For Botanical Innovations’ founder Kerry Ferguson, the value proposition to develop the business was clear from the outset. In Central West NSW where Botanical Innovations is located, there is an abundance of horticultural crops that generate significant waste streams. Further to this, an estimated 65 percent of the region’s agricultural output has no level of value-adding. Research that Kerry undertook revealed that the number of health supplements available to consumers, both online and in-‐stores, is overwhelming and confusing; and there is a growing trend for naturally derived sustainable foods that have nutritional benefits and taste great. Kerry combined all these insights and in 2014 launched Botanical Innovations to transform and refine waste from the agricultural sector into functional food and beverages.
Settling on apples, cherries, grapes and oak, Botanical Innovations worked closely with Southern Cross University to develop a number of proprietary processes combining extraction, fermentation, cold pressing and essential oil production to produce extracts, fermented extracts, fruits & vinegars, cold pressed oils, essential oils and powders. Key challenges they needed to overcome included how to process the different fruits, separating the raw material into the target components (skin, flesh and seed), and processing these target components to create the products with zero or minimal waste. Botanical Innovations’ initial business plan was to manufacture and distribute the products to wholesalers as bulk ingredients. However, during the process of developing the products, they saw an opportunity to also develop a retail range, reflective of the impact that technological change is having on the food and beverage industry.
It has taken two years for Botanical Innovations to develop their products to the point where they are ready to commercialise. Over this time, the company has evolved from being focused on research and development to being a producer of a unique range of functional food and beverages for wholesale and retail markets. They are launching an online shop and are exploring opportunities to supply the growing middle classes in China and India, and consumers in Japan and Korea, where there is a long tradition of drinking vinegars as a health tonic. Botanical Innovations will continue to collaborate with Southern Cross University and is planning to engage its own researchers to continue to add to its range of great tasting foods and beverages that have enhanced health and nutritional benefits.
Botanical Innovations has spent two years undertaking research and development to create proprietary technologies to manufacture its unique range of phenolic rich phytonutrients for functional foods and beverages. http://www.botanicalinnovations.com.au
Source: Celebrating Australian Food and Agribusiness Innovations, FIAL 2017 Australian Government Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Industry Growth Centres