KosmodeHealth manufactures upcycled zero-starch, zero-cholesterol noodles, targeting a gap in the noodles market for low-GI, high-protein products.
According to KosmodeHealth Co-Founder and CEO Florence Leong, there are various noodles in the market today which are either low in GI or high in protein and fibre – but rarely any which exhibit both functions.
“There is a huge gap in the noodles market for such products – in terms of low-GI, there are noodles made of konjac but these have no protein or fibre, whereas 100% buckwheat noodles are high in protein,, but exhibit medium GI,” Leong told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“What we want to do is provide something with the best of both worlds to the market, so our barley-based W0W noodles have no GI yet are high in protein and fibre.”
As for why noodles made from barley are able to exhibit zero-GI, zero-starch and zero-cholesterol qualities, Leong explained that this is because KosmodeHealth does more than just mechanically process the barley into noodles, but uses a much more scientific process.
“Making noodles from barley directly would not only have high starch levels which defeats the purpose, but it would also be expensive – what we have done is developed a process to extract the protein and fibre from spent barley from breweries or other barley-using firms,” she said.
“The starch in these spent barley grains is already fermented away, so essentially what is left is just the protein and fibre – as a matter of fact, the protein content that can be gotten from these spent grains is generally higher than from the original barley grains, as high as 20% to 30%, depending on the source of the grains (e.g. whether they were used to brew beer or make Milo).”
KosmodeHealth has been working with local breweries to get the spent barley grains for its noodles, but is looking to work with larger firms such as Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) which operates the Heineken, Tiger and other beer brands in Singapore; as well as Nestle Singapore which manufactures Milo.
“APB and Nestle are the two main sources of spent barley grains in Singapore, and we would love to expand our grains collection from these two major firms,” said Leong.
“We are working with Nestle on a small batch basis, but for both of these firms, the challenge lies in the fact that the collection process of the spent grains is not food grade, i.e. is via a chute as it usually goes to farmers for feed and fertilizer.
“For food grade items like ours, what’s needed is manual packing fresh, but to do this at large scale would be asking these firms to change their collection system to be food grade which would involve CAPEX investments and a lot of approvals.”
That said, Leong emphasised that in the long run, the pros of such a change would far outweigh the cons, especially from a national point of view.
“There are over 75,000 tons of spent barley grains a year in Singapore, and the bulk of these come from these two firms – but if the changes to food grade collection can be made, we would be able to produce 650 million servings of W0W noodles, which goes a long way towards Singapore’s 30/30 goal,” she said.
“If manufacturers could be given incentives to drive this change, I believe it would make a huge difference in terms of creating a ready source of healthy food for Singapore – food that is also suitable for diabetics due to its zero-GI, zero-starch properties which would help Singapore in its war on diabetes.
Expansion and future plans
Although KosmodeHealth’s main plans are to focus on barley grains for now, Leong added that their technology can in fact be applied to many other ingredients.
“We chose barley grains to begin with as these are the most widely found in Singapore currently, but the technology can also be used for mung beans, corn and beyond grains to things like spent sesame seeds or spent canola meal after oil extraction,” she said.
“The aim currently is to scale up our production to one-ton capacity as opposed to around 100kg currently, and then we can look at other improvements like making a dry version (the noodles are currently sold as a fresh version) or incorporating flavours into the noodles e.g. sesame – these will require the formula to be tweaked which can be challenging, so we’re looking at scaling up first.”
W0W noodles are currently available via SaladStop! outlets and also via online stores like Good Food People as a 200g packet (RRP: S$6.60 / US$4.98).
“We will focus on the Singapore market first with the 30/30 goal in mind, but I believe W0W has major potential for all noodle-consuming markets like Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, China, South Korea; as well as countries with a lot of spent barley grains available like China and Thailand – so eventually we want to use our technology to help upvalue those spent materials where we can,” said Leong.