Nona Vegan Foods was founded to accommodate the often challenging act of balancing a nourishing vegan diet with hectic schedules.
The company’s standout product was a vegan Alfredo sauce, sold in eight stores in its first year of business. But there was one clear challenge: the shelf life of this delicious, cashew-based sauce was 10 days, limiting how and where they could sell the product. So Nona Vegan Foods came to George Brown’s Food Innovation Research Studio (FIRSt) to increase the shelf life of the product.
This type of improvement is technologically challenging due to the neutral pH of an Alfredo sauce. Using a combination of new ingredients, processing methodologies, packaging techniques, and a modified product design, researchers perfected a new formula. By reducing the thickness of the sauce, the research team was able to heat it to a higher temperature, killing more bacteria. The new sauce also looks more appetizing, with herb flakes throughout and a more traditional creamy white colour.
The shelf life of Nona’s Alfredo sauce has increased to nine weeks, opening the door for bigger retailer contracts—the first of which was with Whole Foods stores. The company has a new standardized formula, which includes recommended processing techniques, improved raw materials specifications, laboratory results quantifying the microbial attributes of the sauce, and recommended labeling suggestions.