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Fruits of nature

Consumers are more health-conscious and environmentally aware than ever before and FMCG companies are finally starting to take note. However it will be some time before we really see the impact in supermarkets.

Thankfully, in the meantime, there are a whole host of small businesses bringing weird and wonderful products to market.

Here we share five ones to watch in the health and wellness space.

Jiminy cricket! 

Sustainability has become the buzzword in FMCG of late and Grilo Protein from Byron Bay is hoping to encourage Australians to eat in a more sustainable way.

The business is based on a desire to bring better health, sustainable and future conscious foods to consumers.

“That’s the reason we chose the most sustainable protein on Earth, crickets,” Grilo co-founder and marketing head, Martina Meyer told Inside FMCG. 

“After watching many documentaries and reading a lot about sustainability, the environment and the future of our Planet, we started to get worried about the consequences of our footprint for future generations,” Meyer said. 

“We did a lot of research and found out that bugs were the closest thing to a perfect protein source this planet has ever seen.”

The ecological footprint of bugs is much smaller than traditional protein sources such as cattle, pork, chicken and soy. 

Crickets contain up to 69 per cent protein, a complete amino acid profile, vitamin B12, bioavailable iron and prebiotic fibre.

Grilo sells cricket powder, protein, energy bars as well as organic roasted crickets – for optimum crunch!

Berry bubbles

When it comes to cleaning products and laundry detergents, supermarkets can be limited in the natural options they provide. But with consumers growing increasingly concerned about the impact of chemicals, that looks set to change. 

That Red House is introducing an altogether different way of washing your clothes – soap berries!

Talia and Luke Borda from South Australia switched to a completely organic lifestyle after Luke was diagnosed with cancer twice in four years. 

“We started looking into our everyday chemical exposure and explored the changes we would need to make to ensure the health of our young family,” Talia said. 

“I was struggling to find an organic option for the laundry. We had a greywater system in place for the veggie garden, but I really needed a 100 per cent chemical free, biodegradable

and preferably organic detergent that actually worked on three dirty little boys!”

After much research, Talia discovered soapberries and decided to take the plunge in setting up her own business.

Soapberries are the fruit of the Sapindus Mukorossi tree which grows in the Himalayan region. The dried outer shell of the fruit contains “Saponins” which are a natural soap. They reduce the surface tension of water, releasing dirt and grime from fabrics and surfaces. 

That Red House sells up to 1kg bags of soapberries, along with a small cotton bag to place the berries in during the wash, for a berry good result!

Doe a deer 

Kōtia is a skincare range with a twist – it is developed with pure New Zealand deer milk.

Queenstown entrepreneur Graeme Shaw has been pioneering mechanised deer milking since 2012, when a milk farmer in Otago noticed the impact of her daily deer milking routine on her hands. 

Shaw had the deer milk analysed by a team of scientists from AgResearch who

discovered that deer milk is rich in retinol, folic acid, antioxidants and nutrients as well as  anti-inflammatory agents in the form of vitamin D3, which can help prevent premature ageing.

Last year Kōtia secured a significant distribution deal which will see the products stocked in the Priceline Pharmacy. 

“Our mission here at Kōtia is to provide women across the world the highest-quality premium skincare products with proven efficacy for nourishing and hydrating the skin,” Shaw said.

“We’re thrilled to be the first to market a range of skincare products containing deer milk with clinically proven results. The products combine the natural benefits of pure New Zealand deer milk with the scientific goodness of New Zealand active ingredients, which have the potential to transform the world of skincare.”

Kōtia’s range is dermatologically tested and endorsed, and includes day and night creams, cleansing milk, cream mask, eye cream, serum and hand cream.

Sweet dreams 

In recent years, sugar has become public enemy number one. With so many food and beverages plied with hidden sugars, health-conscious consumers are looking for alternative options. 

Stevia has acted as a popular substitute for quite a while but there’s a new player entering the market. Well, actually a very old one!

Lakanto is a sweetener derived from monk fruit, a small green melon native to regions of China and Thailand. The luo han guo fruit has been used for centuries in traditional

Chinese medicine, but was largely unknown outside of Chinese culture, leaving many unanswered questions about its sweetening compound.

Saraya, a company from Osaka, Japan, brought this unsuspecting green fruit to the world stage in 1995. The monk fruit is picked and dried out before extraction with the end result a sweetener that is 150 to 200 times sweeter than sugar. Lakanto has been available in Japan since 1995 and in America for approximately five years.

Earlier this year Saraya was successful in its efforts to get monk fruit extract recognized as a food additive by Food Standards Australia New Zealand. Less than 6 months later, the startup brand was snapped up by Woolworths.

The company plans to expand the range in 2019 to include ready-to-eat chocolate, hot chocolate and flavoured syrups.

Luker up! 

Lük Beautifood was founded by food scientist and entrepreneur Cindy Luken, who wanted to offer an alternative beauty product.

Luken noticed consumers’ efforts to buy whole food and organic produce, avoid gluten and additives etc yet still apply beauty products filled with synthetics and potential toxins.

“In 2005 I ran a ‘natural body care’ business for a friend and witnessed first hand how beauty products were formulated and became concerned about what we were piling on our skin – chemicals, and the lack of knowledge we had about the ingredients used in products and the effect on our bodies,” Luken said. “So many of us had made the connection between eating for health but were yet to make the connection with ‘what goes on our skin goes in’.”

The Sydney-based boutique makeup company is changing that. Lük Beautifood sells a natural lipstick range made from food-grade ingredients, including natural citrus, herb and spice oils, and pigments from natural minerals.

The range is free from synthetic colours and fragrances and is not tested on animals. 

This story first appeared in the July issue of Inside FMCG. You can subscribe to the quarterly magazine here.

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