Supernatural Fuel is a range of energy pouches made with organic plant-based ingredients and intended for endurance competitors.
They are offered in different flavours: berries and quinoa; dates and sesame; cocoa and banana; and oats, banana and maple syrup.
Their products are vegan, free of gluten, free of dairy and free of added sugars. And they are offered packaged in pouches that allow an easy handling and storage.
“The TERRA Food-Tech® autoclave has been critical to the production of our pouches as it ensures that the products are properly sterilised and have the appropriate shelf life.”David O’Brien, ultra-runner and owner of Supernatural Fuel
Problem: creating suitable energy food products for athletes
The greatest difficulty that Supernatural Fuel had to overcome was the level of demand of its founder. David O’Brien knew very well what he was looking for because the project arose from a need of his own as an ultra-runner that he is. In races of over 100 miles he had serious setbacks trying to eat while running. He suffered from gastrointestinal problems, something very common at these events. The existing options on the market were unappetizing or unhealthy, such as energy bars or sticky gels. Both excessively sweet and so refined that they are indigestible.
David O’Brien wanted to be able to solve these problems by creating a healthy product with blends of natural ingredients chosen for a combination of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. An emulsion presented in pouches because it is the most comfortable way to eat while on the move and, in addition, they provide the product with the necessary shelf life.
Having such a clear objective led him to be very demanding both while looking for the ingredients and while finding the correct machinery to start his project. He himself acknowledges that, as a founder and entrepreneur, he has experienced several challenges. It took him a long time to find a suitable pouche supplier, and the same happened with the autoclave or the filling machine. In addition, he has also had problems when it comes to finding the ingredients he was looking for, with the packaging, etc.
Challenge: make energy food in pouches with a shelf life of 12 months
The biggest challenge for Supernatural Fuel once the mixture of ingredients was finalized was determining the time and temperature necessary to sterilize the food and provide the 12 months of shelf life that was sought.
He didn’t stop until he got it. To do this, he enlisted the help of a food scientist and they ran many tests with varying times at 121 degrees, followed by microbiological tests in a local laboratory.
Solution: manufacture of small batches sterilized in an autoclave
The solution came with the TERRA Food-Tech® autoclave, since thanks to it he was able to carry out the production in pouches, guaranteeing that the products are conveniently sterilized whilst the adequate shelf life is mantained.
Also, having the autoclave has allowed him to be able to manufacture his products in small batches and not have to depend on an external packer, which normally works with large quantities. This meant not having to invest in large sums of bags and expensive equipment which in turn forces you to sell them before shelf life expires.
This made it so much easier to start his business, as he did not need to incur in a large financial investment plus the compact autoclave from TERRA Food-Tech® lets him produce orders on demand all while maintaining a small reserve stock.
On the other hand, David O’Brien confesses that when installing the machine correctly he had certain problems, as well as later with the cooling process. But he was able to solve them effectively and efficiently thanks to the technical support he received from TERRA Food-Tech® technical team via video with WhatsApp.
“With the TERRA Food-Tech® autoclave I have been able to set up my own small batch production facility and do not have to rely on external co-packers which provides me with total control of my business and a lot of flexibility.”David O’Brien, ultra-runner and owner of Supernatural Fuel