New Zealand company turns upcycled avocado into freeze-dried powder

Avocados have become a kitchen staple in many households, but it turns out we're throwing a lot of their nutrients in the bin. 

A Kiwi start-up has found a way to harness the goodness of the fruit's flesh, skin and stone, by turning it into a longer-lasting, more versatile and sustainable food ingredient. 

Attention health enthusiasts, there's a new nutritional A-Lister on the horizon - avocado skin. 

"There's obviously some pretty powerful stuff in there and the antioxidant," Ovavo CEO and founder Andrew Vivian told Newshub.  

"We're looking at creating a clean label food preservative for the food and beverage industry, and potentially for human health supplements," he added. 

The company is already upcycling avocado flesh into a longer-lasting freeze-dried powder which could soon be incorporated into a range of everyday products. 

"From ice cream, to muesli bars, to chocolate, to tortilla wraps, to muffins, you name it," Vivian listed.  

With the financial backing of MPI's sustainable food and fibre futures fund, the company's next goal is to prove the skin is also safe for human consumption. 

"We're working with a lab in the US around toxicology, we're working with Massey University to look at how it performs in different food groups and we're working with Callaghan Innovation who are doing a lot of the research around the efficacy side of it," he said. 

"What we have found is pretty exciting." 

The Avocado Collective in the North Island is the largest grower market in New Zealand, accounting for nearly 20 percent of the industry, across its 1000 hectares of land. 

But with produce, comes waste. 

Between 10 and 15 percent of avocados grown in New Zealand are deemed process-oil grade and therefore not good enough for supermarket shelves. That equates to roughly 5000 to 7000 tonnes of waste each year.  

Ovavo's mission is to one day upcycle all of that fruit into a nutrient-dense and sustainable food ingredient. 

By the beginning of next year, Ovavo hopes to launch the skin extract into the local and global market. 

"In the US it's a big thing, you're talking 50 tonnes of powder for one brand alone in the coffee crema space," Vivian told Newshub. 

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise believe businesses like Ovavo are the future. 

"New Zealand can no longer rely on our main commodity items," general manager Craig Hudson said. 

"Companies like this which are unlocking potential multi-billion dollar opportunities for us for NZ to prosper, to increase productivity, you can't put a price tag on that because it is effectively redefining the New Zealand economy."

And there are plans to explore the cognitive health benefits of the avocado stone as well. 

It seems the opportunities from this functional fruit are ripe for the picking.