Instant smoothies look to become export success

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By David Sly

The desire to create an instant smoothie at home with the healthiest ingredients sparked an idea to invent a disposable smoothie in a cup – and this South Australian innovation is now set to become an export success.

Brett Gresham quickly devised an instant fruit and nutrition-enriched smoothie recipe in a receptacle that only requires the addition of water and a 30-second blitz, but it took much longer before he had the right commercial product to take to market.

His Naked Blendz smoothie cups are now making big inroads in the hospitality industry, but only after a prolonged three-year journey.

Naked Blendz founder Brett Gresham had a smoothie stall at this year’s Tasting Australia eating and drinking festival.

“The whole business hinged on perfecting a simple innovation that enables unblended smoothies containing snap-frozen real food to be sold, blended, served and consumed all from the same disposable cup,” says Brett. “There is no preparation required, almost no clean-up or bench space needed, and the drink contains no added sugar.”

The unique aspect of this product is an adaptor that connects cups to Nutribullet blenders, but while the intellectual property for the Naked Blendz Design Registered Cup Lock was developed in 2016, it took two years to work through seven prototypes before arriving at the current efficient design.

Brett’s next great challenge was having this product manufactured in SA, and this also took time. He approached several established manufacturing firms but was turned away because they “preferred not to take a risk with an untested product”.

Instead, Brett was able to have the adaptors made at Orana Australia, whose workshop supports people in SA with disabilities. Brett says he’s delighted by what the Orana workers have been able to produce.

“It all ties together now as a very strong and cohesive SA success story,” he says.

The spinach, pear and hemp seed smoothie before being blended.

The Naked Blendz mix of frozen fruit pieces and powders comes in five different flavour combinations – cinnamon with fruit and walnut, super green (with spinach and hemp seed), banana choc (with maca root), berrylicious (with acai), mixed tropical fruits and true protein (a vegan blend with prebiotic multi fibre).

The key to ensuring the freshness of Naked Blendz’s fruit components is using ingredients that have undergone individual quick freezing, a popular method used in the food processing industry that ensures smaller ice crystals to prevent the molecular construction of ingredients from being destroyed.

To facilitate this, Brett is buying a large amount of fresh SA produce – especially pears, apples and spinach – but also needs to buy many tropical fruits from interstate, and a few imported goods – maca root, coconut and, strangely, banana.

“Australia doesn’t produce any individual quick frozen banana, and that’s an essential need for several of our products. Perhaps that’s an opportunity we’ve identified for another Australian company.”

The Naked Blendz factory.

With its technology and manufacturing logistics in place, Naked Blendz has taken flight. Members of the public got to taste the smoothies when Brett presented a Naked Blendz stand at Town Square throughout Tasting Australia, and sold through available stock on several days.

This month, the branded smoothie cups reached into Queensland, making the product available to hospitality businesses across all Australian states, resulting in about 500 cafés using Naked Blendz – and many hotel chains here and abroad are currently investigating this fast and convenient smoothie solution.

“The product has been making a significant transition beyond cafés since it was initially released,” says Brett. “It’s now being used in hospitals and aged care facilities. It’s in hotel kitchens, being used for breakfast menus, in the bars, and at poolside cocktail bars in resorts.”

Naked Blendz smoothies will hit retail stores within the next month, while plans for exports are on the horizon.

Brett anticipates that the product will take another significant leap in the next month, when Naked Blendz becomes available in retail stores. Trials are currently underway on a series of biodegradable cups that Brett wants to have in place for the launch of the retail range, which is slated for late August.

He also hopes these cups will have lids with sip-able spouts rather than having straws – “we’re hoping to lead the culture change with this in the smoothie market,” enthuses Brett – but looks like having to create lids of his own design.

“We’ve provided a quick and easy healthy alternative to sugar-laden beverages, and we’ve seen that this is exactly what consumers want,” he says. “Even though it took quite a while for us to perfect such a simple idea, it’s that simplicity which has made all the difference.”

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