Israeli startup makes meal capsules from unwanted vegetables

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An Israeli company aims to change the unwholesome perception of the ready meal category by using unwanted vegetables to make meal capsules.

Israeli startup Anina is hoping to disrupt the ready meal category by upcycling unwanted vegetables from retailers and turning them into meal capsules.

Frozen and ready meals have seen a surge during the coronavirus lockdowns around the world, but Anina’s co-founder and CEO Anat Natan said shoppers often face a lack of choice and are clearly compromising. “If they want convenient and fast cooking solutions, they have it. But if they want to combine it with healthy and nutritional benefits, they are compromised,” she told an online event organised by Kitchen FoodTech Hub.

Anina is offering 100% natural, highly functional, ready-to-eat meal capsules rich in vegetables and nutrients. The design is unique and visually appealing, and the capsules cook in the microwave in eight minutes. Natan claims it meets all of the consumers’ needs for taste, health, convenience and speed. “We dress food with our technology, which gives the vegetables the leading role of the show,”​ she said.

The company is a member of the Upcycled Foods Association and sources what it calls the most favourable, fresh vegetables discarded by retailers due to aesthetic reasons. These vegetables are layered and coated in a laminate to produce the capsule — similar to the outer peel and inner core of fruits and vegetables. This upcycling method provides a solution to food waste and supports a circular economy. Additionally, using unwanted produce allows for a healthy mix of coarsely cut vegetables made accessible in a user-friendly fashion.

“They dissolve at exactly the right time — when all the ingredients have been cooked to perfection, creating the ultimate tasty and nutritious meal. They are designed to create an empathetic connection between people and what they eat,”​ said Natan. Anina has a range of recipes in different shapes spanning multiple cuisines, which include Pad Thai, wild rice makluba, date, tomato and mushroom pasta, hot quinoa salad, and burghul and black lentil vegetable stew. “They are an essential part of the nourishing experience. They encapsulate everything we love about food and express the unlimited potential of food-based innovation.”

The brand is also planning to make healthy snack bars using dressed fruits, piloting currently and aiming for a launch next year. “We utilize our unique fusion of innovative technology, expertise in design and knowledge in culinary arts to create magical foods,” Natan said. “We aim to increase the usage of ugly produce in the food industry.”

Anay Mridul
Anay Mridul
Anay is journalism graduate from City, University of London, he was a barista for three years, and never shuts up about coffee. He's passionate about coffee, plant-based milk, cooking, eating, veganism, writing about all that, profiling people, and the Oxford Comma. Originally from India, he went vegan in 2020, after attempting (and failing) Veganuary. He believes being environmentally conscious is a basic responsibility, and veganism is the best thing you can do to battle climate change. He gets lost at Whole Foods sometimes.