Leveraging fermentation: Key opinions from industry & academia
Traditional fermentation has been applied to access ingredients which deliver enhanced texture, flavour and nutritional characteristics. When the microbial biomass is used within the formulation, digestibility and nutritional profile may be improved.
If you’re looking for specific attributes, precision fermentation can be the key to unlock functional ingredients. Rapid advancement in fundamental science, improved tools and processes have led to increased awareness and therefore utilisation of fermentations by the food & beverage industry.
The overall market for fermented foods and beverages is anticipated to increase by US$533 million through 2026 at a CAGR of 7.34%, and currently, a cohort of start-ups and FMCGs are developing ingredients and products produced with all forms of fermentation.
There are still challenges to be solved and opportunities to address with fermentation in food processing, which are summarised through the following lenses:
- Taste was, is and will remain the main driver for acceptance.
- Brand transparency, verified claims, and clear labelling are also very important to win consumers’ hearts
- Mimicking meat products is proving to be difficult, for plant based and cultured ingredients alike. There are multiple hurdles including achieving the desired texture and taste. Ultimately there may be a shift in focus to celebrating fungi, algae, seeds, pulses and plant-based products for what they are, rather than a “substitute”
- Defining relevant metrics early and reviewing them periodically is important, especially after changes in processes due to reformulation
- It is extremely important to define the wider impacts associated with the entire value chain and to be consistent with the use of certification
- Re-using and re-valorizing waste is one mechanism to enhance sustainability performance – indeed a silver bullet would be to use waste as a feedstock
- Metagenomics and automation in fermentation can help enhance the development and scaling of ingredients with a preferable nutritional profile and increase the functionality of ingredients
- Optimisation and minimising process steps are vital to reduce price and grow market reach: engage to improve
- Mix and match protein sources to improve product attributes is an interesting opportunity => leverage the best of every protein source to keep the label “clean”
- Considering the nutritional requirements of consumers and matching those with the nutritional profile of a portion of a fermented product might prove a better yardstick than comparing to the nutritional profile of an equivalent portion of meat
- Fermentation can be a versatile process for a personalised nutritional offering, as it allows enhancement of the yield of certain nutrients according to consumer needs
- Being proactive regarding regulations and claims is key for speed (time to market)
Plant-based products are under scrutiny due to unfulfilled market performance. The potential in fermented products indicates that it is a key moment to re-evaluate market strategy, claims and target consumers, and identify the job to be done by these ingredients and products such that the same mistake is not repeated.
Monique Lacroix – Professor - INRS
Damien Michelon – Partnership Manager – Toulouse White Biotechnology
Ana Pejic - Co-Founder & CPO – Tempty Foods
Majbritt Byskov-Bridges – Co-Founder – Alver World SA