Microbial cultures have been used to preserve foods, create alcoholic beverages, and improve the nutritional value and bioavailability of foods for centuries but recently, we have used fermentation for many other additional uses as well such as in industrial chemistry, biomaterials, therapeutics and medicine, fuels, and most importantly in this context, food ingredients.
Food and beverage products can be broken down into four main elements: conditions (temperature, pressure, dissolved oxygen…), substrates (lipids, source of nitrogen, inhibitors and amino acids…), microorganisms (pure or mixed, strain of use…) and enzymes.
The addition of substrates and microorganisms can result in either catabolism products (alcohols, organic acids, gas etc.) or anabolism products (biomass or bioactive molecules like vitamins, probiotics, enzymes etc).
Once we understand the basis of the product you want to create, we can begin the process of simulation followed by focused experimentation in order to work our way through a faster product development process so that you can be ahead of the competition with your innovations.
Precision fermentation, for example, is one method that can be used to improve a lean innovation strategy for functional foods and beverages by using microbial hosts to produce specific functional ingredients which can allow us to produce stronger sensory characteristics of alternative proteins and other plant-based products for example. It also allows for the highly-scalable manufacturing of many ingredients. Ingredients created from fermentation are already widely used across the functional food industry, for example in many supplements, flavourings or alternative protein products.
We are only beginning to tap into the potential that fermentation innovation has for the food industry on a global scale. By looking into how we can make fermentation and biotechnology processes even better, we can aim to improve the quality and output of our future plant-based protein and meat alternatives which will lead to increased market demand and growth as well as create more jobs in the field. We can also use innovation in this space to the benefit of our health and environment. For example, the whole-cell biomass or parts of cells can be used in the production of ingredients for alternative meat, egg, or dairy products.
We can use the Design of Experiments (DOE) Process below to outline, predict and refine our plans around biotransformation and fermentation so that we can move towards creating consumer-centric and innovative products that satisfy the needs of the customer we want to target. There are numerous areas of opportunity in the science and technology fields for these topics, for example in feedstock optimisation, strain development, or target selection and design in the case of precision fermentation.
The benefits of biotransformation are broad and can be found across all three stages of the consumer involvement and emotional connection process: experience (use of the five senses), nutrition (bioavailability, strong nutritional profiles, vitamins..) and efficiency (relating to food waste and preservation).
Given the broad scope of the use of biotransformation and fermentation processes, well-established regulatory systems are already in place in many areas to ensure the safety of innovations within this space however laws and regulations vary by country and state so it’s important to conduct thorough research on regulatory as well as labelling and nomenclature considerations before embarking on your product journey.
The key takeaway from this topic is to develop a deep knowledge and understanding of your ideal consumer so that you will be able to use the biotransformation process and science to your advantage and build a strong product that is in high demand in your chosen marketplace. Fermented foods have been given the ‘consumer seal of approval’ let’s say in terms of nutrition so this is something that brands can leverage when moving forward with their own product plans.
For more detail, watch the video above and don’t hesitate to contact me on [email protected] with any questions or queries relating to how this can be relevant for your existing or upcoming portfolio.
iNewtrition is an Innovation as a Service (IaaS) agency for the functional food & beverage, and health & wellness industries. We provide agile customer solutions, end-to-end support, or can simply help you overcome specific bottlenecks to fast track innovation and product development. The services and expertise we offer are on-demand and available to you instantly via our online booking platform. Our skills combined cover every step of your innovation journey, from feasibility study, product design or development, to post-launch scale-up. Contact Raphaelle at [email protected] to start your journey.