You don't know how great raw snacks can be until you try Kitz Living Foods products.
Think Chilli Salsa Crackers, Tomato & Basil Raw Pizza Bases and Chewy Choc Fudge Chunks. If you're thinking 'whoa, these sound damn delicious', well, you'd be spot on!
We spoke to Scott Washbourne and Amanda Bjorklund - owners of Kitz Living Foods - about all things Kitz, including their favourite product from their range, the (impressive!!) food production process, and what a day in their life looks like.
Tell us a bit about the people behind your company
Kitz was founded in 2006 by Karen Kitto of Coolangatta. We - Amanda and Scott purchased Kitz in 2011. We and our kids, Rowan and Aila, take an active role in daily manufacturing as well as developing new products for the company and others. We are recent (2011) migrants to Australia from America, and since 2016 – citizens! Kitz is staffed by a diverse group of people of all ages who have a passion for foods. It is a great work environment and accommodates working parents as well as school leavers.
What inspired you to start your company and when did you start it?
Kitz was founded in 2006 to fill the needs of allergy sufferers who couldn’t find any snacks they could eat without harm. The food industry has grown enormously in that time and we continue to develop new products to care for a variety of allergies.
What would an ‘average day in the life of’ look like for you?
Ha! 4am drink coffee and do an hour of yoga, then 1.5 hours of surfing, then hit the production floor to solve any dramas. Back to my desk to write up new product tests, order parts for machinery, communicate with customers, pay some bills and solve problems that arise. Every day is different, and I love that.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
I like challenges and I love a diverse set of tasks each day. I can go from crawling under a machine with a multi-tester to check why it stopped, to managing staff music choices on the radio, to speaking with overseas distributors, all inside of an hour.
How do you make your products?
Almost all of our products are made by hand, though we do use mechanical aids for mixing now. It is a long process to make our products beginning with activating the seeds & nuts the day before we begin. On the morning of ‘production’ we rinse the seeds and nuts, and incorporate them with the rest of the recipe. This gets mixed and spread (by hand usually) then loaded in the dehydrator. Our crackers, for instance, get 20 hours in the dehydrators at 47 degrees. So the next day they are removed and packed into 100g bags by our team. Then they are packed into storage tubs for protection and ease of handling. There they wait for our warehouse manager to pull them out as the orders come in from all over the country.
What is your favourite product in your range?
Walnuts Apple Cinnamon and Agave! No question! It is fairly sweet, but it has enough protein from the walnuts to temper the lift in energy from the fruit and make it a very nice long energy booster, while at the same time delighting your mouth. Yeah, I like it.
What is your favourite way to enjoy your product/s?
I like to put grilled eggplant on the Rosemary Black Pepper crackers.
What is an interesting way of using your products that not many people would know about?
Some people chill (refrigerate) our Coconut Dreams! A customer told us she did this a few years ago, and I thought ‘really’?
But we tried it, and it radically changes the eating experience and my kids and I thoroughly enjoy this range like this now!
What have been the biggest trials so far in starting and running your company?
Finding compostable packaging suitable to our products’ specific needs. Everyone said it wasn’t available or possible but I persisted and we have been in compostable packaging for over 4 years and every year it gets even better.
What experiences lead to the values you have instilled in your company?
Mom & Dad showed me that anything worth doing is worth doing right. There is satisfaction in doing the very best you can each and every day. And they are right!
If you weren’t running your company, what would you be doing?
Farming, building surfboards, working with algae for food and/or oil production.
What is your favourite way of winding down and taking timeout?
Family time at home.
Here at Retreat Yourself, we LOVE dreaming BIG - what is your vision for your company?
We are part of a wave of understanding about what we put in our bodies matters as much or more than anything else we do. I love being part of the healthy eating movement.
For anyone out there wanting to start their own business, what would your biggest piece of advice be?
Start today. Don’t listen to people who tell you that you can’t do it. Do it your way and start today and you CAN do it.
And lastly, what does a fulfilled life look like to you?
Satisfying work, loving family, healthy eating and living habits, positive mind set.
You can check out Kitz' range of healthy, raw goodies at www.kitzlivingfoods.com.au.
"What the heck is agar agar, we hear you say. It's a
vegan gelatin, kanten, Japanese gelatin or China grass, agar agar is a jelly-like agent that comes from seaweed (specifically red algae)."
Special guest, The Broth Sisters, take us through just what the hell agar agar is and why you want it in your diet.