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The Australian Macadamias Innovation Challenge Finals event returned this week to Byron Bay, Australia, giving the most creative individuals in the industry the chance to come together and take their innovative food creation to the next level.
Following the success of last year’s inaugural Macadamias Innovation Challenge, this one-of-a-kind industry event continues to inspire new food concepts using the versatile macadamia nut and drive new demand for macadamias globally.
Research has found that macadamias are a perfect ingredient for innovation as a premium, high-quality and healthy food, with market trends highlighting that consumers are actively on the look-out for new products with that use macadamias.
As the world’s leading producer of macadamia kernels and the nation’s fourth largest horticultural export, there was truly no place more suited to host the Macadamia Innovation Challenge Finals than Byron Bay, one of Australia’s largest macadamia growing regions. The second Macadamia Innovation Challenge Finals have taken place on 4th April 2019, where the winners were announced.
The Finals brought together macadamia growers, industry professionals, food manufacturers and food technology students from around the world to celebrate the ten shortlisted unique food product concepts, among a panel of industry specialists who together selected the winners.
Along with their creamy, rich and luxurious taste, the Australian grown nut is an ideal ingredient to inspire a range of new creations, while complementing almost any flavour and food pairing. This year’s participants were challenged to use the macadamia nut in an inventive creation, adopting either an Asian or Western flavour profile, within four target categories; confectionary, snacks, cereals and future foods.
“This challenge is a great opportunity for global experts and students in the industry to come together in one place and appreciate the unique versatility of macadamias”, comments Lynne Ziehlke, Market Development Manager at the Australian Macadamia Society.
“Inspiring food manufacturers from all over the world is something we are passionate about and the Innovation Challenge gives us the opportunity to offer industry experts the chance to learn more about where we grow the versatile and healthy ingredient, while inspiring the use of macadamias within their products.”
“We are pleased with the success of the second Innovation Challenge, as all finalists, including students and professionals, really pushed their limits to create special food concepts with distinguished flavour profiles and tastes” add Ms Ziehlke.
The entries were judged by four leading industry experts – Pam Brook, macadamia grower and co-founder of Brookfarm, Australia’s leading producer of gourmet macadamia cereal and snack products; Dr. Kiyoko Kubomura, President of Kubomura Food Advisory Consultants Japan; Ben Kolly, Technical and Product Manager at Haigh’s Chocolate; and Emma Welsh, the co-founder of Emma & Tom’s healthy drinks and snacks.
Within the student and professional categories respectively, Kirti Mittal who developed the Britty Macaddy Chikki, and Pridhuvi Thavaraj with her Purple Sesadamia Butter, both won a trip to attend Fi Europe 2019, the leading global meeting place for food and beverage innovation hosted in Paris.
The team category winners developed the unique Soba and Macadamia Ration Cookie Bars, and team members; Hiromi Mimura, Momoka Osawa, Koya Ohashim, Kazuma Konno and Haruna Taniyama, won a $5000 cash prize.
Natsumi Otani was selected as the standout Industry Choice Winner for her innovative Crispy Crunch Macadamia Karinto product, with a unique Asian twist, based on excellence in four key criteria; taste, presentation of product and innovative use of macadamias.
The judges were impressed by the high standard of entries this year and credited all finalists on their inventive food creations.
“It is inspiring to see the industry continuing to grow. This year’s level of creativity in the Innovation Challenge was even higher than last years, as we challenged the best minds in the industry to come up with unique food concepts. It was truly a challenge for us as the judges to select the winners, as all finalists used innovation in their use of macadamias in their own way” said Pam Brook, Innovation Challenge judge and macadamia grower.
The Judging Event and winner announcement ceremony took place in Byron Bay on Thursday 4th April 2019.
Full list of the finalists and their innovations
- Britty Macaddy Chikki by Kirti Mittal – WINNER
- Chickpea Macadamia Barfi by Mahfuj Begum
- Savoury #WarOnWaste Macadamia Granola by Ellyn Bicknell
- Wei Duoduo by Xiaorui Wu
- Purple Sesadamia Butter by Pridhuvi Thavaraj – WINNER
- Pavlova and Macadamia Nougat by Wayne Rieseberg
- Crispy Crunch Macadamia Karinto by Natsumi Otani
- Soba and Macadamia Ration Cookie Bar by Hiromi Mimura, Momoka Osawa, Koya Ohashim Kazuma Konno and Haruna Taniyama – WINNER
- Macadamia and Spirulina Energy Balls by Blake Palmer, Billy (Hin) Yeung Tsang, Qianhui Xu and Melitza Lafages-Vitalis
- N&N Nuts by Pengjuan Li and Zhen Zhang
Full list of the prizes:
Three major prizes were on offer, and all ten shortlisted entries received a trip to the judging event, with the opportunity to meet with and pitch their creations to some of Australia’s leading food innovators.
Individual professional entry
- A trip to attend Fi Europe 2019, from 2nd – 6th December 2019
Individual student entry
- A trip to attend Fi Europe 2019, from 2nd – 6th December 2019
Student pair entry
- $5000 cash grant towards your studies or business endeavours to be shared equally between the winning team
- A bespoke mentoring programme to help advance them in their studies or career.
A macadamia innovation challenge aims to help the macadamia industry in Australia grow.
The Australian Macadamia Innovation Challenge is running for the second year in a bid to get food manufacturers thinking about why macadamia nuts are needed in their products.
About 30 per cent of Australia’s crop is consumed domestically, the balance is exported, the Australian Macadamia Industry indicates.
It states that Australia has the highest per capita consumption of macadamias in the world.
Despite the lengthy production timeframe, taking 10 years for a farm to get up and running, investment from current growers and new entrants is significant.
The Australian industry is in a transitional period moving from niche to larger industry and one that is leading the world in terms of investment in marketing and innovation.
While less than 2 per cent of tree nut production globally is macadamias the Australian industry aims to outperforms in the way macadamias are marketed.
After a successful launch in 2017, the Australian Macadamia Industry has introduced the innovation challenge for a second year.
The program is aimed at generating new packaged food concepts that can inspire the food industry globally and drive new demand for macadamias around the world.
It will expand on this with an increased pool of cash and travel prizes and extension of the campaign to invite participation by entrants from China and Japan, alongside Australia.
Competitors are invited to submit creative concepts for new packaged food products using macadamias.
The program will explore four product categories – confectionery, snacks, cereals and future foods – with competitors required to submit ideas with either an Asian or Western flavour profile.
The 10 shortlisted finalist entries will be invited to pitch their ideas to a judging panel of industry experts and leading food innovators at a finals event and they will attend the awards ceremony in Byron Bay where four major prizes will be awarded including two trips to Fi Europe 2019 and a $5,000 cash grant.
Entries close December 3, 2018.