Natural Evolution | Celebrating Australian Food and Agribusiness Innovations 2021
Krista and Rob Watkins have a history of turning waste into profits. Known for their Natural Evolution brand of products including a gluten-free green banana flour, the pair have extended the line to deliver GUTHEALTH+, to support, enhance and promote gut health.
The Watkins hail from Walkamin in Far North Queensland’s fertile Atherton Tablelands region. Their Natural Evolution brand of health and beauty products stems from a belief that the ultimate nutrition begins with healthy soil and plants. The duo has made it their business to reduce waste and create innovative new products from unexpected sources, including green banana and gold sweet potato flours — offering gluten-free alternatives to traditional wheat flours.
When looking to maximise the prebiotic ability of the green banana resistant starch, the Watkins utilised the high Vitamin A content of their sweet potato flour, along with the addition of vegan probiotics, to develop GUTHEALTH+ — a unique synergy of three fibre groups, vitamins and minerals that delivers an all-natural product designed to optimise gut health.
Developing the product took time, requiring trial and error to determine the perfect balance of plant fibres and probiotics to ensure palatability derived from only all-natural ingredients. The result is a tested and proven product derived from sustainable foods that is entirely free from allergens and packed with fermentable, soluble and insoluble fibres, as well as digestive functional probiotic Bacillus coagulans. GUTHEALTH+ is registered as a food with health claims through FSANZ including support and protection of a healthy gut microbiome and support of gut barrier health, among others.
Natural Evolution was able to develop the product using its patent pending NutroLock food processing technology. NutroLock is a fully inline, cold, raw, low-speed technique that locks in 20–50 times more nutrition than other processing methods. The team has developed a new Blade Dry model that can simultaneously mill and dry large volumes of highly fibrous material, delivering an end product that has greater nutritional integrity.
FIAL’s funding allowed Natural Evolution to execute and deliver the new drying technology, which will advance opportunities for Australian producers and businesses that require transformation or disposal of organic matter, pharmaceutical production, foods or wet waste reduction on a commercial scale.
COVID-19 delayed completion of development by almost 12 months, but Krista says the extended time allowed Natural Evolution to conduct all of the necessary research and development required to ensure that the technology and processes were refined and could deliver the initial project objectives.
“Having access to funding from FIAL allowed us to evolve faster as a business. Despite the delays caused by COVID-19, using the funding to invest solidly in research and development allowed us to fast-track both the drying technology and the GUTHEALTH+ product itself,” she said.
Natural Evolution’s parent company Evolution Industries will now take the new technology to farms around Australia to create more scientifically verified functional foods.