When she found herself stuck in Mexico as Covid made its presence felt around the world, Miah Faumuina took the opportunity to reflect on what she had observed in the emerging plant-based nutrition arena in North America and particularly the health benefits offered by hemp-derived products.
Miah’s journey offers an insight into how NZFIN’s Hawkes Bay-based Business Development Advisor acts as a Food Innovation Catalyst helping entrepreneurs navigate their way through the food and beverage ecosystem from an idea to a new product launch.
Planning to return to New Zealand in late 2020, Miah contacted the NZ Food Innovation Network to discuss the concept and options for its development. Miah originally envisaged a fresh hemp milk that could be test-marketed at farmers’ markets but, with limited options for scale-up, she quickly shifted her focus to a powdered product with guidance from the Network.
Once back in Auckland, Miah connected with The FoodBowl where she attended a workshop on technologies for manufacture of hemp-based products and embarked on product development work with Callaghan Innovation.
Early prototypes were promising, so Miah engaged a food technologist to develop the product to the point where she could test the market.
“Trying to launch a food product is incredibly difficult for someone who does not actually work within the industry. NZFIN’s Food Innovation Catalyst connected me with experts and ensured that I am developing a product that is not only viable on a small scale, but also commercially viable,” Miah says.
“There have been countless Zoom calls, emails exchanged and brainstorming, and I can’t thank NZFIN enough for that! Dulve and the milk would not be where it is today without the advice and mentoring of NZFIN’s Food Innovation Catalyst.”
With Auckland’s lockdown causing major challenges with access to facilities, Miah explored possibilities for continuing her product development with FoodSouth and FoodPilot. Utilising advice and support from FoodSouth, Miah is planning to have prototype products ready to test the market in early 2022, under her newly developed brand, Dulve.