UniZulu develops biscuits made from the Amaranthus plant

University of Zululand researchers served up a tasty biscuit made from the Amaranthus plant (a spinach-like vegetable traditionally known as imbuya) to SA Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, at the DST Innovation Bridge Portal held recently.

According to head of Consumer Sciences’ department, Professor Unathi Kolanisi, this breakthrough product will address two critical issues in South Africa – the need to combat hidden hunger and food security and the creation of business opportunities within the food and fast moving consumer goods sectors that could create jobs and businesses.

The long term goal is to create a traditionally-based product that is proudly South African and with similar commercial potential as rooibos tea and biltong. The Amaranth researchers are looking for a commercial partner who can help develop this product for mainstream retail.

This biscuit is just one out of a number of products made from traditional foods that are still at a prototype development stage. Other products will include jugo-bean-based instant cereals, cowpea instant soup and healthy cocktail beverages.

The prototype savoury biscuit has a pleasant taste and is low in salt and sugar. It is also high in protein, iron and other trace minerals.

The research team is passionate about the development of traditional food-based products and believes that the creation of this biscuit fits in with the university ethos.

‘The University of Zululand is a truly rural-based African university. It is situated in a province with a largely rural population. The development of local traditional food products helps these local, rural students to reclaim their identity and encourages them to go back to their communities and add value. We are going back to the roots of traditional foodstuffs,’ she says.

The savoury biscuit that has been developed by the University of Zululand team of researchers, funded by KZN Tech Transfer, has a potential to find its way to the supermarket shelves.