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S'pore-based startup says its fresh take on instant noodles is healthy, good for the environment

SINGAPORE — For generations, kitchen cupboards in many Singaporean households have been lined with one staple convenience food — instant noodles.

S'pore-based startup says its fresh take on instant noodles is healthy, good for the environment

The range of instant noodles which has been developed by Singapore startup NamZ. The noodles are healthy and environmentally friendly, the firm said.

SINGAPORE — For generations, kitchen cupboards in many Singaporean households have been lined with one staple convenience food — instant noodles.

Despite their popularity, instant noodles are deemed to be an unhealthy meal to eat on a daily basis, given the high levels of sodium and fat most brands contain.

But Mr Christoph Langwallner, the co-founder of food science company and local startup NamZ, aims to change that, and ensure that instant noodles need no longer be seen as a guilty pleasure.

On Nov 25, NamZ was among nine organisations awarded a total of S$1.3 million funding from the DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant Programme.

Grants are given to organisations with a product that is ready for the market, and with a "clear social impact", among other criteria.

Mr Langwallner plans to use the funds to ramp up production of a new, healthier, high-protein — and environmentally friendly —take on instant noodles.

“Throughout the (Asian) region, we see obesity creeping at a very drastic rate. This is why there is an urgency to introduce healthier options to our favourite comfort food,” he told TODAY.

He pointed out that while most raw noodles are deep-fried in oil to remove moisture and increase their shelf life, NamZ noodles — or NoodleZ as the product is called — are dehydrated through steaming and high-velocity air.

This process not only saves the company over US$10 million (S$13.6 million) worth of oil for every one billion portions of noodles, it also reduces fat content in the noodles by 70 per cent, he added.

NamZ is also working towards creating a healthier planet by incorporating “future fit crops” such as groundnuts, lupin, moringa, pumpkins, tomatoes and cocoa into its products. Its NoodleZ line includes some of these ingredients.

“Future fit crops” are climate change-resilient crops that can grow on degraded land and with a minimal water footprint, said Mr Langwallner.

“Historically, over 300,000 crops were available for consumption but today, we only eat about 300 of them. We are not using our resources to the full potential,” he said.

Other than diversifying nutrients for consumption, crops like the Bambara groundnut for example, will also help rejuvenate the land and bring income to the farming community in Malaysia and Indonesia, which NamZ plans to partner with, he added.

“Through this, farmers can remediate their lands and earn income from otherwise unproductive soil and mill assets,” said Mr Langwallner. The firm supports farmers with small holdings.

SCALING UP PRODUCTION

Refining the process of producing healthy instant noodles and making them commercially viable was a big undertaking — it took the work of 15 food scientists and product developers, said Mr Langwallner.

Armed with the DBS Foundation funding, the firm will scale up the production capacity of its Johor Baru facility in Malaysia early next year.

Mr Langwallner said the firm had been piloting its production line with 30 employees.

Mr Christoph Langwallner, co-founder of Singapore-based startup NamZ, aims to ramp up production of the firm's range of instant noodles. Photo: DBS Foundation

These noodles have only been sold to restaurants, hotels and caterers, he said, adding that he cannot disclose how many portions have been sold or to which firms.

However, with the capacity in the facility ramped up, NamZ aims to start selling its product to retailers.

Asked what assortment of flavours Singaporeans can expect, Mr Langwallner said this would be kept as a surprise until the official launch in early 2020, but customers can expect the noodles to come in a variety of natural colours and flavours.

And yes, the noodles can be cooked in under three minutes.

Related topics

startup food and beverage health DBS environment noodles NamZ

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