9th June 2021 By Bridget O'Connell | firstname.lastname@example.org | @foodtickernz
New Zealand venture Ovāvo is targeting the nascent global avocado powder market with the launch of a new freeze-dried product that will be sold as a commercial ingredient to food manufacturers.
The Ovāvo product has been developed by a team of food and avocado experts including the company’s general manager, Andrew Vivian, and King Avocado’s Alistair Nicholson. Vivian, who has a background in FMCG sales and marketing, co-founded New Zealand food business Tasty Pot, which he sold to Pitango in 2018.
The company uses process grade fruit bought from King Avocado’s 100,000-strong Northland orchard for the powder, which is manufactured by Auckland-based freeze dried ingredient specialist Fresh As.
“We asked ourselves what could we do to find a better outlet for process grade fruit for the entire industry,” Vivian told the Ticker.
“Ultimately we don’t want to waste this beautiful fruit which is almost a miracle to grow and one of the most nutritionally complete fruit in the world – they are literally a superfood.
“We felt like there was a whole lot of things we could be doing with the process grade fruit moving up the value chain and at the same time removing it from the waste-stream.”
Around 10% of New Zealand’s current annual 40,000 tonne avocado crop is considered process grade fruit – too small or blemished to be sold as fruit.
At present, Ovāvo only buys fruit from sister company King Avocado but the goal is to grow to have a 10% share of the New Zealand avocado waste fruit market, as well as unlocking a global market opportunity for avocado powder which, according to Vivian, is far less crowded than the avocado fruit market.
“On a global stage, New Zealand is very small producer of avocados, the Mexicans are the giants, and you have the Peruvians and Californians, so we are very small producer and it is an industry that has grown really fast [and become crowded],” Vivian said.
“We are only a really small part of it, but we feel that at this stage there is not the same number of avocado powder producers….so we want to scale-up as quickly as we can.
“The supply side opportunity is there, what we need to do is grow the demand side opportunity. If this goes well [the global potential] is for it to be bigger [in revenue terms] than our fresh produce.”
The team has spent more than 12 months developing Ovāvo, which has seen it work closely with food scientists from Callaghan Development. It has also conducted prototype product development with Massey University’s food technology department, which has successfully trialled the powder in products such as ice-cream, truffles, hummus and tortilla wraps.
Australian and New Zealand food distributor Invita has now been contracted to sell Ovāvo and work with food manufacturers here and across the ditch on new product development, which could take anywhere between six months to two years.
“If you are a manufacturer trying to come up with your next innovation,” Vivian said.
“You’re trying to think of new ingredients and recipes that have a point of difference to your competitors because are looking to develop something that is unique to the supermarket category and adds value not just another me-too product. But you’ve also got to find that balance with products that appeal to the mainstream.
“That tension must be managed – you can come up with new products but if they don’t have appeal to the mass market then it is probably not sustainable. That is where we think avocado has a lot of potential because it is a well-known and loved fruit, so that’s where we think we are at an advantage as the goodness of avocado on a label would certainly be attractive.”
Ovāvo is also working with New Zealand Trade & Enterprise to evaluate market opportunities further afield.
The company is owned by New Zealand registered Valic NZ, which also owns the 160ha King Avocado orchard about 20km north of Kaitaia. Valic is controlled by Vulpes Agricultural Land Investment Company, owned by Singapore-based Stephen Diggle.
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