During my quest to health in 2019, I discovered this local business called “Umoya Foods”. I saw how people I admire in the health industry were making use of their products, & I was drawn to their social media presence as well as their offerings. I have realised that our foods these days are not providing the nutrients & goodness that our grandparents could get from simply eating naturally, & it is so important that we supplement. I currently add protein powder & collagen daily, as well as micro-greens & -reds.
And taking into consideration that our bodies need a little bit more TLC than we are currently giving them, Umoya Foods can provide just that!
Your name: Chelsea Paull
Business name: Umoya Foods
Tell me a bit more about your products: Umoya Foods is a startup that creates nutritionally valuable products using African Ingredients. Our current focus is amaranth and we have two ranges based on the plant; nutrient boosts and instant amaranth cereals.
Our nutrient boosts are based on amaranth leaf powder which is also known as wild african spinach and is part of the Morogo family. Amaranth leaf is incredibly rich in micronutrients including manganese, magnesium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and iron to name a few. What amaranth does is give you a wholefoods source of micronutrients and helps to increase bioavailability of other nutrients to your body so that you can absorb more nutrients from the foods you are already consuming. The four nutrient boost flavours can be added to smoothies, green juices, breakfast and your everyday meals.
Each mix does have a specific profile:
Vital Green: 100% amaranth leaf powder. Great for green juices and adding to pestos, over eggs or even in biscuits to get greens into otherwise green-less meals. A great mix to get your kick of micronutrients.
Chocolate Glorious: With cocoa, coconut, chia seeds and hemp seed protein powder this mix is a wonder at curbing those chocolate cravings while giving your body some great fats and proteins!
Feisty Baobab Spring: A zingy mix of baobab, ginger and amaranth, Feisty, as we fondly call it is a wonderful post workout mix. Baobab is high in fiber and vitamin C while ginger is a natural anti inflammatory. This mix not only supports your immune system but also replaces electrolytes you lose after working out and helps muscle recovery. A tablespoon blended with apple and avocado is super simple and one of my favourite mixes ever!
Turmeric Zen Shine: With Madagascar vanilla bean powder and ground almonds, this is a delicate tasting mix designed to soften the strong taste of turmeric that people aren’t always looking for. Turmeric is an amazing anti inflammatory and antioxidant, and on top of that is known to support brain function which is why it is our ‘recommended’ afternoon pick-me-up! This mix tastes divine in your morning oats or afternoon turmeric latte!
The instant amaranth cereals were launched on the 31st of August and have been thriving ever since! They are based on the amaranth grain which is in fact a seed making it gluten free, naturally high in protein and micronutrient dense. Amaranth grain is one of the ancient grains and is similar to quinoa. We have popped and roasted the grain to create the base of our two cereal flavours; Thrive Cacao and Thrive Baobab. We also added hemp seed powder to both. What we wanted to achieve is an instant cereal that is high quality, free from refined sugars and filled with wonderful interesting and nutritious ingredients!
Thrive Cacao: With raw cacao, raw beetroot, cranberries and cacao nibs we think of this as an antioxidant fix which is super textured and turns purple when you add a liquid! Raw cacao is known to be an upper that gives you a kick of mental energy while raw beetroot is known to have detoxing properties. There is no sweetener or sugar in this mix as all the sweetness comes from the cranberries and raw beetroot! Each bite is different with some being rich and chocolatey while others are tangy and sweet with some crunch making for a fun meal!
Thrive Baobab: A splendid blend of baobab, cinnamon and ground macadamia nuts! This is our high energy essential fatty acids food fix which will remind you of lemon cinnamon pancakes. Macadamia nuts are high in monounsaturated fatty acids which are often lacking in western diets and also known to help lower cholesterol. Baobab tastes like lemon sherbet and is specifically high in soluble fibre which acts as a prebiotic therefore feeding your gut microbes while cinnamon is known to help maintain blood sugar levels. The addition of a touch of xylitols gives some sweetness to the mix but if this is not enough then it should be noted that Thrive Baobab and honey is a heavenly combination!
What makes them unique in comparison to other products: Our reason for existence is to support small scale farmers and we have structured ourselves to work directly with growers wherever we can. Our amaranth leaf is grown by a small scale farmer and solar dried on farm using a solar drier that we have designed. This allows the farmer sell to us at premium.
Our amaranth grain and raw beetroot powder is supplied by the Siyazisiza Trust who support over 800 small scale farmers across the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal.
As amaranth is climate appropriate, drought resistant and nutritious, it is valuable all the way from crop stability to food security. These are the long term goals that we are attempting to address.
Simply put, what makes us different is that our products are unique, as there are no other amaranth based products like ours on the market, and our focus on increasing small farmer income at scale drives all our actions.
Where possible we source our other ingredients locally too, although this will grow as we grow and our buying power increases.
What is your personal favourite product: My personal favourite has to be the Thrive Baobab. It is easy, comforting and loaded with micronutrients because of the baobab. And it is so convenient. I often forget about breakfast until 5 minutes before I leave the house, Baobab Thrive takes 30 seconds make and makes be feel like I’m taking care of myself.
My colleague on the other hand is a massive fan of our Feisty mix, she adds it to a smoothie of apple, cucumber and water. Clearly there’s something about that Baobab lemonyness that makes us happy.
What are your most popular products from the public:
On the nutrient boost side it’s an easy tie between our Feisty Baobab Spring and Turmeric Zen Shine. People love how they contrast and often get both! If you have a lot going on then the zing from the ginger and baobab of Feisty is a winner. On the other hand subtler and calmer pick-me-up flavours of the Turmeric Zen are super easy to add to a whole lot of foods like curries, warm milk, oats etc. which I think appeals to people who like being able to use what they buy in different ways.
Why do you encourage people to follow a plant-based diet: I would honestly have to say it depends on the person, the lifestyle and the intent. We are not nutritionists, just people who do a lot of research so prescribing anything is not our thing. What we do encourage people to do is emphasise wholefoods and minimal processing. There’s a lot that is lost by processing and we are aware of that which is what has guided our ingredient choices. Everybody needs treats and meals-on-the-go but getting in all the nutrients your body needs along with that is vital and a VARIETY of wholefoods are the way to get nutrients in easily!
Where did the idea for this business come from: My colleague was researching ways of processing for Amaranth leaf with small-scale farmers in mind. We started exploring how we could sell it to the food ingredient market but then we realised there was no commercial demand for it. So we decided to create a retail brand. These products would need education because although amaranth leaf is traditionally eaten it is known by a variety of other names (morogo, imfino, tepe etc.) and it was not widely commercially available. So we created a range of premium retail products that would bring us the most direct engagement with our market and allows us to start spreading the word. The result of that was the Nutrient Boost range.
Where can people purchase your products from: We are stocked in many of the health food outlets in Johannesburg and you can see a list of our stockists on our website. We are also stocked in some health food outlets in Durban and aiming for the Cape Town market next year. What we say to people who discover us but can’t find our stock in their favourite store is that they should email us the name and we will get on it. They should also make a request to the store owners or managers for our products because that always gets the process moving along a lot quicker. We’re a small team so any retailer nudges are always appreciated!
We are also available on Takealot, search Umoya Foods.
Quote you live by: “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Anything else you want to add: I think the last thing that we would like the world to know is that we are constantly striving for sustainability. Our inner packaging is compostable and while this is not yet biodegradable first prize, it is a step in the right direction while we wait for accessible biodegradable packaging to hit the SA market. Our outer tubes are recyclable and reusable and what we wanted to do was create packaging that could serve multiple purposes because of its elegance. Finally, through our business we always try to emphasise transparency. To offer this to customers we have a QR code on all of our packaging which can be scanned to see what we are about, who our suppliers are and why we exist.
I love these ease of use of these products, & that they are so proudly South African. Plus they are actively making a difference in the lives of people wanting to get healthy, as well as all of those involved in the farming & production of Umoya Foods.
I am placing my order for these now, & know that I am going to chat to my local health shop to ask them to start stocking them in 2020!