Vegetables, but not necessarily as we know them, are predicted to be key ingredients in fast foods of the future.
Everything from crunchy freeze-dried beetroot, powdered greens, avocado flesh in a squeeze tube and yoghurts with layers of vegetables are some of the foods we may already be eating, or expect to eat in years to come.
A food industry expert says the next generation of food production is following a trend toward convenient, healthy, snacking foods for growing populations of wealthy city dwellers.
Hazel McTavish-West, a food scientist and consultant to the food industry, believes there is big scope for Australian vegetable farmers to see their products used as ingredients in a broader range of products.
“We’re already seeing more and more beverages that are incorporating vegetables,” Dr McTavish-West said.
“We’re seeing yoghurts that have not just a fruit layer, but they might have a vegetable layer. We’re seeing more and more dips, I mean the dip category in the supermarket has grown hugely over the last few years and that’s often with vegetables as ingredients.”
She said there was a big opportunity for farmers to add value to their vegetables on farm.
“So instead of just being Australia’s best carrot growers, that they actually go and turn some of their carrots, maybe the knobbly ones, or the big ones, or the little ones into products that represent some of these snacks, like batoning them, putting them in bags, perhaps putting them with a dip,” she said.
“It’s about providing options for the ones (consumers) that don’t want to take a bag of carrots home, wash them, peel them, slice them, cut them up.
“It’s also about providing options for producers that they can get a better price perhaps per kilo and keep more of the cost of producing that product on their farm.”
Dr McTavish-West said there was also an opportunity for farmers to get value for vegetable matter that may otherwise end up as waste.
Sticking with carrots, she said an example was, if peeling and chopping of carrots for snack products or juices happened in a centralised facility, then there was an opportunity to re-purpose the waste product.
“It’s a clean waste, it’s a uniform waste, it could be turned into a puree that could then end up in a baby mixture with other vegetables, it could end up being dried and turned into a powder that could be added to a muesli bar, or a yoghurt mixture, or even just sold as carrot powder, we’ve seen a rise in bags of powders in pharmacies and supermarkets.”