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Start-Up Innovation Challenge at FiE 2017

The Start-Up Innovation Challenge is aimed at the promotion of international innovative projects on ingredients, presented during Food Ingredients Europe, which will be held in Frankfurt, Germany, at the end of this month. Innovations include a whole raft of sustainable solutions, including one based on insect protein and a high-protein healthier ice cream creation. In the second part of our preview, we look at five more of the nominees

Flying Spark: By 2040, over nine billion people will need to be fed. Proteins are a crucial component of the daily diet. Considering the current rise of interest in protein and the long-term concerns of having sufficient protein sources to meet global needs, a severe shortage of animal protein is predicted in the near future and a new source of environmentally friendly protein for human consumption is of the essence.

Flying Spark has found new ways of incorporating fly protein into food products for human consumption, on an industrial scale. The technology combines farming and processing of the flies; it is an extremely efficient biological factory, transforming fruit surplus into high-quality protein powders with a minimal environmental footprint.

GMR: This highly innovative company has developed new ways to source and utilize the value of biomasses in all areas involving extraction. GMR's aim is to build the most high performing biomass chains using a by-product approach. They target partners using the most advanced transformation technologies to exclusively provide new generation biomasses all around the world. Doing tailored made sourcings, GMR supplies luxury and exclusive biomasses as ornamental flowers, as well as more common ones in massive quantities. The GMR network now contains more than 100,000 tons of ready-to-extract biomasses, boosting the CSR and competitiveness of their customers and improving incomes of their suppliers.

“The product is mainly based on an innovation of use than a technical one. We built a network approach that permits to give value to plant by-products coming from each step of the production chain; from the field to the market,” Julien Lesage Chairman/Founder. “In this way, we supply the extraction market with a smarter and more competitive sourcing. Also, we contracted exclusive use of a few technical processes which allows us to be the only supplier of various biomass forms. This is the case for the thinning process, which we use to provide peach tree flowers.”

In terms of possible applications, typical examples include a food & beverage company working on using plant-based ingredients from fruit juice waste. “When fruits are pressed, there is the juice from one side; this is the product. There also is the pomace from the other side, containing fruit skins and seeds. These skins are usable by extractors to make natural extract, natural colors, natural preservatives, etc. In addition, in a well-built chain, the juice maker can use extracts of his own by-products to boost his product range,” he explains.

Products using the technology are already on the market, whether in the extractors catalog, as well as in stores in finished products. Cosmetics has had the most traction so far, as it was the company’s first target market. “Now we’re just a few weeks away from our first food & beverage extracts to hit the market. We’re working with world leading food & beverage groups, world leading extractors and almost all the world leading actors in the cosmetic industry,” Lesage concludes.

Mazza Innovation: Mazza Innovation has developed a pressurized water extraction process called the PhytoClean Method, which eliminates the need to employ chemical solvents in extraction. Chemical solvents — ethanol, methanol, acetone and ethyl acetate, among others — are commonly used to extract valuable ingredients from botanical plant sources for use in foods and beverages, supplements and personal care products.

Unfortunately, there are inherent environmental pollution and disposal problems that go along with using these chemicals. These, together with serious issues of worker and consumer safety, represent a thorny issue.

By applying only pressure and heat to lower the polarity of water, so that it performs like a chemical solvent, the PhytoClean process is able to deliver solvent-free, clean-label botanical extracts, while eliminating the safety and cost issues involved in handling dangerous chemical solvents. This breakthrough is claimed to prevent any contamination of the final ingredients with solvent residues and puts an end to the need for the safe environmental disposal of contaminated waste material.

In September 2017, Mazza announced that it had raised Cdn$3 million (US$2.36 million) from existing and new shareholders to fund an expansion of operations at its Delta, BC PhytoClean extraction facility. Mazza’s financing round was comprised of several institutional and individual investors, including Natural Products Canada (NPC), a not-for-profit corporation that streamlines commercialization of natural products.

Innovopro: This company has developed an exclusive and innovative technology that enables the extraction of 70 percent protein concentrate from chickpea: a non-GMO, sustainable, healthy and tasty vegan source. The product is claimed to meet the food industry's demand for sustainable, reliable, nutritious and highly-functional plant-based proteins, in order to meet rising demand and diverse the massive usage of soy protein. A number of exclusive nutritional and functional qualities give chickpeas unique value in the plant-based protein market.

Chickpeas are considered a super-food with substantial health benefits. Chickpea protein enables the formulation of clean label products with high-quality plant protein and no additives, without compromising on taste or appearance. It is a superb substitute for soy, whey protein, eggs, gluten and other ingredients. Unlike many other plant-based proteins, chickpea protein functions also as an emulsifier and foaming agent to provide dairy-free, gluten-free and egg-free goods with an airy and lightweight texture. Chickpea protein is both light in color and subtle in flavor, making it the perfect ingredient for many applications in the food industry. It also enables the removal of texturizing agents in an innovative natural production process, with no additives.

Chromologics: In the last decade, there has been an increase in consumer demand for natural food colorants. New alternatives are needed to fulfill the strict requirements of both the consumer and the food industry. Currently used natural colorants are chemically extracted from food sources such as beetroots, carrots or insects. These colors have their limitations in terms of stability and usability. Production is highly season dependent, making prices volatile. Existing natural colors are often extracted from food sources, which could have been used to feed people.

Chromologics is a biotech company spun out from the Technical University of Denmark after many years of research. The company has developed a patented fermentation process, employing a non-GMO filamentous fungus for the production of bio-based pigments. Their lead product is a red color, called ChromoRed, whose technical properties are more pH stable and heat stable than the competing natural red colorants.

Anders Ødum of Chromologics : “The unique feature of our product is two-fold: Firstly, our product is a natural non-GMO cost competitive red pigment with technical stability on par or better than the current pigments. This means that ChromoRed can be used in widespread applications, whereas the current colors are only applicable for a small subset of foods. The other is our production process, using fungus in submerged bioreactors, we can scale production in a sustainable and cost efficient way, when compared to colors which are extracted from foods, such as berries and beetroots, which can then be used as foods rather than raw materials.”

The company’s colorant addresses the industry challenge of replacing carmine, a colorant with great stability, but poor user perception as it is extracted from insects and is therefore not vegan, kosher or halal. “Our production platform allows us to produce color of great quality fast and cheap with minimal environmental impact. The colorant will best be suited for solid foods, however, we are working on applying it to soft drinks,” he adds.

Finally, Ødum notes: “we are still in the development phase and we need to get regulatory approval and an additive approval with corresponding E-number.” This means that it may take 3-4 years before we get to enter the market. Potential customers have therefore not yet been agreed upon.

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