Trio team up to trial innovative hemp-based food products Greenfern Industries has partnered with two other New Zealand companies to commercialise an innovative new hemp meat substitute and hemp snack products. Greenfern Industries, Sustainable Foods, and the Riddet Institute (Massey University) are working together on the initiative that will see them develop the hemp-based food products and ingredients for both the New Zealand and export markets. While Greenfern’s primary focus is medical cannabis and wellness products, co-director Dan Casey said it made sense to partner with other relevant industry leaders to utilise the products of Greenfern’s hemp crops.
“We have an abundance of high-quality hemp from which we obtain seed, cake and oil so we partnered with the Riddet Institute to work on background research and hemp product development. We’ve spent 12 months working with Riddet Institute on the product and, after several iterations, we’ve produced some very valuable shared IP.”
The Riddet Institute is a premier national Centre of Research Excellence for fundamental and strategic scientific research in food, with expertise that intersects food science, digestive physiology, and human nutrition.
Distinguished Professor and director of the Riddet Institute Harjinder Singh said the research and product development in the area of alternative proteins, particularly meat substitutes, is moving fast.
“New Zealand-grown hemp and its use in food products is a growth area for our primary industries. The Institute is focussing effort to assist growers in converting their crops to new and value-added food products for domestic and international markets,” Singh said.
“This also furthers our scientific understanding of hemp as a food source. We are delighted to partner with Greenfern Industries and Sustainable Foods and look forward to continuing our collaboration.”
Casey said Greenfern and Riddet Institute had got to the point where it was time to bring a food manufacturer into the fray – hence the relationship with Sustainable Foods. Sustainable Foods Ltd is an alternative protein food company focused on plant-based products. Its retail brand is The Craft Meat Co and its No Meat products include mince, burgers, sausages, and meals that it supplies into the NZ retail and foodservice market. “Greenfern is incredibly passionate about environmental sustainability so we’re really pleased to have Sustainable Foods on board – our values are really aligned. As well, their technical expertise, manufacturing plants, capability and logistics are exceptional,” Dan said. Founders of Sustainable Foods Justin Lemmens and Kyran Rei said that after several years of development their New Zealand-made plant protein products are focused on providing a great tasting conscious consumption opportunity, good for the planet and good for people.
“From a nutritional standpoint, our products all use hemp, which is considered one of the most nutritionally complete food sources in the world, increasing the total consumable protein content in our products,” Lemmens and Rei said.
“We have a strong sustainability alignment with Greenfern, and we’re thrilled at the strategic partnership to further develop New Zealand-made and -grown products to meet the world’s growing demand for plant-based dietary choices.” The first step together will see commercial production trials of a meat alternative along with snack products where hemp is a key ingredient.
“We will be very engaged during the rest of 2020 with product trials, focus groups and taste and texture profiling,” Lemmens and Rei said. “At this stage we plan to release product onto retail shelves in early 2021.” While Greenfern’s hemp was originally grown to supplement animal feed, a law change in 2018 meant its hemp could be grown for human consumption so Greenfern teamed up with other partners to put its hemp harvests to good use. They’ve previously worked with an innovative Wellington craft brewery Double Vision Brewing to produce a pilot batch of hemp beer and have plans for further trials. And they now have a hemp oil and manuka honey-based wash bar on the market. Greenfern holds a research licence to grow medical cannabis and is about to complete the first phase of its powered facility located beside the Normanby Hydro Power Station in Taranaki. It is there that Greenfern will grow medical cannabis indoors using renewable hydro energy. The cannabis plants will be turned into premium quality, pharmaceutical grade products.