The right sauce for a healthier 2016
According to food entrepreneurs Oraine Gordon and Lionel Blackwood, choosing the correct sauce makes all the difference to eating healthy.
"The inspiration to start the food brand Yaad Flava came out of a challenge from one of my lecturers at the University of Technology (UTech), to find a solution to anaemia - the iron deficiency - prevalent within our population," he said.
"I came up with the idea to make friendly, vegan, tasty, functional sauces because I wanted to create a simple, practical and sustainable solution to the problem of anaemia. Research revealed that Jamaicans are a sauce-loving nation, so I creating sauces which included nutritious ingredients to help Jamaica become healthier," said the medical technology major, Gordon.
And now, Yaad Flava is a winner despite just being launched in 2013. They are also being applauded for taking three years to move from idea to product and getting on some of the best supermarket shelves in Kingston. These include Lee's Food Fair (Boulevard Shopping Centre), Sovereign Supermarket and General Foods in Liguanea. They have also kept their raw materials and packaging Jamaican.
Blackwood, Yaad Flava's strategic sales specialist, told The Gleaner, "People are applauding our authentic Jamaican products. Everything about the sauce is Jamaican. We wanted to create a Jamaican product, which would be internationally recognised not just for its flavour, spices and herbs but for its healthy and nutritious content."
With the desire to inspire their consumers to start looking at labels and to learn about food before purchasing and taking it home, Blackwood, who is an active father of two, as well as a correctional officer by day at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre and a masseur on weekends, explained, "Consumers have to start to question whether they are eating to live or eating to die. If people were more aware of the ingredients in packaged food, they would shop and eat differently," he said.
He noted that ingredients like rocket fuel and carcinogens are often used and although one Food, Beverage, and Agriculture (FBA) report states that while these are only in minimal amounts, it has been proven that if consumed over a long period, these will cause damage to health.
Gordon concurred, adding: "Everything you eat adds up. In Europe, many of the ingredients in products which are manufactured and sold on Jamaican supermarket shelves are banned on their own shores. Yaad Flava wants to challenge such brands with our healthy options."
The duo's friendship began at Kingston College, and in 1996 they decided to combine their professional skill sets; a fusion of sales, marketing, science, agriculture, food processing and engineering.
Collectively they now have three Yaad Flava sauces and a jerk condiment. "We do not have any artificial colouring, additives, preservatives and flavours in our products; the only sauce which has a stabiliser is the molasses. All the products are low in sodium," said Blackwood.
VERSATILE DIPPING SAUCE
"The Yaad Flava Sweet and Spicy Molasses Sauce was designed as a versatile dipping sauce to assist people suffering from iron deficiency. This group includes individuals who are suffering from lupus, women between the ages of 15-55 and mothers after delivery.
The Pimento Bar-B-Q Sauce stimulates the gastrointestinal tract and digestive system to aid in the digestion of meats. Pimento is used in the treatment of dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps) and dyspepsia (upset stomach).
Continuing, he said, "Our products are versatile and can be eaten by vegetarians. They all have a premium taste because they are highly concentrated. The flavour speaks for itself. Our ketchup includes 33 per cent tomatoes compared to the typical seven to nine [per cent] average found in other branded ketchups."
However, the young businessmen are not only focusing on functional foods, they also plan to work on beverages designed for people who suffer from lifestyle diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, not forgetting certain types of cancer.
The self-confessed sauce lovers advise young entrepreneurs to "be extremely committed, motivate yourself, don't give up and don't be afraid to ask for assistance from those who are more experienced".