From gum to shellfish crisps, we lead the way for food inventions
THE world's first biodegradable chewing gum will soon hit the shelves in what is being hailed as a renaissance for Irish food inventors.
Mr Gum Innovation, developed using high-pressure technology at University College Cork, allows consumers to enjoy chewing gum without risking damage to the environment or unsightly marks on footpaths and roads. The product is biodegradable and non-stick.
Having recently finalised the formula, its inventors - led by Liam Ryan - are now formulating a sales and marketing approach aimed at exporting within 12 months. The value of the global chewing gum market is about €20bn per year.
In Cork, the Atlantic Seafood Company of Ireland - iASC - is making waves with its world-first shellfish butter made from Irish mussels, crabmeat and wild seaweed.
The company, founded by Corkman Colin Ross and Tipperary-born James Grimes, developed a patented process which dries shellfish in a pressurised vacuum for 24 hours, retaining its protein structures. Their flagship product is the world's first umami butter - umami being the difficult-to-detect savoury flavour in foods like cheese.
Launched last year, it is sold to restaurants and cafes across the UK and Ireland through distributors including Pallas Foods and Musgrave and is moving into retailers.
Several other products are also in development including shellfish crisps and shellfish-based crumb coatings.
Also catching the attention of food distributors is SynerChi Kombucha, a version of the ancient East Asian drink brewed by Dublin woman Laura Murphy, who abandoned a career in music to develop her company. Ray Coyle, chief executive of Tayto owner Largo Foods, recently invested in the business which is projecting revenues of €8m within the next three years from UK and Irish sales.
All are graduates of Bord Bia's Food Works programme, an initiative to help support Irish food entrepreneurs with export-orientated ideas. Applications are now open for the 2015 round.
Sunday Indo Business