A new freeze-dried avocado powder brings the health credentials and popularity of fresh avocados into an accessible, versatile and sustainable food ingredient.

February 13, 2024

6 Min Read
Avocados on trend: Harnessing the potential of this next high-growth, nutrient-dense ingredient

Move over almonds and blueberries; there’s a new nutritional A-lister in town — avocados. This inherently functional fruit has all the markings of the next big functional food and beverage ingredient.

Consumers are certainly clued in to avocados’ nutritional value and health attributes, and those benefits connect with today’s biggest global food trends, playing a major role in sustainable product development. According to New Nutrition Business’ (NNB) annual 2024 report “Ten Key Trends in Food, Nutrition and Health,” avocados are not only tied to ongoing mega trends like naturally functional, weight wellness and snackification, but they also align with several annual top trends including convenient plant consumption, the importance of healthy fats and the power of provenance in product development.

This alignment is important, according to Andrew Vivian, founder and CEO of OVĀVO, a New Zealand-based producer of freeze-dried avocado powder made from 100% New Zealand grown Hass avocados. “With increasing fragmentation of consumer beliefs about food and health, the most successful innovation aligns to multiple trends.”

“Avocados are well positioned in this regard,” Vivian said. “The skyrocketing popularity and global demand for fresh avocados are clear signs for the future prospects of avocado powder as one of the next big growth ingredients.”

OVĀVO is developing naturally functional products from the flesh, skin and seeds of upcycled avocados — those that are too small or not pretty enough to make the supermarket shelves. It is a pioneering circular business model looking at both value addition and waste reduction.

A well-connected superfruit and nutrient-dense ingredient

Avocados are one of the most nutritionally dense foods around. It’s the only fruit containing protein, carbohydrates and fat and boasting nutrients like fiber, folate, vitamin E, magnesium and potassium.

Packed full of healthy monounsaturated fats, avocados are becoming increasingly well-known for a wide array of positive health benefits, with evidence suggesting consumption supports digestion, brain health, metabolism, immunity and weight management among other things.

 

Harnessing all this avocado goodness has always been challenging because they spoil quickly, making them tricky to integrate into commercial recipes. Many products containing avocado are made using avocado oil, which lacks much of the fiber and vitamin content present in the flesh, not to mention technical limitations around quality, dosage and oxidation.

Enter OVĀVO, with a global avocado supply solution. Its freeze-dried flesh powder is made from 100% New Zealand-grown, process-grade Hass avocados that often get wasted. Process-grade avocados account for about 15% of New Zealand’s industry fruit.

Create elevated better-for-you products

 

Innovation in the food industry is challenging, Vivian noted. “[It is] a constant source of tension for food and beverage manufacturers under pressure to deliver growth for themselves and their customers. Ingredients and flavor combinations which have a point-of-difference as well as mainstream market appeal are challenging. Most of the low hanging fruit — to excuse the pun — has already been taken.” 

Functionally superior product development

OVĀVO powder delivers on both nutrition and functionality, Vivian said. “The high fat content of OVĀVO powder (70%) — most of which is healthy monounsaturated fat — provides a number of functional benefits including a creamy texture and mouthfeel, ideal as an animal fat replacement.”

Avocados are incredibly versatile, both in meal occasion and in the breadth of ingredients they pair with. The powder works well in a wide variety of applications and food systems across snacking, bakery, breakfast, dairy, treats and beverages. It emulsifies into a smooth, stable solution when added to water, with 2 grams of powder plus 75 milliliters of water equivalent to one avocado. With addition rates typically between 2%-4%, the cost per serving remains relatively low, with consistent product quality all year round.

OVĀVO is now developing a finer grind powder (for dry powder blends and nutraceutical applications) as well as avocado pieces in conjunction with Taura, a New Zealand-based fruit ingredient supplier, for snack- and cereal-type applications.

The company is also working to take this a step further by extracting polyphenolic-rich compounds from the avocado skin, as a natural antioxidant for food and beverage manufacturers looking to improve product stability and shelf life. Because avocado skin is not typically eaten, OVĀVO must prove both safety and efficacy for the U.S. market, which they anticipate achieving by the end of 2024.

“There is a growing consumer preference for naturally derived antioxidants versus synthetic alternatives,” Vivian explained. “However, options are still limited and often come with sensory challenges. Our extract has a relatively neutral sensory profile and is showing activity levels comparable to Trolox, a universal testing standard for food preservation, so we are excited to bring this to market as a global first.”

The company is also looking into the skin extract’s potential as an ingredient for the human dietary supplement market as well as some of the unique bioactive compounds in the seed.

The power of provenance and sustainability

OVĀVO avocados have a solid environmental story. They come from the northernmost tip of New Zealand, one of the most pristine and remote growing environments on the planet, Vivian said. “Away from urban influence, our unique geology is surrounded by forest and idyllic beaches, bathed in sunlight and warm clean air from the Tasman Sea to our west and the Pacific Ocean to our east.”

The soils in the region are also “rich in nutrients, and the microclimate lends itself to growing the highest quality Hass avocados,” he added.

Water usage is also sustainable with the region enjoying plentiful rainfall, supplying about 75% of the water needed, and an underground aquifer providing the other 25%.

Underscoring OVĀVO’s commitment to creating positive and sustainable outcomes for their people, communities and the planet, the company is currently in the process of attaining B Corp certification.  

OVĀVO’s journey demonstrates the company’s passion for creating a sustainable future and speaks to its alignment with modern consumers’ values around health and waste, and their increasing desire for products they can feel good about eating.

 

“People value food ‘from somewhere’ more than food from ‘anywhere’ — even if that ‘somewhere’ is from the other side of the world,” Vivian explained. “The back story about where and how food is made is becoming increasingly important, especially if it aligns with people’s environmental and social values.

“If that provenance can guarantee a benefit backed by science, the story is even stronger,” he added. “For example, New Zealand-grown avocados tend to be higher in healthy fats as a result of hanging on the tree for longer.”

OVĀVO knows these details matter. And for brands, they’re making opportunities from this functional superfruit ripe for the picking.

Learn more about OVĀVO and get samples and recipes here.

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