Monday, April 22, 2024

Greenlea enter bone broth market

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Greenlea hopes to mimic the success of the United States’ lucrative bone broth tonic market in New Zealand after constructing its own broth extraction plant at its processing facility in Morrinsville.
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The potential for this market was huge. In the US, bone broth tonic is a $600 million industry, Greenlea business development manager Julie McDade says.

The company is in its first week of test trials of broth products ahead of its official launch on May 17.

Greenlea was also looking at ways of extracting more value from the carcase and broth products are a way of doing that.

She says NZ’s cattle numbers have peaked and are likely to trend downwards as farmers look to comply with tighter environmental regulations and NZ as a country is losing a lot of value from its beef products.

“Yes, you could say we do a good job with the primal [cuts], but across the rest of the carcase, we just give it away,” McDade said.

“Bones have always been something we have paid to get rid of when there is so much inherent goodness and value in bones. Why not extract that value ourselves?”

She says Greenlea was looking at the entire beef carcase and thinking what could be made from products that have historically been wasted and that were rendered down for a low-value product.

The broth was the first, but McDade saw potential in a whole range of products from the carcase that had not been previously made.

“The sky’s the limit with this,” she said.

“That’s where we need to go with this, to start to understand our byproducts a bit better – what’s in there and what can we extract from livers or spleens or whatever that has health benefits for humans?”

Rather than starting from scratch, Greenlea purchased the intellectual property and branding off Tauranga-based Rebecca Harrison, who had been making bone broth out of her home under the name Restore and selling it to customers.

The sale was finalised in April last year, but a six-month delay in the arrival of parts from Europe because of covid-19 meant staff are still putting the finishing touches on the broth plant this month.

McDade says they are negotiating with both Foodstuffs and Progressive Enterprises about getting the broth in NZ supermarkets.

“The most exciting thing for me is that we are going to the market with three flavoured varieties of bone broth. Two of these will be chicken-based and one will be beef,” she said.

Restore is being marketed as a tonic that is drunk as a beverage. It’s available in supermarkets as a 500ml chilled product, retailing for $13; consumers then heat and drink it.

Greenlea will also keep servicing Harrison’s existing customers, as well as marketing it to the hospitality trade.

“We have our work cut out for us in NZ because there’s going to be an educational side to this as well because for most Kiwis look at bone broth as a soup base,” she said.

The major difference between bone broth and stock is the extraction process. Making stock generally takes a couple of hours, whereas creating Restore takes 48 hours of cooking for beef and 24 hours for chicken.

Chicken frames and feet sourced from Brinks are used for the chicken broth – feet are used because they are high in collagen.

For the beef broth, vertebrae and sawed-up femur bones from bulls are used.

The bones are firstly cooked in an oven for 30 minutes before being placed in a 380-litre kettle and slow cooked at 75degC in water, along with salt, pepper and apple cider vinegar. The vinegar helps leach the nutrients out of the bones and marrow.

From there, the broth is filtered and transferred to a balance tank where it is then poured and sealed into pouches and packed for shipping.

McDade says Greenlea was working with Firstlight Foods to utilise the company’s marketing skills and connections in the US.

In one upmarket supermarket chain in California, bone broth is sold at a tonic bar as shots for US$12.95 each. It was this high-end customer in the US that Greenlea hoped eventually to sell the broth to.

Greenlea has applied for funding from AGMARDT to undergo market research to see if there was room in the US market for a NZ-made product.

In the meantime, they will try it out in the smaller NZ market.

McDade says Greenlea also has the first mover advantage because none of the other meat companies are making bone broth. She hopes bone broth consumption will be a trend that will be picked up in NZ from the US.

“It’s a bit of a leap of faith based on what we know. The data that we have seen from the US market and knowing that trends do tend to start in that market, so I’ve got no reason to believe we can’t mimic that sort of success here,” she said.

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