Now that brands in the raw snack category have garnered enough mainstream interest (think Go Raw and Living Intentions), retailers from grocery stores to convenience stores are increasing their own private label raw snack offerings—a major push behind Agri-Neo’s presence at this week’s Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) Trade Show in Rosemont, IL, said Rob Wong, president and COO of Agri-Neo
As consumers continue to look for raw chia, flax, hemp, and sprouted grains to stock their pantries, Neo-Pure’s mission is to make sure that no one gets sick, no recalls have to happen, and that the grains will keep their organoleptic and nutritional properties. “We think that Neo-Pure fits with these low-moisture foods,” he told FoodNavigator-USA at the PLMA show.
Plant-based compounds, with water as the only residue
Neo-Pure launched this summer at the IFT show in Chicago and now works with six customers, all seed and grain suppliers.
Though there are already a lot of different sterilization processes, none of them fell into the criteria of ‘raw’ or ‘natural’ as understood by consumers, said Michael Trout, director of operations at seed supplier Savita Naturals, one of Agri-Neo’s customers.
For example, many consumers feel that the heat food goes through during the pasteurization process makes the finished product not raw anymore, and the nutrient content of the product is degraded, Wong said.
The process starts with a liquid solution made out of plant-based organic compounds, a result of around six years of research and validation which started when Agri-Neo was established in 2009. To ensure that every grain is uniformly covered, the liquid is misted in a specially designed machine that turns and tosses the grains around.
“Once the solution touches bacteria or a microbe, it donates oxygen, and that’s how it achieves the kill—that’s how it destroys the bacteria or fungus,” Wong added. “The only thing left over is water, which of course is organic and very safe. It’s just dried off before [the grains] are packaged.”
Poised to shine bright in the organic, plant-based sectors
What makes Neo-Pure’s kill step stand out compared to other options is that the coated grains are still organic, and that the mist is made of plant-based chemicals, checking off trends consumers today are paying close attention to
“If we use synthetic chemicals, it would turn the product to non-organic or conventional,” Wong said. “And radiation—there’s negative consumer stigma associated with it.”
This means Neo-Pure is fit to enter highly profitable segments in the food industry—plant-based foods and beverages generated $4.9bn as of June 2016 per SPINS data, while organic is set to double sales by 2018 globally.