The Botanical Innovations Group has created a number of award winning products from Concept through to Commercialisation including Apple Cider Vinegar Powder, Apple Sweetener and Zero Alcohol Wine Powder. Food and Beverage Innovative Ingredient Industry Awards Winner 2017 and 2018 and Finalist 2019.
Below are three case studies Apple Cider Vinegar Powder, Apple Sweetener and Value Adding Horticultural Waste Streams Featured in Celebrating Australian Food and Agribusiness Innovations, Food Innovation Australia Limited 2017,2018 and 2019.
Apple Cider Vinegar Powder
Nutraceutical, Cosmeceutical, Health and Wellness
Vinegar is one of the oldest fermented foods in the world, with a recorded history of continuous use dating back 5,000 years. Vinegar can be made from a variety of materials including apples.
Botanical Innovations were already producing an apple cider vinegar using a traditional slow fermentation process. During the fermentation process a substance known as “mother” is formed.
The active ingredient in vinegar is the “mother” a natural prebiotic that promotes the growth of
beneficial intestinal microorganisms that encourages growth of beneficial bacteria within the gut.
With growing number of studies indicating the impact gut bacteria have on overall wellbeing and
immunity, demand for prebiotic products that help enhance the micro flora ecosystem is growing.
Both consumers and manufacturers are increasingly demanding foods that contain natural, more
recognizable ingredients. In response, the food industry is looking for natural solutions to deter microbes, slow spoilage, and maintain colour, flavour and texture on the shelf and replace artificial
The technical challenge which took Botanical Innovations a number of years of research
and development was to create a unique Apple Cider Vinegar Powder that contained “mother”.
It was important to ensure the product retained two distinct properties as a natural prebiotic and a natural preservative.
Botanical Innovations Apple Cider Vinegar Powder is made from 100% Australian grown apples which are slowly naturally fermented. The raw apple cider vinegar with “mother” is then dried using
proprietary technology creating a unique functional ingredient that can be used to add prebiotics and flavour to chips, snacks and beverages. The product can also be added to a variety of foods
and beverages as a natural preservative for shelf life extension. Natural preservative applications
include backed goods including bread, biscuits, snacks and beverages.
Botanical Innovations Apple Cider Vinegar Powder won the Food and Beverage Industry
Innovative Ingredient Award in 2018.
100% Australian Apple
Research has shown there is a direct link between high consumption of sugary products and weight-related
chronic health problems including an increase in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This has led the World Health Organisation to advocate for all countries to adopt a sugar tax similar to Mexico and the United
Botanical Innovations saw an opportunity in the growing requirement to reduce sugar in food products. They
set out to create a fruit-based natural sweetener that has the ability to function like sugar in every day foods
and beverages. The biggest technical challenge was to make the product function like a bulk sweetener without compromising on taste, mouthfeel and texture. Also critical to the project’s success was ensuring the product could be competitively priced to attract broad application and uptake of the product.
Botanical Innovations started by researching the advantages and disadvantages of sweeteners currently
available. They collaborated with industry and research partners including Southern Cross University to develop prototypes and conduct trials. The initial prototypes manufactured were extremely energy intensive, which had a negative impact on the price. Further development was required to identify a process that used less energy and water.
After 18 months, the team successfully created a pure fruit extract made from 100 per cent Australian Apple.
Apple Extract Flavour and Sweetener is a new fruit-based alternative to sweeteners and sugars suitable for a variety of food and beverage applications including ice cream, sauces, ready meals, confectionary, baked goods, snacks, soft drinks and dairy products. Its ability to function effectively in both hot and cold food and
beverage manufacturing makes it a valuable alternative to sugar and high intensity sweeteners.
The key driver behind the invention was consumer and regulatory demand for alternatives to sugar with
more than 30 countries implementing sugar taxes to reduce sugar consumption. This demand is translating
into sales growth for Botanical Innovations Apple Extract Sweetener as food and beverage manufacturers
look for alternatives to sugar that are able a maintain a products existing flavour with a reduced sugar content.
It has created new opportunities for manufacturers seeking clean Australian and international sugar free labels.
Apple Extract Sweetener won the Ingredient Innovation Award at the Food & Beverage Industry Awards in 2017 and is opening new domestic and international market opportunities for Botanical Innovations.
The company is passionate about create new functional taste sensations that improve
health and the new knowledge and skills acquired through this project provides exciting opportunities for the company in the future.
Creating Nutraceutical Flavours, Fragrances and Ingredients from Waste
Plant Extracts, Oils and Powders
For Botanical Innovations’ founder Kerry Ferguson, the value proposition to develop the business was clear from the outset. In Central West NSW where Botanical Innovations is located, there is
an abundance of horticultural crops that generate significant waste streams. Further to this, an estimated 65 percent of the region’s agricultural output has no level of value-adding. Research that Kerry undertook revealed that the number of health supplements available to consumers, both online and in-‐stores, is overwhelming and confusing; and there is a growing trend for naturally derived sustainable foods that have nutritional benefits and taste great. Kerry combined
all these insights and in 2014 launched Botanical Innovations to transform and refine waste from the agricultural sector into functional food and beverages.
Settling on apples, cherries, grapes and oak, Botanical Innovations worked closely with Southern Cross University to develop a number of proprietary processes combining extraction, fermentation,
cold pressing and essential oil production to produce extracts, fermented extracts, fruits & vinegars, cold pressed oils, essential oils and powders. Key challenges they needed to overcome included
how to process the different fruits, separating the raw material into the target components (skin,
flesh and seed), and processing these target components to create the products with zero or
minimal waste. Botanical Innovations’ initial business plan was to manufacture and distribute the products to wholesalers as bulk ingredients
However, during the process of developing the products, they saw an opportunity to also develop a retail range, reflective of the impact that
technological change is having on the food and beverage industry.
It has taken two years for Botanical Innovations to develop their products to the point where they are ready to commercialise. Over this time, the company has evolved from being focused
on research and development to being a producer of a unique range of functional food and beverages for wholesale and retail markets. They are launching an online shop and are exploring
opportunities to supply the growing middle classes in China and India, and consumers in Japan
and Korea, where there is a long tradition of drinking vinegars as a health tonic. Botanical Innovations will continue to collaborate with Southern Cross University and is planning to engage its own researchers to continue to add to its range of great
tasting foods and beverages that have enhanced health and nutritional benefits.
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