Green banana rum? Waste crusader Krista Watkins takes on new opportunities


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Krista Watkins

The past six months have been overwhelmingly successful for Walkamin local Krista Watkins, who 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 bananas and broccoli and transforms them into nutritionally-rich flours.

Krista Watkins was named the 2018 AgriFutures™ Rural Women’s Award National Winner for her bright idea of turning a surplus of bananas and sweet potatoes into flour. Since taking home the prestigious prize, Krista has turned her focus onto the entire food industry and the issue of waste at the farm gate.

Krista and Rob have designed a co-operative model where groups of farmers can join together and process their excess produce using Evolution Industries’ technology and expertise. The business has experienced remarkable growth, expanding into international markets and winning sustainability and innovation awards in Australia and overseas.

“We get that excess produce at the farm gate (which is usually dumped) to the customer – it’s the magic that we make happen. From processing design, identifying market opportunities, product innovation based on science and nutrition; we offer our services to those seeking to implement a full vertical integration model at the farm,” said Krista.

Alongside the popular green banana flour, the facility has now begun processing sweet potato flour and broccoli powder which Krista sells in major retail stores. The tireless innovator wants to help other farmers who experience large amounts of waste to get into touch with her.

“There are always those times of the year where there is oversupply and the market has no value. The abundant costs of sending to market means you lose back in your pocket. This is the best time and opportunity to make long shelf life products that can be stored up to two years.”

“We successfully commercialised into major retail in four months – I think that’s a record! The super green broccoli powder has added a stand out green food supplement to the market,” she said.

Krista’s interest in reducing waste and finding uses for unsaleable produce have led their business into partnering with a local distillery, Plantation Brew Co. Together they are set to launch a range of sustainably brewed products including Sweet Potato Vodka and Green Banana Rum.

“For every amount of powder we produce from our products we have the same amount of liquid. Rather than using it out in our paddocks, we are having the juice distilled,” said Krista.

Krista is also currently working on an Australian gifting website which will design personalised Australian food hampers for domestic and international markets.

“I’m putting all my experience in online selling together to help other unique Australian food producers access different market opportunities.”

Reflecting on her AgriFutures™ Rural Women’s Award journey, Krista said the professional development, the networks and the Westpac bursary have allowed her to not only break into new markets, but have given her the confidence to approach these opportunities.

“I’ve accepted speaking opportunities at various events and these have provided me with opportunities to grow my professional network and meet many likeminded individuals and organisations,” said Krista.

Krista will announce the 2019 AgriFutures™ Rural Women’s Award National Winner at the AgriFutures™ Rural Women’s Award Gala Dinner in September.

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