Life on the land in Australia

Banana skincare, Qld flour company to expand into overseas markets

A far north Queensland farmer, who turns waste bananas into flour, skincare and cosmetics, has struck an international deal that will see his business expand globally.

Rob Watkins got into the banana industry over 15 years ago, growing ladyfinger bananas, and soon realised the large amount of product not suitable for supermarkets.

“If you are doing a high quality job, you might throw out 12 to 15 per cent of your crop because they are out of shape, marks on the skin, damaged on the skin but inside they are still perfect,” he said.

“Sometimes in the year you might chuck out 40 per cent because the market is over-supplied.

“They get chopped up and dumped.”

Mr Watkins founded Natural Evolution Foods to create an alternative market for the green bananas that were dumped.

The multi-million dollar company developed a manufacturing system that processes the “waste” bananas and creates resistance starch multifibre and gluten free baking flour from the fruit and cosmetics, skincare and ointment from the banana peel.

On Wednesday, Mr Watkins announced the company would be expanding internationally with a “mega factory”.

“The new mega factory, to be built on our existing Walkamin site and sent overseas where it will be constructed will allow even more jobs to be created in coming years,” he said.

“This factory just redefines everything, it gives Australia a chance to manufacture again, I am very passionate about that.

“We have to focus on what drives Australia…food is medicine and food is health, if we don’t look after food what else are we going to have.

“We (Australia) are 1 per cent of the world’s bananas, bananas are the fourth largest crop grown on earth…all these problems we have, the rest of the world has.

“We have an incredible, incomprehensible amount of waste on this planet and we can make our powder food source, we can give products three year’s shelf life and that is a big call.”

Mr Watkins said a recent $250,000 funding investment into his company from the Advance Queensland Ignite Ideas Fund helped him explore overseas interests.

Innovation Minister Leeanne Enoch said the Advance Queensland Ignite Ideas Fund has backed 119 small businesses with nearly $16.5 million in funding so far.

“Natural Evolution Foods is a great example of what can be achieved with creativity and hard work,” Ms Enoch said.

“It’s a great example of why this government is investing in people and companies to help turn new ideas into new industries and new jobs”.

Natural Evolution founder Rob Watkins talks about going global

Advance Queensland #IgniteIdeas funding recipients Natural Evolution Foods are set to become a household name around the world off the back of their highly nutritious banana flour, health supplements, healing ointments and skincare items.The company grows and produces in Far North #Queensland, with plans to expand to south-east Asia, Europe and North America in the next 12 months. And their sustainable ingenuity in utilising waste bananas for new products has even earned them a much sought-after trophy at the Edison Awards in New York.This is #innovation at its absolute peak, and it's happening right here in our state!Read more: http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2017/7/5/palaszczuk-governmentbacked-banana-farmer-on-the-road-to-global-success#AdvanceQueensland, #StartupState, #FNQ.

Posted by Leeanne Enoch MP on Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Henry Sapiecha

July 6th, 2017

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