Riddet Institute research supporting award winning iwi owned food business

Ka mau te wehi & congratulations to Kaitahi As One, led by Pania Winterburn and Arohaina Owen! The Riddet Institute will support the award winning Kaitahi As One, with research and development for their frozen smoothy beverage product.

Kaitahi’s new product uses taonga species such as kūmara, pūhā, kawakawa and rewarewa honey, and is delivered in frozen smoothy drops. The product won the Food Starter 2021 Small Suppliers Award last Friday. The win means the smoothy drops will immediately begin an accelerated journey supported by FoodStarter partners that will see them listed at all New World supermarkets across the country, as well as a prize package including development and business support.

Kaitahi As One, in close collaboration with the Riddet Institute, has been awarded $54,000 from the High Value Nutrition (HVN) Ko Ngā Kai Whai Painga National Science Challenge. This funding will enable scientific research investigating the smoothy drops and includes a regulatory assessment in collaboration with Smart Regulatory Solutions.

The research team, led by Dr Ali Rashidinejad, is investigating the bioactive content of the drops, as well as validating their nutritional profile. The smoothy drops may be able to garner functional health claims, as they contain the ingredients from taonga species that are very rich in health-promoting compounds such as antioxidants.

Found in the freezer section of Aotearoa New Zealand’s major supermarkets, Kaitahi Smoothy Drops with traditional Māori ingredients, fruits, greens, and seeds are hand-shaken into a beverage with the simple addition of a liquid. Functional drinks, such as Kaitahi’s, are expected to emerge as the fastest-growing product segment in the non-alcoholic beverage market.

Arohaina Owen who leads the Kaitahi Working Group says: “We are extremely humbled and proud to win an award through FoodStarter, a nationwide competition to find Aotearoa New Zealand’s most innovative food and beverage products. Kaitahi As One frozen smoothy drops were one of the 10 finalists from over 200 entrants. We are using traditional Māori ingredients and it is a great honour and recognition of our team for the mahi to see what we are accomplishing. With our new HVN grant and collaboration with the Riddet Institute and Smart Regulatory Solutions, this will provide our iwi business the opportunity to move to the next stage of growth”.

Dr Rashidinejad is looking forward to collaborating with Kaitahi As One. “We are excited and privileged to be working with Kaitahi As One in the next stage of their journey. This prestigious award is another feather in their cap and well-deserved recognition of their fantastic work using indigenous innovation and local ingredients to support their iwi and future generations”, he says.

“Kaitahi is an example of a progressive and competitive Māori enterprise invested in their iwi by providing employment in a valuable industry,” says Joanne Todd, High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge Director.

Kaitahi As One also won the Te Māna Atatū Whanganui Māori Business Supreme Award in 2019 and the Fine Food Most Innovative New Foodservice Product Award in 2018.

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