Plantation Brew Co | Celebrating Australian Food and Agribusiness Innovations 2020
Krista and Rob 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 Watkins have made it their business to reduce waste and create innovative new products from unexpected sources. Once news of their success with the green banana flour product filtered out, they had a line of local farmers knocking at their door. Among them were plenty of sweet potato growers seeking new avenues for product that would otherwise be dumped — it’s not uncommon in sweet potato production to see 50 metric tonnes of excess product per acre. The wastage level was far more significant than found in the banana crop, so the Watkins bought up and got busy creating.
The first product to be developed was Gold Sweet Potato Flour, high in Vitamin A and a natural extension to the existing range of food powder products offered by Natural Evolution.
Even a product derived from waste will deliver waste, with the juice by-product extracted from processing being pumped back out to farm fields as nutrient. Wanting to find a better use for that ‘liquid gold’, the team decided to step sideways into distilling spirits. Soon the Plantation Brew Co was established and the pair set their sights on vodka.
Plantation Brew Co naturally ferments the sweet potato and, unlike other vodkas which often include yeast or dairy derivatives, adds nothing else to the process. The 100% natural ferment — time under temperature rather than additive-driven — is the product’s real point of difference. Working with a local distiller, Plantation Brew Co has produced a sweet potato vodka with a distinctive floral character that consistently beat market-leading brands in blind taste testing trials.
Plantation Brew Co hopes to build on the offering and produce additional seasonal beverages throughout the year that capture the essence of a region in a bottle — next cab off the rank is a green banana rum.
Beyond the distillation dreams, Plantation Brew Co’s chief objective is to create a true decentralised business that partners with farmers to develop a tangible waste solution and creates industry in rural Australia, where it is most needed... delivering a great-tasting vodka on top of it all is just a bonus.