Vitonic - functional drink truly is a food as medicine


1 March 2021

It’s an easy adage to throw around – food as medicine; but one company which takes this very seriously is Rouge Drinks with their two potent health shots which sit under the Vitonic brand. With scientific research backing their line of functional shots (drinks) they know their product packs a healthful punch of scientifically-backed goodness.

The Australian company choose to work with FoodSouth Otago on the development of the products because of their affiliation with the University of Otago, which had delivered some solid work on the health benefits of currants and berries. Sean Cunial, Rouge Managing Director knew he wanted a product that was highly functional and used geographically based botanical (indigenous to Australia and New Zealand).

“We were looking to embrace the ‘loaded minimalism’ trend which embodies the consumer desire to find balance between adding beneficial foods and/or ingredients to their diet while simultaneously looking to minimise negatives such as sugar.

“We knew there were proven benefits to the ingredients we selected, so the challenge was to incorporate them into a natural, concentrated drink which had minimal ingredients and low sugar,” says Sean. The result is gluten, preservative, caffeine free vegan friendly drink with no added sugar made entirely from natural ingredients.

What are these wonder ingredients? Boysenberries and kawakawa for one shot and kakadu plum, and acacia in the other. “We wanted an effective dose of vitamins and minerals; and a great taste was also highly important.” Simple and strong in its benefits and not full of sugar was the goal.

Nutrition expert Nikki Hart was brought in to do the initial research and project scoping. This piece of work then informed the development of four functional drinks at FoodSouth Otago. Sean chose two of these to develop further. After the formulation and bench top trials at the New Zealand Food Innovation Network facility, the drinks went to an Australian contract manufacturer for scale up trials. FoodSouth continued to support the project, tweaking as they went to ensure the result was a truly differentiated product which lives up to its health claims.

“Working with the FoodSouth team was incredible. They are so responsive and collaborative and delivered ideas on how we could achieve what we were aiming for. They did a great job and will remain part of our team and as we continue to develop and grow, they will be involved in new product formulation,” adds Sean.

So, why a drink to deliver the functional minerals, vitamins, pre-biotics and powerful antioxidants? “Firstly absorption. Studies show a liquid makes the good stuff more available to us but also, I believe we are all a bit pill fatigued. There is a lot of wastage in pills – how often have you bought a bottle of tablets to improve your health and then left them sitting after only a short time?

FoodSouth Otago Technical Client Manager, Tobias Richter says it was an exciting and challenging project. “We were very focused on the functional ingredients and using the research and by conducting our own, we had to incorporate ingredients that boosted the benefits of the key inclusions. The combined experience and brain power of FoodSouth and the University’s food science department was a powerful combination in helping to make this project a big success.”