Innovation: A sweet spot for people with eating problems

The FoodBowl aims to increase the value of manufactured food and beverage exports, reports Graham Skellern.

am Bridgewater couldn’t bear watching his stepfather – who had cancer in the jaw – struggle to eat ordinary food. He reckoned there had to be an easier and better way to maintain a normal healthy diet.

For nearly two years he and his business partners, older brother and Olympic rower George Bridgewater and Maia Royal, researched texture modified or soft food and developed their innovative product.

They talked to clinicians, dentists, District Health Boards, food scientists, chefs and consumers, and found a market niche for people with eating difficulties.

The three partners launched The Pure Food Co on to the market last October and first concentrated on supplying nutritionally fortified meals in plastic pouches to people living at home, including elderly and children with difficulties. The company then moved on and began supplying rest homes and hospitals.

“Tens of thousands of people in New Zealand have eating difficulties,” says Sam Bridgewater, a former corporate banker.

“For people who have had a stroke, are suffering from Parkinson’s or dementia, have a broken jaw, have no teeth, eating becomes a stressful part of the day.

“We decided to provide a real food solution that keeps people well nourished,” he says.

“The meals include proteins, vegetables, carbohydrates and sauces, and we reduced the plate size and increased the vital nutrition to ensure every mouthful is a winner.”

Bridgewater and Royal first worked at their kitchen bench in Grey Lynn, and then operated out of Massey University’s Albany campus.

“We got our friends and our grandparents to taste our food, and we took it to consumers at Mercy Hospice,” Bridgewater says.