The high Australian dollar and competition from foreign imports hasn't stopped Masterol Foods expanding its range of products in the hope that its customers will soon see the value of home grown, healthier alternatives.
Masterol Foods manufactures and distributes vegetable oils, processing aids and ingredients to food manufacturers, from local operations through to national and international brand names.
While Nathan Cater, managing director at Masterol Foods, says the family-owned business is smaller than some of the giant manufacturers in the industry, Masterol has developed a number of products previously unavailable in the Australian market including a range of fluid shortenings for the baking industry. The new range of shortenings are healthier, and perhaps most importantly, Australian.
“They are essentially a different spin on normal bakery margarines and shortenings which are traditionally palm-based products. Instead of being palm-based, which often equates to 50 to 60 percent saturated fat, our pastry and biscuit shortening is Canola-based so saturates are down to 25 or 26 percent, and it is predominantly Australian grown and made content,” said Cater.
“Another advantage is that a liquid formulation means manufacturers are able to use significantly less when compared to traditional shortenings or margarines. It enables manufacturers to design healthier bakery products because you can use up to 20 percent less and the shortening itself has around half the level of saturated fat.”
The pastry and biscuit shortening is suitable for a range of applications and Masterol is hoping to get some of the big brands onboard, hopefully giving imported palm-based products a run for their money.
"Many bakery margarines and shortenings come from Asia, and as a result of the exchange rate, they're cheap too. We have been able to develop Australian grown and manufactured alternatives while remaining competitive with the price of imported product,” said Cater.
"[Palm-based products] are the incumbent in these sorts of applications, so we're more selling our products based on them being an innovative approach – number one, the pricing is competitive. Number two – they’re suited to medium- and large-scale operations because there is no need for cutting and weighing blocks of margarine or shortening, and three – it's going to offer your customers a healthier product because bakery products tend to have a lot of saturated fat in them.”
Other than that, Cater says manufacturers can continue doing what they're doing, making top quality bakery products, but with the knowledge that what they're producing is healthier and is supporting the local food manufacturing industry.
"The main thing that I think will impress people is that the products they're making and the quality they're currently getting from their formulations won't change," he said. "It will taste as good or even better than what they're making now."
While Masterol prepares to release its new range of shortenings to the market, it also has a range of locally designed and manufactured products for the confectionery industry which, again, offer alternatives to imported products.
"We are heavily involved in the confectionery industry with regard to glazing agents for confectionery and chocolate products – products such as jellies and scorched almonds.
“For example, the jellies are coated with an oil to stop them from sticking together and drying out," Cater told Food magazine. “We are the only people in Australia that make most of these products. All panned chocolate and confectionery, for example scorched almonds, liquorice bullets and chocolate-coated sultanas, need to be glazed. We are the only people in Australia that make the shiny stuff."
While proud of these industry-leading products, Cater says Masterol’s biggest accomplishment is simply the fact that it manufactures top quality, home-grown products for use both here and abroad.
“We’re designing and manufacturing these products here as opposed to importing them. Without innovation, I don’t think it’s possible for local manufacturers to make significant inroads in the current market – the only way to succeed is if there is a commitment to research and development and a degree of innovation in what you’re doing.”