to support immunity and potentially reduce the risk of allergies and digestive discomfort, the product is aimed at being as natural a substitute for pure breastmilk as possible. The innovation also won the Innovation in Food and Beverage Award at last year’s Innovation Awards.


WineFriend customers subscribe online and have cases of wine delivered direct to their homes monthly or every two months. Founded by wine experts Debbie Sutton and Yvonne Lorkin, the company aims to take the hassle and guesswork out of enjoying a reasonably priced bottle of wine.

The service isn’t just for city slickers either. Sutton says customers come from Paihia right down to Invercargill. The youngest is 22 and the oldest is 84. “The most exciting thing is how engaged and loyal our customers are and how they’ve really embraced discovering new producers and exciting new wines that they would never have thought to try themselves.  They’re our best advocates and almost all of our growth to date has come from their word-of-mouth recommendations.”

Sheep milk gelato

The Spring Sheep Milk Company’s gelato hadn’t even reached the market when it was a finalist in the World Dairy Innovation Awards for the best ice-cream and packaging categories. Launched this past summer, the sheep milk gelato boasts “full-mouth flavour” in chocolate or vanilla.

Gelato made from sheep milk also just makes good business sense. Alternative milk products are gaining popularity worldwide as consumers seek to ease allergies and try more ethical and/or trendy diets. MarketResearch.com says the industry is projected to reach around US $19.5 billion by 2020, growing at a 15.5 percent yearly rate.

Ahi K? tonics

Finalists in the 2015 Innovation Awards, Ahi K? tonics brew a modern drinking tonic orientated around wellness and health, based on traditional M?ori herbal remedies. Just like brewing tea at home, main ingredients are the Kawakawa leaf in the company’s Kawakawa tonic, and the K?marahou leaf in the K?marahou tonic. They also brew leaves with shaved ginger & turmeric root, kale and wheatgrass, along with other ingredients. Oh, and they’re also refined sugar-free. Divine.

Sunfed Meats

The secret of Sunfed Meats’ meat is that it’s not meat at all, despite the name strongly suggesting otherwise. It’s also not something grown in a lab, a la a certain variety of “meatless burger” (that shall remain nameless for fear of defamation) much-reviled among vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.

What Sunfed Meats is, rather, is all-natural meat. From plants.

Sunfed’s first product is chicken made from Canadian yellow peas. The exact process how this is done is a closely-guarded trade secret, but one thing that’s not secret is that it has massive potential to disrupt the food industry. As proof, they won the Innovation Excellence in Research at last year’s Innovation Awards.

 Do you have an innovation worth celebrating? Check out the categories for the 2017 Innovation  Awards, and tell your story by clicking here
Review overview