AURI likes to reward innovation.

Businesses we work with are developing ag-based products that lead to opportunities, economic activity and jobs. They deserve our recognition.

This year, AURI’s annual Ag Innovator of the Year award goes to Suntava. This Minnesota business extracts the natural color Sayela™ from Suntava™ Purple Corn bred by Red Rock Genetics of Lamberton, Minn.

Suntava’s natural colorant is in a range of products, from sports drinks to tortilla chips. And company CEO Bill Petrich says they are tapping into markets he didn’t foresee — like cosmetics, nutraceuticals and even seed coatings.

Sayela colorant is close to the hue of red dye #40, which is the most prevalent synthetic dye used in U.S. foods and beverages. Since the purple corn handles similar to field corn, it can be dried and stored for extended periods, giving it an advantage over other more perishable natural colorants.

Every year we honor an entrepreneurial company like Suntava that has achieved success in the marketplace — and used AURI’s services to get there. We also want to highlight value-added agriculture’s contribution to Minnesota’s economy.

AURI is driven by and for innovation. It is our role to help move agricultural products into new places and recognize those who accomplish it. For to be truly innovative, a product idea has to be implemented.