The 2019 FoodStarter competition has ended with the winner, a spicy vegan sausage sizzling its way to the top.

Almost all the entries revolved around health, environment and dietary awareness. Four of the top five sausages were vegan and the winning sausage was created by Ananda Simply Wholefoods founders, Fernando Gutierrez and Marita Lopez.

Realising there was a gap in the market for a delicious vegan sausage, the duo decided they would create their own. “When we first arrived in New Zealand from Argentina seven years ago, we realised there was a gap in the market for a good, high protein, plant-based product,” explained Gutierrez.

“All the top five entries showed stunning innovation, but Ananda Simple Wholefoods vegan Bambina sausage was exceptional,” said Foodstuffs South Island CEO, Steve Anderson. “You can’t tell it’s plant-based, we thought there must be meat in there, but there definitely is not. The balance of flavours and textures make it a truly worthy winner.”

Growing up, Gutierrez and Lopez loved watching their parents cook and share meals with friends and family, vegan products became a large part of the family food landscape. “The idea of food as a way to bring people together is a common thread all over the world, including New Zealand,” said Gutierrez. “New Zealand is all about barbecues and sharing plates, and more people are looking for alternatives to meat, which the Bambina is.”

The Bambina is slightly spiced with fennel seeds and paprika, and although it resembles a meat sausage, it contains no meat.  “We never wanted to make something that was pretending to be meat,” he added.

The 2019 finalists included:

  • Winner: Ananda Simply Wholefoods vegan sausage
  • The Sheep Milk Supply Group with Baa2 and BaaBuzz sheep milk yoghurt
  • Good Puds – plant-based prebiotic pudding pots to improve gut health
  • Grater Goods – plant-based pastrami
  • Porpy and Pinky's vegan Kiwi Onion Dip