A scorching afternoon in far North Queensland, boiling bitumen and a hand of green cavendish bananas crushed into dust by the wheel of the tractor. This was how Krista and Rob Watkins drove head first into an innovative use for the 500 tonnes of bananas destined for landfill in North Queensland each week.
Krista and Rob Watkins’ company, Natural Evolution is the first company in the world to commercially produce gluten-free flour from bananas. It now has an ever-growing range of highly nutritious food products produced from waste bananas and sweet potatoes. Ranging from its signature Green Banana Baking Flour, through to baking pre-mixes, health supplements, skincare, and now vodka.
According to a recent report published by the Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre, trading as Food Innovation Australia (FIAL), by creating value-added products from food waste, food and beverage businesses such as Natural Evolution could be contributing $18 billion in economic value by 2030.
“Being able to undertake scientific research was essential to our ability to scale up, increase our production capacity and expand our product range. I really encourage other businesses to tap into the collaboration and resource-sharing that FIAL makes possible” said Natural Evolution founder and managing director, Krista Watkins.
FIAL supports businesses such as Natural Evolution to innovate through connecting them with the funding and collaborative research expertise needed to commercialise innovative products and services.
“With the majority of Australian food and beverage businesses being small-to-medium enterprises, providing these businesses with access to the expertise needed to innovate is critical,” said FIAL general manager innovation, Dr. Barry McGookin.
Krista Watkins will be taking part in a live Q&A on collaborative innovation platform, the Food Matrix, on Thursday 19 November. Register via the Food Matrix. Natural Evolution was also featured in the fifth edition of FIAL’s Celebrating Australian Food and Agribusiness Innovations book.