By Massita Ahmad
SINGAPORE, July 26 (Bernama) -- NamZ, a nutrition start-up based in Singapore, is planning to introduce healthier instant noodles commercially into the Malaysian market next year.
It also has plans for its healthier instant noodles to be part of nutritious food programmes in Malaysian schools.
“There is an initiative with the Ministry of Education and there is also a mass market approach that we would like to engage in Malaysia,” NamZ co-founder Christoph Langwallner told Bernama.
“Our core focus at the moment is instant noodles because it is a comfort food in the region. People love the occasion of eating noodles. Our technology has achieved a lower calorie and more nutritious instant noodle without loss in taste,” he said.
A production line with the capacity of 350 million portions of instant noodles a year is currently under construction and is expected to be in the Asian market by the third quarter of this year.
NamZ’s instant noodles are healthier as they are dehydrated through steaming and high-velocity air rather than deep-frying to keep them shelf-stable.
“It took us three and half years to get the science right. Developing a way to eliminate deep-frying of instant noodles is not an easy undertaking if you want to make it commercially successful.
“We are at the very beginning of making a commercial impact in Malaysia,” said Langwallner.
NamZ has another healthier product in the pipeline, a sweet sauce, which uses a sugar crop as an ingredient rather than coconut flower sap.
NamZ’s aim is not only to be healthier but also to be more environmentally sustainable, as coconut flower sap requires intensive labour and expansive coconut plantations.
“This sauce is in rising demand as it is an essential ingredient in mee goreng and nasi goreng. The coconut sugar is harvested from the coconut tree flower bud stem, which is not the primary product of the coconut tree.
“It is not a sustainably manufactured product, plus there is a lot of risk when harvesting coconut flower sap, including injuries, musculoskeletal disorders, even deaths from falling off coconut trees.
“Our technology creates an alternative ingredient… an alternative product and process that can help us produce the sauce more sustainably.”
NamZ, a science-based innovator and incubator, aims to positively disrupt the status quo of the agri-food industry.
It uses Future Fit Crops (FFCs) that are climate change-resilient and grow economically on marginalised, degraded land.
According to Langwallner, FFCs are crops that can strive on degraded land such as palm oil plantations that do not yield anymore.
“We are working on a strategy that makes use of crops that can grow on degraded land,” he said, adding that NamZ is currently working with the Crops For the Future Research Centre (CFFRC) in Malaysia.
“They have investigated three decades worth of research work in growing Bambara groundnut in places like Malaysia’s degraded land.
“The benefit is that these particular crops both diversify nutrients in our food and help us rejuvenate the soil. By rehabilitating the land, we bring back income to the farming community,” he said.
Langwallner noted that Bambara groundnut has been grown on a small scale in Kedah.
“Our breeding programme is in collaboration with CFFRC and we are working with a big corporation in Malaysia to actually make use of degraded land in order to rehabilitate it,” he said while declining to name the corporation.
Langwallner said NamZ also rethinks the use of industrialised crops for their utilisation of macro- and micronutrients.
Both approaches aim to protect areas of ecological importance with significant biodiversity.
With this foundation, NamZ’s scientists then rethink the way foods are being designed, made, processed, and marketed.
In late 2018, NamZ founded the Nutritional Paradox, which describes the quadruple burden of hunger, overweight and obesity, micronutrient deficiencies, and the destruction of the planet.
Langwallner said NamZ is currently focusing on working with the Malaysian government to come up with a programme that could move the population towards convenient, affordable, and healthier food.
“By utilising the philosophy that we have, the programme could help generate demand for the crops that we actually plan to produce in Malaysia as well,” he added.
With 47.7 per cent of Malaysians either obese or overweight, Malaysia requires the government to act on it, said Langwallner, who is passionate about creating nutritious products for a profoundly healthier planet, humanity, and economy.
“I believe even instant or processed food can have the required nutrients if one really wants to design it. The problem is the current system processes in factories don’t allow that to happen. We start-ups have a better position. We don’t start a legacy. We start fresh and that gives us an edge.”