The smoking gun in FoodTech

The products of this small Victorian business are now stocked by major food retailers both in Australia and overseas.

Julie Kos, the co-founder of free-range egg farm Kossies, turned an inspiring idea into a gamechanger in 2015 when she started experimenting with raw eggs in a domestic smoker. “Not being food scientists, we used what we knew as egg producers,” Julie explains. “We knew the challenges egg producers have with bird flu and the risk to consumers of salmonella outbreaks.” Through trial-and-error, Julie discovered a non-thermal food preservation process and, with the help of two engineers, designed the world’s first chilled smoking technology. “It infuses raw eggs with an aromatic smoky flavour without cooking them, instead keeping them as fresh as the day they were laid,” Julie explains.

Food Innovation Australia (FIAL) recognised the innovation’s potential value to food industry and consumers and helped co fund a research project. The CSIRO was engaged to begin trials and, after three months of testing, Julie’s natural nonthermal preservation process proved it would kill any salmonella on eggs’ outer shells. The CSIRO lab testing has also shown that this natural chilled smoking food preservation technique extends an egg’s shelf life from six weeks to 35 weeks, retaining its natural nutritional value and holding its form when whipped or whisked – a result that pasteurisation can’t achieve.

On the back of these outcomes Julie founded The Smoked Egg Company in 2017 to commercialise her discovery and build a sustainability-focused business supporting the global initiative towards reducing food waste. In 2019 Julie was granted a worldwide patent for the process. The business, which today employs seven staff, two of whom are full time and five part time, have worked tirelessly to develop new innovative product lines with sustainability in mind, including an egg liquid concentrate, a plain egg pulp and a smoky egg pulp. “Pulp is bacteria free, and its viscosity resembles whipped egg consistency, so it’s thicker than pasteurised eggs and fruits no longer sink to the base in muffins,” Julie says. “The product will be packed in sterile containers or use gas flushing as opposed to the aseptic packaging currently used for pasteurised egg liquids, which is a safer and more environmentally-friendly solution.”

The company’ sales continue to grow, with over half a million smoked eggs sold to date. In July this year Julie won a contract that has seen the raw smoked eggs stocked in over 130 Woolworths stores across Victoria, NSW and Queensland, and she They Smoked Egg Company have a licensee in the Netherlands that has helped increase their brand presence, attracting interest from major European retailers Crisp and Jumbo. Discussion with key distributors and other major retailers both locally and globally are ongoing, with growing interest from food service providers to add the product in prepared sandwiches and major brands to range them across their specialty stores.

“Our free range raw smoked eggs is an innovation set to bring greater credibility for egg producers and give choice to consumer, more than just a plain egg,” Julie enthuses. “Its ecological processes help deliver a more sustainable product that is good to the environment while its long shelf life and nutritional value helps feed the masses.” Julie’s vision includes developing her technology to diversify and extend her product range and to sell more manufacturing and distributor licences across America, Europe and Asia.

This article first appeared in issue 34 of the Inside Small Business quarterly magazine