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LILO Desserts, real fruit cheesecakes

From food waste to New World shelves, the company tackling fruit loss, one sweet cheesecake at a time


Thursday, 17 November 2022

Three years ago, Cleo Gilmour returned home from working in China, her eyes were opened to the ugly side to an obsession with perfection. More succinctly put, an obsession with producing the “perfect” piece of fruit and nothing less in an export focused industry. 

Realising the extent of the fruit loss issue in New Zealand, Cleo decided there was an opportunity here that was ripe for the taking. She partnered with Alex Worker and Russell Haines and together they started a ‘Fruit Tech’ company in a bid to do something good with the thousands of tonnes of cherries go unsold for being “a bit small, weather beaten or underripe”.  

The trio researched, designed, and scaled a solution to this B-Side of produce. As Gilmour explains, when life gives you un-exportable cherries, make cheesecakes.

LILO's mission is to harness these flavours and nutrients into a range of next-generation foods that deliver indulgence and nutrition. New Zealand fruit has some of the world’s highest concentrations of antioxidants and minerals. This naturally occurring goodness is what makes our produce look and taste so good”. 

Last year, their newly launched business, LILO Desserts won FoodStarter, a competition where food entrepreneurs win a support package to scale up production and get a place on the shelves of New World supermarkets around New Zealand. “New World is proud to support the creativity and ingenuity that comes through with so many amazing Food Starter contenders. We’re thrilled to be supporting New Zealand’s community of budding food entrepreneurs and a product like LILO that upcycles food through waste minimisation speaks to our own values and sustainable leadership practices.” says Giselle Bleakley, Head of Marketing, New World.

FoodStarter reflects Foodstuffs’ commitment to its HereforNZ social promises, which includes supporting communities to thrive and grow. The support the Food Starter programme offers, includes business incubation, product development and packaging design, ranging, Point of Sale plus Media and PR support.  

LILO has come a long way since the first iterations, and early encouragements like winning the 2021 FoodStarter award have been key for launch, says Cleo. “Winning FoodStarter was serious validation for LILO and has meant we had a pathway, goal and support to launch LILO across New World Supermarkets. Having a national account helped us secure funding and scale manufacturing along with the awesome insights and support from the Foodstuffs team. FoodStarter is an awesome example of what can happen when big business supports small business in Aotearoa. I'd encourage all food and beverage innovators to apply for Food Starter, the process itself is a great learning experience and gets your product in front of all the right people." 

Will products like LILO be the Future of New Zealand snacking? As they say, the proof is in the pudding. 

LILO 140g Cheesecakes (Central Otago Summer Fruit and Gisborne Lemon and Kiwi) launch across selected New World Stores from Sept 29 in the Chiller aisle.  

For more about FoodStarter, click here.