Ending food waste: Krista Watkins says we can have our banana cake and eat it too


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Krista Watkins, 2018 AgriFutures Rural Womens Award National Winner

Krista Watkins was named the 2018 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award National Winner. Together with her husband Rob, the business-savvy duo have built the world’s first pharmaceutical-grade processing facility. Evolution Industries takes raw products such as green banana and sweet potato and transforms them into nutritionally-rich flours.

Words by Krista Watkins

When it comes to food waste, I’m certainly no stranger to redistribution, repurposing and value adding for on farm food that would ordinarily be thrown away.

With an expense of approximately $20 billion each year to the Australian economy, weighing in at around 7.3 million tonnes of food and contributing more than five per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, it’s an opportune time for real results in the evolution of over supplied food.

The easy alternative could come down to a mathematical equation “x population = x volume of product”, however when working with the elements as we do in agriculture no such equation will serve industry or its consumers. So how can we deliver consumers with the best quality fresh produce, allowing farmers to have their first-grade prices, yet create enough value industries with alternative customer bases so that the farmer can have their cake and eat it too? Well, I believe that at Evolution Industries we have created the ideal working model of a circular economy that not only delivers on environmental sustainability but also profitable economics from the farm gate right through to the customer.

Evolution Industries, the mother company behind growing indie brand Natural Evolution, focuses on the complete end to end solution for food waste. We begin at the farm level by working right through to delivering products that match consumer driven needs and wants, picking up partnerships with Universities and research institutions to unlock and register the superpowers of the products we work with so that we can best match them to make positive impacts on the lives of both humans and animals.

Evolution Industries has created its own opportunities for minimising food waste which started by using out of specification and over supplied green bananas. That idea quickly transformed from alternative gluten free baking products into Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) listed and functional complementary medicines in the form of Green Banana Resistant Starch, fetching better value returns, but also quantifiable results in the lives of the consumer.

Using our patented NutroLockTM technology, we’ve been able to reimagine food by creating time. Something that would usually only have a few weeks to months shelf life has been able to transform into shelf stable, secure food supplies with a deliverable on the nutritional value. In a private study commissioned by Natural Evolution in conjunction with Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) we have been able to prove 20-50% higher nutritional value from our processing technology than conventional food processing methods. Creating a quantum leap in nutrition but also the ability to tackle masses of highly fibrous plant materials – the not-so-secret goal of making a marked improvement on food waste.

Since that time everything from sweet potato, broccoli, berries, mushrooms, legumes, herbs, pulses, citrus and even insects have been able to be transformed and increase useability opportunities in their timelines.

The unique approach takes a multi-product method, for example, sweet potato Vodka came about when we had some run off from the production line and the juice material posed a significant brewing potential. We trialled various methods and utilised pulp to create a secret recipe that delivers a unique and successful beverage market that is exploding in Australia and around the world. A sustainable brew that delivers supreme quality, which was recently announced as a Gold Medal Winner in the San Francisco Spirits Competition.

From the growers’ perspective the process we have created involves minimal changes to the existing production line in the packing shed. We simply utilise the already established out of specification or second grade process belts in the packing shed and collect into mega fruit crates. Like everything we do at Evolution Industries we are moving towards a new model which will enable us to serve our existing customer base and grow into new markets and categories.

Krista Watkins, 2018 AgriFutures Rural Womens Award National Winner


The collective processing model we have designed will see a hole in wall, purpose-built powder room built onto existing packing sheds for larger growers who exceed over 10MT of produce daily and new roll on, roll off purpose-built truck trays for smaller growers. This model enables us to reach into the regions and process products at the source, keeping the transformation localised before being shipped to a central processing and packaging plant where products are researched and developed to meet the ever-changing demands of consumers.

We are very aware that consumers seek the quality and trust behind Australian made and grown, but we are also realistic enough to know that consumers are not prepared or actually able to pay double the cost for the product. This highly innovative process that we have designed creates a true value proposition by allowing farmers to earn a decent reward for selling their produce, even the incentive to include second grade produce or grow for the primary purpose of powder production. We have effectively proven that we can create value across the supply chain and create new opportunities from nutraceutical products and food products, right through to animal products – all with one processing line. Consumers are becoming aware of the successful journey we have created and loving the health benefits for the products, they have also come to trust our transparency and know that our products are what they claim to be – backed by science.

Each year we repurpose over a million metric tonnes of green bananas, we continue to grow this opportunity but at the same time seek to revolutionise and reimagine other horticulture industries with our proven unique outlook and passion for the future of food.

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