The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is enabling New Zealand to tap into the growing market for plant-based products, where vegetables feature as a 'centre of the plate' item.
A diverse range of new processed vegetable products is now available on the market, thanks to $147,000 investment from MPI's Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) fund – and more innovation is underway.
The 2-year project led by Food Nation, which kicked off in mid-2019, aimed to develop a range of plant-based 'meat alternative' foods using mushroom seconds and an array of other more novel plants.
One year on, it has made some exciting progress.
"Many of the plant-based meals currently on the market revolve around 'fake meat'," says Miranda Burdon, co-founder of Food Nation.
"They try to reflect the taste and texture of meat, rather than showcasing the various plants they are made of. The products we're developing are predominantly and unashamedly made of mushrooms, grains, and vegetables. They are free from soy, dairy, and gluten so people with all types of diets can enjoy them."
The Auckland-based company is using fresh New Zealand ingredients as much as possible, working in partnership with New Zealand producers such as Meadow Mushrooms, Kiwi Quinoa, Hemp Farm, and the Pure NZ Buckwheat Co.
"We're aiming our products at the 'reduce-a-tarians' market – including vegans and vegetarians as much as anyone who wants to eat less meat, but still want something substantial that tastes amazing," says Ms Burdon.
For more information: mpi.govt.nz