Transforming New Zealand’s agri-food value chain

Anyone for cauliflower ice-cream? It’s a creamy and delicious new indulgence created by Kiwi food-tech start-up Kinda who are out to transform New Zealand’s agri-food value chain.

Co-founders and directors Mrinali Kumar and Jenni Matheson are a powerhouse of future-focused, innovative thinking, scientific know-how and entrepreneurial can-do.

“Our mission is to mainstream conscious eating and become the leading New Zealand animal-free/vegan brand, recreating traditional foods like ice cream, cheese, meat and fish with sustainability in mind,” says Mrinali.

The genesis of Kinda was start-up accelerator in 2020 where Mrinali – at the time completing her Degree in Food Technology – met Jenni, long-term vegan, mother and entrepreneur who was pitching her home-made cauliflower ice-cream recipe as a business prospect.

Things clicked and they formed Kinda, with the ambition to create environmentally sustainable, high-quality and tasty alternatives – initially for New Zealand and then globally.

Kinda’s first product range is the cauliflower ice-cream – using cosmetically imperfect cauliflower sourced through the Gleaning Network and Perfectly Imperfect, a social enterprise that adds value to crops that would otherwise get composted or end up in landfills.

Adding value to horticultural waste-streams is a big part of Kinda’s plan for future plant-based products, having identified that there’s huge resource to be leveraged.

“More than 40% of fruits and vegetables are not harvested or rejected by wholesalers/retailers due to being ‘cosmetically imperfect.”

With a $30,000 AGMARDT agribusiness innovation grant (AIG), Kinda has been able to move from product concept to validation, scaling up production, branding and working toward commercialisation – with the longer-term plan to secure capital to expand the business globally.

“Our research shows that New Zealand is under-represented in the rapidly growing animal free/vegan food category globally. So, we plan to use New Zealand as a ‘test case’ market before exporting globally, leveraging New Zealand’s existing sustainable food brand to include a clean new New Zealand plant-based vegan range,” says Mrinali.

In taste tests during May and June, the cauliflower ice-cream has been a hit.

“People love it,” says Jenni. “It contains this unique ingredient that gives a better taste and texture compared to other plant-based products, primarily coconut based, and some say it’s even better than dairy-based ice-cream.”

Watch out for it as Kinda plans to have their cauliflower ice-cream on retail shelves for Summer 2022/23.

Check out their LinkedIn page for updates