Community & Business

31 May, 2024

“Quantum leap” for food security

A revolutionary new invention created on a Walkamin farm is set to change the course of food security and tackle the war on waste, turning “waste” fruits and vegetables into “superfoods”.

By Ellie Fink

Robert Watkins has officially unveiled his new invention, BladeDryer.
Robert Watkins has officially unveiled his new invention, BladeDryer.

The entrepreneurs behind the invention are Robert and Krista Watkins, whose brand Natural Evolution has helped change how farmers worldwide view food security. 

Through their brand, they have saved millions of fruit and vegetables from landfill, turning them into starch “resistance” powders, beauty produces and supplements. 

Their latest invention, BladeDry, took many years to perfect and will allow the company to chop and dehydrate their products quickly without additional food wastage.

“We have a machine now that can process multiple fruits, vegetables, and other materials, and we have already tried many things such as beetroot, herbs, whole pumpkins, and broccoli,” Robert said. 

“What people don’t understand about this product is that it is not just a food source, but also a nutritional source, and that's what is so exciting about the BladeDry technology – it doesn’t damage the product and actually enhances its nutritional value.

“We can dry it and preserve it right, and now it’s got years and years of shelf life and doesn’t need refrigeration or expensive cartons, and that prevents food wastage.”

After being mushed, the product is taken into the BladeDryer, where air dehydrates it and turns it into powdered starch. 

The BladeDryer is a “Frankenstein” combination of several machines that cut and dry products, using the best parts of each bit of technology to ensure efficiency and timeliness. 

“That was five years ago, and since then, we have pulled things apart and developed the machine we now have,” Robert said. 

“It all came down to how efficient it is and how much more efficient it could be and how we could have a better air volume, how we work the physics of the cutting and drying, and even how we could remove calories in the product with the BladeDryer.

“This all came from years and years of messing out with different machines and tools from all over the world that just weren’t cutting it for us.”

With the BladeDryer now officially installed at the Watkin’s Walkamin factory, production is full steam ahead, creating their “medicinal magic” from produce saved from landfills. 

Since announcing the invention’s completion to the agricultural community, Robert has already received several inquiries from companies wanting to purchase one, 

“It is all starting to happen now, which is really exciting, and we actually have a few groups from a few areas down south very interested in it,” he said. 

“There are a couple of little horticultural codes ready to look at getting involved with the BladeDryer unit – they’ve done all their trials and due diligence ... testing and research, so they are pretty keen.

“It is so great to have this invention not just for our green banana powder but also for other products from all across Australia and across the world.” 

Having a revolutionary invention created on the Tablelands is something that Robert is very proud of, and he hopes it will put Walkamin on the map as an innovative region. 

He said the BladeDryer was one of the biggest “quantum leaps” Natural Evolution has made since discovering green banana powder and its benefits. They are proud to help people’s health while keeping produce out of landfills. 

“That was a real quantum leap we had, discovering that green bananas harness the most powerful medicinal prebiotic fibre in the world, and we discovered that here at Walkamin,” he said. 

“We are changing people’s lives, and now we have invented the BladeDryer, which has processing down to the most absolutely efficient point.

“We can now compete with the world market, and that’s when you know you have created a successful innovation.” 

The evolution 

It all started with a pile of green bananas going to waste more than a decade ago. Robert drove over the pile, saw a puff of powder “explode” from the green bananas, and had an idea. 

After watching local wildlife eat the food waste from his farm, he was determined to find out why, and that was how he learned that green bananas are one of the “most medicinal fruits in the world”. 

Since then, the Watkins have created lines of food products, skin care products and supplements under the Natural Evolution brand that are good for the body and reduce food waste. 

Their most popular product today is the green banana starch powder, which is made from green bananas and bananas that are not fit for supermarkets. 

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