NutraIngredients-Asia Awards 2022

The next Manuka honey? NZ winner of NutraIngredients-Asia Start-up Award ready to go overseas with yacon product

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags New zealand NutraIngredients-Asia awards start-up

The winner of NutraIngredients-Asia Awards 2022 Start-Up prize believes its flagship product – a prebiotic fructo-oligosaccharides juice extracted from yacon – could follow in the footsteps of Manuka Honey and become New Zealand’s next big exports success.

Yacon New Zealand was up against fellow finalists Live Yourself Vitamins from Turkey and fellow New Zealand company Zestt Wellness for the award.

Founded in 2016, Yacon New Zealand’s products are built upon over two decades of research on yacon – a tuber plant indigenous to South America – by Dr. Robert Welch, who has a PhD in reproductive physiology and biochemistry from Cambridge University, as well as 30 years of experience working in government agricultural research laboratories.

Yacon is naturally high in sugar content and Dr. Welch’s research focuses on the ways to maximise the fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) level while minimising the sugar level at the same time. 

Eventually, he has managed to develop a yacon prebiotic juice concentrate that has a GI score of only 40. Each 12g of the concentrate also provides 4.5g of FOS and 130mg of polyphenols.

CEO Jill Chen said a crucial factor laid in the timing that the yacon was harvested from the soil.

“We have been very careful in selecting the time that we get the yacon out of the soil and put into the product so yacon will have the lowest sugar [content], but the highest [possible level] of FOS, which is the prebiotic,” ​Chen told NutraIngredients-Asia.

In fact, the company has received feedback that its yacon-derived prebiotic might become as well known as manuka honey – similarly a New Zealand specialty – in the future. 

“We are a 100 per cent product from New Zealand, we grow the yacons in New Zealand, we make the yacon concentrate in New Zealand, our manufacturer is in New Zealand, we pack in New Zealand, everything is 100 per cent purely from New Zealand.

“We are appreciative that there are some people who say we might become the next ‘manuka honey’ from New Zealand.”

So far, the product is sold internationally via its website, but the firm is now seeking overseas distributors in marketing the products. Countries with high purchasing power, such as Japan, Singapore, Dubai, America are now on the firm’s radar.

There are also plans to add new functional ingredients and dosage formats to the existing product range.

Watch the video to find out more.

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