Startups have to adapt to survive. And that’s exactly what Hayley Blieden has done with the business she established in 2015, The Australian Superfood Co.
Hayley launched the Oakleigh-based business with snack bars; but they weren’t your ordinary snack bars. They were full of native fruits such as Kakadu and Davidson plums, quandongs and riberries.
However, while the response to the products was fantastic, the sales weren’t reflecting the high level of interest.
“After talking to some potential customers, we quickly identified that the demand and interest was for the native ingredients, not our snack bars,” Hayley said.
“At that point, the business pivoted to supply ingredients to food and beverage manufacturers, cosmetic manufacturers and to the food service industry including chefs and bartenders.”
From its inception, The Australian Superfood Co has had a key focus - to help indigenous communities and local producers to grow, source and supply the raw produce it can distribute throughout Australia and overseas.
The company is the largest supplier of Australian native produce and is continuing to sign up indigenous communities and other growers who are getting behind a full range of native fruits as well as native nuts, herbs and spices.
Communities throughout the Northern Territory and Western Australia supply raw ingredients that are sourced from crops and wild harvesting.
“In our first year, we helped 400 Aboriginal women with seasonal employment through the picking. This was within one community; we now work with 10 communities throughout NT and WA and are about to take on growers in Queensland.
“Once we receive the raw produce, we process them into a shelf-stable, high quality, consistent product that we then on-sell to B2B customers.”
Australian Superfoods, so called because of the high nutrient value of their products, produces five freeze dried fruit powders, seven dehydrated herb seeds and nut products, nine liquid extracts and three dehydrated fruits.
Growing native foods is more sustainable than their non-native counterparts with natives requiring less water, no pesticides and no fungicides.
Brands and restaurants that use products from Australian Superfoods include Koko Black, PUD, Ssips, Byron Bay Cookies, Remedy Kombucha, Four Pillars Gin, Dinner by Heston, Vue de monde and Attica.
Locally, Monash entrepreneur and owner of the alg Seaweed brand, Sarah Leung, is a strong advocate of the company’s ingredients adding some to her alg Bushtucker sprinkle which has the flavours of earthy wattle seeds, citrusy lemon myrtle and tangy Davidson plum.
“There’s really no limit in what you can do with native ingredients and we look forward to an exciting future,” Hayley added.