‘Important to be a part of it:’ 5 new EcoSystem members share their stories
The biggest challenge all of us face is “to change our appetites and how we eat and drink. It is not something easily done,” Eric Schop, sales manager for Hosokawa Micron, told the May meeting of Bridge2Food’s Plant-Based Foods & Proteins EcoSystem.
Plant-based proteins are necessary to feed this world, and are getting more important, he said. Hosokawa’s systems, machinery and research can help advance to the next phase. “It’s important to be part of it.”
Schop was speaking at the online meeting where five diverse new members of the EcoSystem introduced their companies, and discussed breakthrough technologies, innovative products, and the benefits of collaboration.
Leaders from around the world and all along the value chain are members of the EcoSystem, working together to improve the quality of plant-based foods and to accelerate the transition to sustainable, healthy food systems.
“What we do at Hosokawa Alpine is milling and air classification to get to a protein-rich fraction concentrate and a starch-rich fraction,” said Schop.
“It’s just the beginning of this new era of transition to sustainable proteins and we’re glad to play our part in that, for example, with the dry fractionation process.”
Hosokawa Micron in the Netherlands is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and one of its original mixers — the Nauta — is still in use today in creating blends of protein powders. It’s one of a range of mixers they produce from low to high intensity. They also offer the Flexomix technology and drying technologies, and their flash dryer is of interest for drying protein products such as rice and pea proteins.
Asahi, a world-wide company based out of Japan, joined the EcoSystem in March 2023.
The main products of the company are beer, whisky, beverages, and food. Food is divided into two divisions, one focused on consumer products and the other an ingredients division offering a yeast business, Takao Ueno told the meeting.
The dried brewer’s yeast dates back to 1930. In 2010, they developed a baker’s yeast.
Asahi’s yeast is known for its safety and security, said Ueno. It is non-GMO, animal-free, allergen-free and has a delicious taste.
“The vision of Asahi is through the power of yeast, creating a future where everyone can enjoy food in their own way,” said Ueno.
Their C-DY yeast has over 50 per cent protein, is insoluble, and offers slow digestion and absorption. After the refining processing they offer YPro, which has over 80 percent protein, is soluble, and has fast digestion and absorption.
Asahi is interested in collaborating with partners to develop pre-mixed protein ingredients, said Ueno. They believe the application of their yeast extract will help improve plant-based foods, and working together with partners they can create tastier products and contribute to the market as a whole.
The company also believes it’s important to explore new technologies and the possibility of a joint development system, he said, as innovation goes beyond the provision of raw materials.
A research institute out of Estonia, TFTAK, aims to solve challenges in microbial cultivation and food innovation.
“Our mission is to supply very good support in applied research and to partners in the food industry,” said Mari-Liis Tammik, project manager and senior researcher.
TFTAK has two pillars, the first in food research that includes fermented foods technology and plant-based meat and dairy alternatives. The second pillar includes bioprocess optimization, cultivation techniques of bacteria and filamentous fungi, and co-cultivation of microbial community.
“Our alternative protein research is divided into two,” said Tammik. “The first is the cultivated side where we want to understand how to produce mycoprotein or biomass filamentous fungi, and interesting products from them. We also started precision fermentation.
“We have the most experience at the moment in plant proteins. We have different projects with valorizing Nordic crops such as oat, pea, and faba bean proteins.”
TFTAK is currently a finalist in the XPrize competition, Feed the Next Billion, for its plant-based fish fillet made from pea protein.
The research challenges it wants to tackle next is improving sensory properties in meat and dairy alternatives, and to create more nutritious products.
“We all know there are not a lot of good plant-based cheese products on the market so we really want to understand if fermentation or maturation processing could give those products acceptability,” said Tammik.
TFTAK is looking to connect with other experts in the EcoSystem for possible partnerships in joint research projects, to discuss challenges and innovations, and to build connections in ingredient and technological innovations.
Layn, based in Guilin, China, with international production centres, has more than 25 years of experience in the development of botanical extracts for plant-based sweeteners and natural flavors. Its botanical extracts are also for food and beverage preservation and functionality, for health care and personal care, and for animal and pet nutrition.
“Sustainability and social responsibility at scale are key points for the company,” said Silvia Catena, R&D specialist. “We have a fully vertically integrated, sustainable supply chain.”
There are four main arms of the company: TerraSweet offers plant-based sweeteners; Plantae sells functional ingredients, and plant-based solutions for foods, beverages ,and flavors; Nutrae has botanical extracts with health benefits for nutraceuticals and food supplements; and TruGro is the animal and pet nutrition division.
“Layne offers natural solutions for food and beverage preservation and natural supplements for wellbeing and immune support,” said Catena.
One of the main challenges Layn is tackling right now is to develop a natural, plant-based chelating formula to replace the synthetic additive EDTA, widely used as a preservative in foods.
“Due to the large quantities of EDTA used and its low biodegradability, it leads to an accumulation in wastewater and therefore in rivers and oceans,” said Catena. “There’s tremendous environmental pollution. This project aims at protecting the environment and climate.”
As regulations are constantly updating and vary in different regions, Layne can support clients with the regulatory aspect, Catena said.
Based in Germany with worldwide sales, ViscoTec specialises in dosing technology for viscous fluids, sales engineer Andreas Metzenauer told the meeting.
“The main reason we have joined Bridge2Food is we have developed a new application field of 3D printing of alternative meat products,” said Metzenauer.
“One of our customers is Redefine Meats, for example, who are implementing our dosing technology in their 3D printers in order to mimic realistic, whole cuts of beef meat.”
ViscoTec’s dosing technology is based on the endless piston principle, said Metzenauer. The advantages of that along with 3D printers is the ability to continuously deliver high viscous inks with a very low shear force. This helps maintain juiciness and to perfectly create fibrous textures in a plant-based meat product. This improves the sensory properties quite decisively for the product and the acceptance of the end consumer, said Metzenauer.
The company’s core product is dosing pumps for viscous fluids for all sorts of different applications in food, pharma and industrial uses, said Metzenauer. ViscoTec also supplies barrel-emptying stations, which can be used as a material feeding system for 3D printers or extruder machines.
ViscoTec works with many startups that want to enter the world of 3D printing. In addition to plant-based meat substitutes, the company is receiving more and more requests for cell-cultured meat products, said Metzenauer.
“We believe that 3D printing of meat alternatives, among other things, will be one of the key technologies of the future to be able to produce high-quality substitute meat and fish products.”
For now, ViscoTec’s focus is on the industrial use of 3D printing. However, in the future with micro-dosing, the possibility exists for everyone to have a small 3D printer on their kitchen counter, said Metzenauer.