Superfoods are a lot like pop songs; everyone loves them until they get overplayed. Kale, quinoa, and acai berries haven’t gotten any less nutritious, but one too many “hipster food” jokes has sent them to the bottom of the fashionable food pile, forcing trendsetting foodies and chefs scrambling to get on board with the next big thing, and as it turns out, that next big thing may be a little nutty.
Believe it or not, the next big thing might just be Sandalwood Nuts. According to Nutritionist Jennifer Price the nuts are high in protein, fiber, and heart healthy essential fatty acids that can help regulate cholesterol, while delivering absolutely zero carbohydrates. The eternally munchy nuts are not only great for eating on their own, they’re also perfect for cooking into things like brownies and granola, their oils even coming in handy for treating minor skin ailments like sun burn.
Santaleuca Sandalwood Nuts are on the forefront of this up and coming super food. “Only two years ago, the seed industry was a nonevent,” says company founder Steve Fry, “Sandalwood was a forestry crop with no regard for the seeds which were falling on the ground. Now that we have started on the edible nut side of things, other companies are looking at the nut oils for cosmetics side and growers are starting to invent machinery or adapt machinery for use in the harvesting process.”
Founders Steve and Michelle Fry starting planting sandalwood in 2005 and quickly figured out that it could make for an easily sustainable industry. Sandalwood was one of those seeds and during the MIS era of forestry were turning over 5 tonne of sandalwood seed annually, to feed the plantation forestry industry. We eventually were able to plant our own plantation and from it seed just started appearing and we had an industry. 30,000 hectares of sandalwood plantations are now growing in the Wheatbelt of WA providing a sustainable source of seed to build an industry on.”
Image source ABC Rural
But convincing the public to go for something new is often the hardest part. “We find that promoting a new nut to the food industry is our biggest challenge,” says Fry, “Where and how to market, interesting distributors, when there is no knowledge of the product within the industry and the initial cost of paying for all this promotion. This is the big hurdle to overcome. Virtually taking a small niche product which is unprofitable at the beginning to a profitable volume product and paying for the processing infrastructure to get us there. In marketing terms it is called the VALLEY OF DEATH. Can we become profitable before we go broke.”
Luckily, Santaleuca Sandalwood was prepared for the challenge of getting the word out. “We spent a lot of time designing our brand before we got started and the brand has allowed us to market any product without the need to stray from it. Big red and bold. It looks good on the shelf, the brand is distinctive and we can’t see any reason to stray from it. As a native bush tucker product, we don’t see the need to go to supermarket chains. As long as we can preserve the value as a niche high value product we should be able to exist outside the supermarket environment.”