Beyond plants: Is the future in microbial protein?29 Mar 2020
Plant proteins may be among the hottest topics in the food industry right now, but another group of alternative proteins is emerging, based on microbial sources, such as algae, fungi and bacteria.
Startups working to scale up the production of non-plant and non-animal alternative proteins highlight distinct benefits, including an often superior nutritional profile, as well as the obvious environmental advantages of foods that do not rely on traditional agricultural inputs. Researchers have pointed out that environmental disasters, like drought or flood, are unlikely to disrupt the production of microbial proteins, making them some of the most climate-proof foods on the planet, and they also tend to require far less water than either meat or plant-derived alternatives.
Quorn is the best-known fungi-based protein product on the market at the moment, but a handful of startups is entering the space, as they answer consumer calls for less processed high quality protein ingredients. US-based companies Emergy Foods and Prime Roots, for instance, both make fungi-based meat alternatives that are at least as high in protein and higher in fibre than meat, while also providing many of the vitamins and minerals found in plants. And in Europe, Swedish startup Mycorena aims to work with food manufacturers to grow high value fungi-based protein using industry side streams, such as waste from sugar beet processing.
Algae has been on the radar as an alternative protein source for several years, and major food companies are beginning to show an interest. Nestlé, for instance, has partnered with US-based ingredient firm Corbion to develop the next generation of microalgae for food. Nestlé says the collaboration combines its experience in plant-based products with Corbion’s expertise in microalgae and fermentation. Meanwhile, Corbion is keen to leverage Nestlé’s ability to fast-track its microalgae ingredients into a range of products for large global markets.
Other companies active in microalgae for its protein content include Triton Algae Innovations, a US-based startup making algae-derived ingredients for meat alternatives. Among its ingredients, it has created an algae-based heme, which it hopes will rival the soy-derived heme used in Impossible Burgers to mimic the taste of meat. Netherlands-based Phycom also uses microalgae in meat alternatives for its protein content, as well as for its flavouring and binding properties.
At a much earlier stage, biotechnology companies are exploring the potential of proteins derived from fermentation, made with genetically engineered yeasts and bacteria – and interest is high. US-based Motif Ingredients, for instance, launched in early 2019 with $90 million of series A funding from major companies like Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Louis Dreyfus Company, Fonterra, and Viking Global Investors. It aims to provide ‘next generation’ alternative proteins for the food industry that are identical to those derived from meat, egg and dairy.
Proteins beyond those derived from plants and animals have attracted significant attention from researchers as demand for alternative proteins continues to grow, but these will only take off if industry can be convinced of their commercial potential. Investments from major food industry players suggests that some could enter the mainstream within the next few years.
Pressure on baby milk manufacturers intensifies over mineral oil traces
31 Jul 2020
Consumer watchdog Foodwatch is calling for EU member states and the European Commission to publish the results of official tests on the presence of potentially harmful aromatic mineral oil in baby milk and infant formula.Read more
Flexitarians in China are revitalising the mock meat tradition
27 Jul 2020
Many Asian countries, China in particular, have traditions of mock meat but the region is developing a new, innovation-fuelled plant-based sector to meet the demands of urban flexitarians, say experts.Read more
PepsiCo Egypt CEO feels bullish about regional growth: ‘The opportunities are huge’
20 Jul 2020
PepsiCo recently announced a US$100m capital investments in Egypt, and its confidence in the country’s growth potential is unshaken even by coronavirus, says the CEO of PepsiCo Egypt.Read more
Sugar Association files citizen petition calling for clearer labelling of sweeteners
13 Jul 2020
The Sugar Association has filed a US citizen petition to require manufacturers to add front-of-pack disclosures regarding the use of non-nutritive sweeteners – but sweetener suppliers say ingredient lists already give consumers clear information.Read more
Natural, native and healthy: Latin America’s rising star superfoods
3 Jul 2020
From açaí to quinoa, chia to maqui, native Latin American superfoods give products a healthy, wholefood halo– and the region has plenty of undiscovered superfoods waiting to be commercialized, says one expert.Read more
Scientists develop next-generation DNA barcoding for food traceability
29 Jun 2020
Encapsulating fragile DNA barcodes into custom-made microbial spores creates a cheap and scalable tool for farm-to-fork traceability, say the Harvard scientists behind the research.Read more
Nutrition labels and healthy reformulation in Latin America
26 Jun 2020
Mexico’s front-of-pack warning nutrition label has entered into force. Will healthy reformulation follow?Read more
The importance of local flavours in NPD for the Asian market
22 Jun 2020
From Osmanthus flower soda in China to spiced chewing gum in India, using local flavours for successful new product development (NPD) in the Asian market has never been more important.Read more
UK organic food sales soar despite lockdown
22 Jun 2020
Sales of organic food in the UK have reached record levels and increased during the COVID-19 lockdown – but can the sales be sustained now that the panic buying has subsided?Read more
Investing in climate change-resistant crops
15 Jun 2020
Lucozade Ribena Suntory recently announced a £500,000 investment in developing new varieties of climate-resilient blackcurrant.Read more
Are you a supplier
Here's what we can do for you
- Generate quality leads for your business
- Stay visible for 365 days of the year
- Receive product inquiries and respond to meeting requests directly
- Improve company online presence through Search Engine Optimisation