The High-Value Nutrition (HVN) National Science Challenge has awarded $54,000 in funding for research to Kaitahi As One, a Māori-owned business who have created an award winning novel beverage using taonga species (kūmara, pūhā, kawakawa and rewarewa honey) in their frozen smoothy drops.

Found in the freezer section of Aotearoa New Zealand’s major supermarkets, Kaitahi Smoothy Drops with fruits, greens, seeds, and traditional Māori ingredients are blended into a beverage with the simple addition of a liquid. Functional drinks, such as Kaitahi’s, are expected to emerge as the fastest-growing product segment in the non-alcoholic beverage market.

“Kaitahi is an example of a progressive and competitive Māori enterprise invested in their iwi by providing employment in a valuable industry,” says Joanne Todd, High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge Director.

The funding from HVN enables Kaitahi to investigate their product line’s nutrient composition and identify and validate bioactive components present in their indigenous ingredients. The smoothy drops may be able to garner nutritional or functional health claims.

This project will be conducted through close collaboration with the Riddet Institute Centre of Research Excellence at Massey University and consulting organisation Smart Regulatory Solutions.

Arohaina Owen who leads the Kaitahi Working Group says: “We were  extremely humbled and proud to find out that our Kaitahi As One frozen smoothy drops were one of the 10 finalists in FoodStarter, a nationwide competition to find Aotearoa New Zealand’s most innovative food and beverage products.. We are using traditional Māori ingredients and it is a great honour and recognition of our team for the mahi to see what we are accomplishing and to see how our HVN grant is providing an iwi business the opportunity to move to the next stage of growth,” she says.

Arohaina will be presenting at HVN’s Foodomics 2021 conference in Auckland on 28-29 September. Kaitahi’s Level Up – how a development grant is providing an iwi business to move to the next stage of growth.

Kaitahi As One won the Te Māna Atatū Whanganui Māori Business Supreme Award in 2019 and the Fine Food Most Innovative New Foodservice Product Award in 2018.

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