U.S.: Veggie noodle craze spirals into retail market
During the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Fresh Summit in Orlando this month, founder Mason Arnold told www.freshfruitportal.com after just one year in business the group's organic, vegetable-based noodles were sold at Whole Foods, as well as HEB and Target more recently.
"It started from a combination of a passion for sustainability and organics, and also I discovered that my kids needed to go gluten-free, so I was looking for ways to give them normal food – spaghetti and such," Arnold said.
The entrepreneur had already been in the produce business for more than a decade with the farm-to-table grocery delivery company Greenling.
"I was always trying to stay on top of trends, working with local farms," he said, highlighting the vegetable noodles were mostly sourced from USA-grown product, as well as some zucchini from Mexico.
"It’s a fresh, short shelf-life product, certified organic, unadulterated in any way, so we’re limited by trucking.
"Right now we have four different varieties – we do zucchini, butternut, beets and sweet potato, and we’re looking this coming year to do seasonal varieties. They’re all spaghetti noodles, we’ll be launching fettuccine noodles soon, and then hopefully some more after that."
Spiralizing vegetables is not exactly a new concept, but refining the process is still a journey into unchartered territory for Arnold.
"I did some research on the best noodle shape and size, and I hit the ground a year ago. We launched in Whole Foods and it's been going great.
"I went out and bought all the machines that could make them, and I didn’t like any in particular for the process so I invented a machine that processes them for us and creates a more consistent noodle, and a higher quality noodle than what you can get with the other machines.
"We're having to invent a lot of the processing lines to package this in a bigger way. As soon as we can get it to work, we can go anywhere," he said, adding Whole Foods and small natural retailers were currently selling the veggie noodles in four regions.
While Arnold has tinkered with his own machinery, he is still open to outside ideas and during the conference he was awaiting the new Streamer automatic spiralizer from Italian company Turatti.
Turatti North America opened a new facility in Salinas, California just 1.5 years ago to be closer to its customers in the state's "Salad Bowl" of growers, including the likes of Dole Food Company and Taylor Farms.
"There is a very big trend nowadays to cut [vegetables] and have more appeal to the consumer," the company's CEO Alessandro Turatti told www.freshfruitportal.com during the event.
"Offering a big dish of spiralized vegetables gives a very satisfying result because the sensory quality is very nice but the calories are much less than traditional spaghetti, the real carb-based one.
"It's gluten-free. It's going in a lot of nice, healthy trends, including recovering some parts of vegetables that would be otherwise disposed of like broccoli stalks. They can be spiralized and are full of nutrients, so it’s a very interesting concept. There is a lot of success with a lot of new customers."
Turatti highlights zucchini, carrots and broccoli stalks can be run through the Streamer, as well as sweet potatoes and different types of squash.