Smooth operators: Thai brand eyes US, Europe and East Asia with functional smoothie range

By Cheryl Tay contact

- Last updated on GMT

Znya Organics' smoothies will be available in both powdered and frozen formats, and are all made in Thailand. ©Getty Images
Znya Organics' smoothies will be available in both powdered and frozen formats, and are all made in Thailand. ©Getty Images

Related tags: smoothies, Thailand, Functional food

Thai personal care firm Znya Organics aims to break into the North American, European and East Asian markets with functional products designed to tackle diabetes and high blood pressure.

The company, known for its personal care products for adults and young children, is venturing into the functional F&B space with a range of smoothies made with locally sourced fruits, vegetables and herbs.

With these new products, it hopes it can help lower the incidence of health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure, which have become increasingly prevalent in many parts of the West and Asia.

Designing for disease

According to founder Witraporn Pimpla, Thailand's natural resources, particularly its fresh water and mountainous regions, made it a conducive environment for growing local produce, with the northern part of the country suitable for cultivating even winter fruits and vegetables.

She told NutraIngredients-Asia​: "We use a mix of fruits and vegetables in our smoothies, and have several recipes that can help boost the immune system, as well as heal infected tissues and cells. These smoothies will be available in both powdered and frozen formats, and are all made in Thailand.

"One of the products is designed to curb cravings for sugar — its sweetness comes from fructose in real fruits, such as passion fruit, which also offers high vitamin C content. Additionally, it contains complex carbohydrates from whole grains, as well as vegetables like avocado and fruits like banana, which is low in fructose."

She added that the product had been formulated to slowly release fructose in the body, allowing the liver to gradually digest it so the customer would benefit from a sustained energy boost without heightened blood sugar levels.

"The smoothie works to provide the nutrition the body is missing. After eating savoury food, we often crave dessert because some savoury foods contain too much salt and the body needs to balance that with sugar. The smoothie works as a balancing mechanism so body can be sated without sugar."

Another product utilises a recipe meant to help balance blood pressure. "High blood pressure has become one of the major health problems (in many countries), and it often leads to other more serious health problems, such as hypertension, strokes, and compromised brain function," ​said Pimpla.

"Because of this, we created a recipe that turns bad cholesterol into good cholesterol by simply using good fat to combat bad fat."

The range also features a breakfast smoothie designed to be an energy-rich 'brain food'. Pimpla said, "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but cooking in the morning can be too much work, so we created this recipe to provide everything the body needs to function properly in one big glass.

"That way, you don't have to skip breakfast, or rely on just coffee and an unhealthy snack in the morning."

The range also includes a smoothie for children lacking in vitamins and minerals — using a mix of fruits and vegetables rich in a variety of essential nutrients, the dessert-like product is said to be a healthy alternative to candy and other sugary snacks for children.

Pimpla added that apart from children, diabetics, pre-diabetics and hypertensive individuals, the smoothies could also benefit seniors, thanks to their convenient formats and easy-to-consume texture.

In addition to the smoothie range, Znya is in the midst of developing a line of herbal teas that boast antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and even anti-cancer effects. However, Pimpla declined to provide further detail in this regard.

Goodness going global

She went on to explain Znya's interest in North America, Europe, Hong Kong and China.

After over a decade of living in the US, Pimpla had observed a dearth of fibre and overall nutrition in the diets of many Americans, who tended to consume an excessive amount of junk food, soda, and unhealthy snacks.

Combined with a largely sedentary lifestyle, this led to increased rates of obesity and diabetes in the country, even among children. This gave Znya the opportunity to fill a gap in the US market, where healthy convenience seemed to be a pertinent need.

Regarding Europe, Pimpla said: "European countries have a limited variety of local produce due to their short summer months, so I saw an opportunity to offer consumers there nutritious options they may otherwise lack."

In Hong Kong, she said, the proliferation of readily available snacks and sweet drinks (such as tapioca milk tea) had resulted in a greater incidence of nutrient deficiencies and diabetes, and this provided Znya the chance to introduce conveniently healthy alternatives to the market.

She further said: "China has experienced increasing rates of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer over the last 20 years. The smoothies will not only help to balance the everyday diets of the Chinese, but will also provide the nutrition they are missing."

Pimpla is positive about Znya's expansion plans, particularly in the US: "People in US are already familiar with smoothies, and are now more open to Asian foods and ingredients.

"I have seen lots of snacks made from Asian staples like rice and lentils sold there, so I believe there will be a high level of acceptance of functional products such as ours in the US market."

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