“Gummies were our first product format because of their fun and versatile end-user base,” Amanda Vagochik, VP of innovation at SinnovaTek (the parent company of the SinnoVita venture) told us. “This candy/treat format allows us to provide extra-nutritional and bioactive compounds in a grab-and-go and enjoyable snack.”
Vagochik joined fellow North Carolina State University alumni, who helped develop the extraction technology, in partnering with Ripe Revival. Founded by fellow alumnus Will Kornegay, who suffers from severe food allergies, Ripe Revival was recently named one of seven winners (out of 400 applicants) to Kroger’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste initiative. That grant money – up to $250,000 – supported the launch of the company’s first shelf-ready product.
Ripe Revival spotlights North Carolina produce
Initial flavors include grape, blueberry, and cinnamon swirl, which Vagochik said “came to be by using the bountiful and highly nutritious” produce readily available in North Carolina.
“Grape is made from the muscadine grape variety, which is known for its naturally sweet flavor and the powerhouse of antioxidants it offers. Similarly, blueberries have a delicious flavor profile and are also known for their vitamins and minerals. Our Cinnamon Swirl is made from using both pumpkins and sweet potatoes, having a savory and sweet twist on a cinnamon roll,” she explained.
A single-serve, 50g package weighs in at 90 calories with a half-gram of fat, 24g of carbohydrates and 4g of sugar. The focus, though, lies in the protein content – 10g per serving, with iron, plus vitamins A and C, to boot.
The researchers achieved this nutritional boost through a combination of chicory root fiber and the ‘polyphenol-rich liquid,’ which, as Vagochik explained, combines the produce extract with rice and pea protein “to achieve a complete amino acid profile [with] a balanced flavor profile that is easily incorporated into [a gummy].”
The rest of the ingredient deck includes lemon juice concentrate, sunflower oil, carnauba wax, stevia leaf extract, and vitamin E to preserve freshness
‘Convenience of a fruit snack’ with ‘goodness of fruits and vegetables’
“We wanted to make a product that has it all: a good nutrient profile made with upcycled ingredients without sacrificing taste, texture, portability, or shelf life,” she said. “Our Vitero technology, and therefore the inclusion of a concentrated protein and bioactive source, is the backbone of what makes that possible.”
SinnovaTek’s food technologist Nathalie Plundrich, who worked with the tech while a graduate student at NC State, believed in the power of the easily consumable gummy format.
“Gummies have a slightly nostalgic feeling of something that we had as children, but in this version it is completely transformed into a product that we can feel good about eating and that can easily fit into a healthy diet for kids and adults,” continued Vagochik, who added the team does not believe a direct competitor yet exists.
On top of the nutritional claims, she added that the gummies also boast an eco-conscious sourcing message: “These gummies are representative of how innovative solutions focused on upcycling produce and using the whole plant can provide revolutionary foods for consumer. SinnoVita’s mission aligns with Ripe Revival’s in that for the gummies and this technology, we are essentially ‘reviving’ fruits and vegetables and ensuring that all of the good stuff is extracted and put to use.”
The rest of the ingredient deck includes lemon juice concentrate, sunflower oil, carnauba wax, stevia leaf extract, and vitamin E to preserve freshness.
Gummies for the future
Vagochik sees the gummies’ target demographic as hitting key consumer trends of health and their desire for nutrient-dense snacks. Families stand to benefit as a protein-packed treat for both kids and adults, while athletes and other active consumers have access to “a complete protein and natural energy option that is not loaded with sugar or artificial ingredients.”
Broadly, she said, consumers are seeking socially responsible companies making healthy products. Ripe Revival’s gummies are also free from the top eight allergens.
Will Kornegay founded Ripe Revival with his sister, Laura Hearn, who agreed that the upcycled aspect of these gummies benefits farmers, too.
“One of the reasons we were inspired to start our company was to help reduce food waste and hunger,” Hearn told NC State’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences blog.
SinnovaTek’s chief science officer, Josip Simunovic, sees other food categories on the horizon for the Vitero technology, including protein bars and beverages. Meanwhile, more gummy flavors are likely on the way.