WellKit director Duane Wells said, “Until now, the big players in the non-dairy ice-cream category have been soy, almond and coconut.
“From there the category trickles down to sorbets, which typically uses a small percentage of fruit juice. ‘My Goodness!’, the brand name that encapsulates everything about this product, uses a significantly higher proportion of fresh fruit at around 60%.”
The Wells family’s Northland based company, NTL Horticulture, has been growing and packing persimmons for export markets since 1981. Founder Lindsay Wells started working with the Massey University Food Technology department in 2012 to develop a shelf-stable persimmon pulp to move low-grade persimmons not suitable for the export market.
“Almost by mistake – or luck – Massey University food technology students put the pulp through a process that resulted in the first prototype of the non-dairy ice-cream,” Wells said.
Change of plan
WellKit Foods International Ltd was formed to commercialize the product.
“Our generation one formula was more of a sorbet which didn’t look promising in the market, so we reassessed our business model and gained further expertise in ice-cream development with former Tip Top research and development expert Murray Taylor,” Wells said.
“Murray developed the product to a state where it was on par with premium ice-cream, but in the category of non-dairy ice-cream – a rapidly growing category around the world.”
WellKit Foods International Ltd was formed in conjunction with co-founder Andrew Kitson, with a direction to commercialize the non-dairy ice cream.
My Goodness! will be launched into the New Zealand market through supermarket chain Countdown this November with further hopes pinned on export markets as well.
“Asian countries know persimmons intimately so future export markets are very much targeted toward Asian countries,” Wells said.
“Internationally we are fielding enquiries from as far as field as Japan and Indonesia, who all understand the benefits of the persimmon and are excited about its use as a base for non-dairy ice cream.”
The new product, in 470ml tubs, will be available in four variants: Mango Swirl; Summer Berry Swirl; Passionfruit Swirl and Kiwifruit Swirl.