The meal ‘capsule’ made of unwanted veg aiming to disrupt the ready meal category

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

Image: Anina
Image: Anina

Related tags Ready meal Ready meals frozen

An Israeli start-up is leveraging culinary art and upcycling in an attempt to overhaul the perception of the run-of-the-mill and often unwholesome ready-to-cook food sector.

Anat Natan, CEO and Co-founder of Anina, told an online event organised by the Kitchen FoodTech Hub​, the start-up incubator owned by Israeli food giant the Strauss Group, there’s a gap in the market to offer more nutrient-rich products with more natural ingredients in ready-to-cook sector.

Like the frozen category,​ this sector is enjoying rising consumer interest amid the lockdowns created by the pandemic. But these shoppers often face a lack of choice, she said.

“In our category consumers are clearly compromising. If they want a convenient and fast cooking solutions, they have it. But if they want to combine it with healthy and nutritional benefits, they are compromised."

Anina hopes to change the status quo by offering a 100% natural, highly functional, ready-to-cook meal 'capsule', rich in vegetables and nutrients. The visually striking and uniquely designed meal cooks in a microwave in eight minutes and according to Natan meets all the consumer’s needs of taste, health, convenience and speed. “We dress food with our technology, which gives the vegetables the leading role of the show,”​ she said.

The company -- a member of the Upcycled Foods Association – sources what it considers the most favourable, fresh vegetables that might have been discarded by retailers for aesthetic reasons. These are then layered and coated in a laminate to produce the capsule. Upcycling ‘ugly’ produce poses a solution to the problem of food waste and supports the circular economy. Using unwanted fruit and vegetables also allows the company to pack a large and healthy mix of coarsely cut vegetables and make them accessible to consumers in user-friendly fashion.

“They dissolve at exactly the right time – when all the ingredients have been cooked to perfection, creating the ultimate tasty and nutritious meal. They are designed to create an empathetic connection between people and what they eat,”​ she said. “Like fruits and vegetables, our capsules are made up of layers – an external peel and inner core. They are an essential part of the nourishing experience. They encapsulate everything we love about food and express the unlimited potential of food-based innovation.”

Anina recipes
The company has a range of recipes in different shapes and forms

She added: “We utilize our unique fusion of innovative technology, expertise in design, and knowledge in culinary arts to create magical foods. We aim to increase the usage of ugly produce in the food industry.”

The company has a range of recipes in different shapes and forms and from different types of cuisines. It also plans to make healthy snack bars using the same process and using dressed fruits. It is working on a pilot in Israeli and planning to launch next year.

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