- Swebol Biotech, a food technology firm, has collaborated with Swedish and Bolivian scientists to develop a patented quinoa powder and quinoa milk. The company plans to launch both products in South America in the near future, according to Food Navigator. Its new Quiny brand products are sourced from royal white quinoa from Bolivia.
Swebol — formed in 2015 by Aventure AB, which had been part of Oatly — noted the unsweetened beverage will be sold in ready-to-drink and powder form in both regular and chocolate flavors. The company is in talks with distribution companies, with the goal of having Quiny available at retail in Colombia and Peru by early next year.
Swebol CEO Olof Böök told Food Navigator the company's background with oats and Oatly has given it confidence it could have the same success with the collaboration behind Quiny. "It's well known that the quality of quinoa grown in Bolivia is one of the best in the world, so we use the best quality raw material combined with the knowledge we had to make liquid oats," he said.
Quinoa, which is really a seed but is categorized as a pseudocereal and typically prepared as a grain, is getting more popular as consumers become aware of its impressive nutritional qualities. Since quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, it is a considered a complete protein. It also contains fiber, is gluten-free and provides a wealth of antioxidants and minerals, B vitamins and iron.
Because of its global popularity and significant role in enhancing food security in the Andes, the United Nations declared 2013 to be the International Year of Quinoa. In countries where it's grown — mainly Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and Argentina, although the U.S. and Europe are also cultivating it — quinoa is often roasted and made into flour for bread, but it is also cooked and eaten as a cereal, made into pasta and added to soups.
Whether Quiny will be successful as a powder and a RTD beverage remains to be seen, but the ingredient's taste and texture could be more grainy and savory than other plant-based beverages sourced from oat, soy and nuts. However, Swebol said the products will contain no added sugar, so consumers who want to limit sweetening may find that an added advantage. They will also be certified organic and fair trade, which could appeal to people looking for those attributes.
According to Food Navigator, Quiny will contain water, quinoa, canola oil, calcium carbonate, pectin and salt. The product's patent describes the manufacturing process as washing the seeds to remove the bitter saponins, which are phytochemicals the plant uses to protect itself from predators. The seeds are then milled and heated, and an enzyme is added to degrade starch. Next, oil and calcium are added, as well as acacia gum to thicken the product to achieve the consistency of yogurt or sour cream.
Swebol emphasizes the sustainability attributes of quinoa and noted it has been working with Bolivian growers on long-term supplies. Mauricio Peñarrieta, an assistant professor of food science at the University of La Paz San Andres, told Food Navigator the project has helped encourage young people to grow quinoa rather than leave for other jobs. He also said the value-added products could help smooth out quinoa price fluctuations and bolster economic development in Bolivia's agricultural communities.
It's taken time for the plant-based beverage category to move beyond initial sourcing from soy, almond, rice and coconut to peas, brown rice, oats and now quinoa. Consumers like to try new products, so something different could appeal to those tired of the same old thing. Quinoa is also drought-tolerant and doesn't require a lot of water, so those factors may add to its sustainability credentials.
According to MarketWatch, the global plant-based beverage market is projected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of more than 11% from this year through 2023. The market was valued at $11.16 billion in 2017. It is expected to reach $19.67 billion by 2023, Improve reported, as consumers make more flexitarian dietary choices and eat fewer animal-based products.
These developments may enhance new plant-based beverage introductions. As consumers look at purchasing more lower-calorie foods with higher nutritional value, it could play to quinoa's benefit — and potentially to Swebol's.