Australian nut innovators meet world-first innovation challenge

To inspire food manufacturers globally and encourage key decision makers to incorporate more macadamias into their innovation pipelines, The Australian Macadamia Industry Marketing Program has created a world-first platform to drive innovation and new demand for macadamias.

Years of research demonstrates consumers’ overwhelmingly positive and emotional responses to Australian macadamias, and that adding macadamias elevates a food product and makes it more premium.

The Australian Macadamias Innovation Challenge attracted pioneers in new product development, ranging from students to professionals in fields including food technology and innovation. Each submitted creative concepts for a new packaged food product highlighting macadamias within three key categories – bakery, snack and snack mixes, and ice cream, and within two cuisine profiles – Asian or Western.

Australian Macadamias’ market development manager Lynne Ziehlke said the Innovation Challenge is all about driving new demand for macadamias amid increasing global supply.

“We know that global production is increasing and that consumers want to see more products with macadamias. This challenge is about inspiring food manufacturers across the world to take advantage of these opportunities,” said Ziehlke.

“Australia is leading the charge; our industry is really proactive and innovative in this space. We’re driving demand and the innovation agenda to benefit both the Australian and global macadamia industry.

“It’s exciting that the Innovation Challenge final has taken place in Australia’s largest macadamia growing region, and we were honoured to have a selection of growers taking time out from their busy harvest preparations to attend.”

Adeline Wong, a professional entrant who created Macadamia Mind Food Bars, and student Kinga Wojciechowski who created Miso Caramel Cookies, each won a trip to SIAL Paris 2018, the world’s largest food exhibition.. The team behind Macci Ice Cream, Ashna Gobin and Leonardo Bohorquez, won a $5,000 cash prize.

Wong, Gobin, Bohorquez and Wojciechowski were selected as the standouts based on their excellence in key criteria – including taste, presentation of product, insight behind the innovation and originality in the market.

The entries were judged by four leading industry representatives – Pam Brook, co-founder of Brookfarm, Australia’s leading producer of gourmet macadamia cereal and snack products, Nick Palumbo, founder and co-owner of Gelato Messina, Dr. Barry McGookin, food technologist, PhD in Food Science, General Manager of Innovation FIAL, and William Peterson, owner of Infinity Bakery.

The judges were impressed by the high standard of the finalists’ entries and excited by where they could lead. Pam Brook said that all the judges found the depth of innovative thinking from the entries incredibly exciting.

Up until now global production of macadamias has been relatively limited, only representing about one per cent of global tree nut production, but in recent years there has been a wave of new investment in growing macadamias which will see a flourish and macadamias become more available globally.”

We hope that macadamias will represent closer to five per cent of the tree nut market within the next 10 years. Our vision is to see many more products manufactured using Australian macadamias, and the Innovation Challenge was created with this in mind,” she said.

The Judging Event and winner announcement ceremony took place at Harvest, Byron Bay on Thursday 1 March.