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02 April 2019

Natural Evolution

Business ideas can arise in the most unlikely circumstances. For Robert Watkins, the idea to produce the world’s first green banana flour occurred when he accidentally drove over a hand of green Lady Finger bananas on his farm in Tropical North Queensland. Now this second-generation farmer is leading a commercial food waste movement with innovative technology that is reducing tonnes of food waste and creating a benchmark for food processing globally.

Over five million tonnes of food is discarded annually in Australia. Not only from households, but along the whole supply chain costing the Australian economy over $20 billion annually. Robert Watkins is aware this issue seeing first hand, at farm level, the quantities of fresh produce discarded weekly due to strict supermarket guidelines. “Week after week I would have to dispose of perfectly good bananas because they were considered unsaleable for the supermarket giants,” Robert recalls. That was until late one summer afternoon in 2010 when Robert accidentally drove over a hand of Lady Finger bananas that had been baking in the Tropical North Queensland sun. The crushed green bananas resembled the appearance and texture of flour which instigated the idea for Natural Evolution Foods first product, Green Banana Flour.

After numerous test batches, Robert and wife Krista started producing small 6-kilogram batches of green banana flour in their kitchen which they sold through Roberts families’ café. “We were surprised by how quickly our green banana flour was selling. Before we knew it, people where phoning orders in and we were months behind in production,” Krista recalls. The demand for green banana flour forced Robert to refine production processes and after six months, he had designed the world’s first banana peeling machine which increased output to 300 kilograms per week. “It wasn’t long until these quantities sold out too,” Robert recalls. In August 2014, Natural Evolution Foods secured a grant to build the world’s first and only pharmaceutical grade banana flour factory which increased output allowing Robert and Krista to keep up with demand, expand their product range and enter overseas markets.

Natural Evolution Foods is the first company in the world to commercially produce green banana flour and has made incredible scientific discoveries. One of the most significant is discovering the highest natural resistant starch found in a variety of bananas grown in Tropical North Queensland locally known as Lady Fingers. Robert and Krista are now taking interest for international commercial use of their trademarked and patent pending technology, NutroLock. “What began as a purpose and use for tonnes of wasted bananas each week has evolved into a new market for all growers and not just for their waste,” Robert says. “Growers finally have the option of another marketplace for their produce, can earn more for their higher grades of bananas, and save on packaging and freight by supplying Natural Evolution Foods.”

Author & Editor

Tracey Bailey is the founder of Biome Eco Stores and mother of two. After working in corporate communications and starting a family, she made a choice to be part of the solution to our planet's future and started Biome Eco Stores. Tracey is passionate about educating the community about living eco-friendly and sustainable lives through her extended product, chemical, health and environmental knowledge.


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