Agtech firm Sustenir steps into functional foods space to seize opportunities in gut health, mental well-being

By Hui Ling Dang

- Last updated on GMT

Sustenir has launched a range of bottled smoothies that claim to support gut health, mental well-being, and healthy ageing. ©Sustenir
Sustenir has launched a range of bottled smoothies that claim to support gut health, mental well-being, and healthy ageing. ©Sustenir

Related tags agriTech Singapore kale functional beverages smoothies Gut health Mental health

Singapore’s Sustenir has expanded its business portfolio to include functional food products, such as ready-to-drink smoothies, to support what it believes is a long-term growth opportunity.

In the past year, Sustenir has gone from indoor vertical farming​ to launch a range of bottled smoothies that claim to support gut health, mental well-being, and healthy ageing.

Named Superfood Smoothies, these beverages are brewed from kale and a variety of fruits, and designed to provide nutritional value without depriving consumers of the joy of eating.

We are passionate about kale, which prompted us to work with Asia Microbiome Library (AMILI), the region’s first gut microbiome research company, to test the benefits of the vegetable. Notably, we discovered that kale is an important prebiotic that stimulates the growth of various types of good gut bacteria.

“This led us to create Superfood Smoothies, as we saw a lack of such products in the beverage category. We seek to be an ecosystem player regionally, hence we are expanding our business on both fronts of agritech and functional food products to support what we see as a long-term growth opportunity and positive impact to the cities we’re in,” ​Judy Cheong, Head of Brand at Sustenir Group, told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

In Singapore, the smoothies are available at Fairprice Finest and selected SaladStop outlets, and e-commerce platform RedMart. Sustenir is looking to retail them at most major supermarkets in the near future. 

The brand also has presence in Qra and Star Grocer supermarkets in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with plans to “scale quickly” and enter markets across South East Asia (SEA).

“We care about improving the healthspan of populations in urban cities throughout SEA, especially in places where sleep quality and stress levels are reportedly high. We see a sizeable opportunity in markets such as Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Korea, and Australia.”

At the same time, the firm is working on the development of a new line of “kale-forward products” in the RTE category, which it hopes to capture more consumption occasions.

A more palatable way of eating greens

The six-month research conducted in collaboration with AMILI revealed insights on how Sustenir could formulate more products that not only deliver functional benefits for the body and mind, but also taste great.

In one of the studies, 71% of participants reported a perceived lower stress level and had improved sleep by up to 29%, following two weeks of kale consumption.

“Gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, is one of the key compounds in our Toscano Kale that provided this result. Also, the finding of kale being a natural prebiotic that stimulates the growth of good microbes and nourishes the gut microbiome is especially significant, as the foods we eat every day can cause inflammation and affect overall gut health. Furthermore, 90% of serotonin — the ‘feel-good’ chemical — is created in the gut.

“Therefore, we are focused on using kale as the dominant ingredient of each product. Our smoothies are made with organic fresh vegetables and fruits, and not from concentrates. Ingredients such as ginger and lemon are added to support gut health, and berries for antioxidant benefits,” ​Cheong said.

The smoothies are halal-certified, and contain about 90kcal per bottle and less than 5g of sugar per 100ml, which gives them a Nutri-Grade B rating.

“Since the launch, Great Guts and Evergreen Elixir have been our strongest sellers. Consumers are consistently surprised by the unique taste of each drink. Feedback has been very positive so far and we will create more flavours that appeal to consumers.

“The average Singaporean consumes less than half the daily recommended amount of fibre (at least 200g). We understand that simply eating more leafy greens is not always easy, and that it is imperative to first satisfy the taste bud. By introducing an alternative method of consuming these greens, especially superfoods like kale, through our smoothies, we hope to bring long-term improvement in consumers’ health in delicious and exciting ways.”

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