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Navigating the Evolving Landscape of New Food: Focus on Fermented Products and Market Dynamics

World 10.05.2024
Source: The DairyNews
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In the rapidly evolving sector of food technology, the term "New Food" typically refers to food products or ingredients that lack a traditional history of human consumption, or those derived from innovative processes, often termed as "novel foods." Tetra Pak has prepared a report on New Food—products and ingredients developed using microorganisms. The editorial team at Dairynews.today has reviewed it and shares the most interesting highlights with its readers.
Navigating the Evolving Landscape of New Food: Focus on Fermented Products and Market Dynamics
Pic by AI
The investment landscape in the New Food sector witnessed a significant shift during the latter half of 2022. Venture capital, previously readily available, has adopted a more conservative stance toward funding new ventures in this space. Investment decisions that once mirrored the aggressive growth strategies common in tech and Software as a Service (SaaS) sectors are now being reevaluated with a heightened focus on techno-economic analysis (TEA), return on investment (ROI) metrics, and robust go-to-market strategies.

While projects that meet stringent TEA and ROI criteria continue to secure funding, the process of financing seed rounds has become more protracted. Overall, venture capital investment in this sector has markedly decreased throughout 2023. Conversely, public funding has followed a distinct trajectory. Enhanced global communication fr om various regions in 2023 has led to an increase in research grants, program initiatives, and support for developing public infrastructure conducive to New Food innovation. These efforts are often driven by the need to address climate change and other geopolitical factors, underscoring the critical role of food system transformation in supporting a burgeoning global population.

Looking forward, public investments are poised to accelerate the advancement of early-stage innovations to more mature phases of development. They are also expected to enhance network initiatives and cross-collaboration aimed at addressing common challenges. While the industry has initiated similar networks under private funding, concerns around intellectual property and ROI have sometimes hindered full transparency and the free exchange of ideas.

Global Regulatory Landscapes Shift as New Food Technologies Gain Traction

As New Food technologies advance, regulatory environments across various markets are evolving to accommodate these innovations. In consumer products, the United States, Singapore, and Oceania are leading in regulatory advancements. Conversely, Europe adopts a more cautious approach, often influenced by traditional, cultural, and political factors, as well as pivotal regulatory milestones such as the 1997 Regulation (EC) No 258/974, which harmonized the authorization process for novel foods in the EU.

Emerging markets are also actively revising their strategies to keep pace with these developments. Food safety and regulatory standards often hinge on historical contexts—such as the Food Additives Amendment of 1958 in the United States, which introduced the "Generally Regarded as Safe" (GRAS) designation that continues to influence food safety regulation today.

The regulatory pathway for New Food, particularly products derived fr om precision fermentation, can be complex due to the intricate nature of the authorization processes wh ere multiple regulatory frameworks overlap. The lack of a clear regulatory definition for precision fermentation compounds this complexity. It raises questions about whether such processes should be classified under genetically modified organisms (GMO) regulations or if the end products, resembling those naturally occurring in the food supply, should be considered GRAS.

This divergence in regulatory approaches can significantly affect the speed to market. In Europe, for example, the approval process is notably lengthy, requiring extensive documentation and consensus among all 27 member states. In contrast, the United States and Singapore benefit fr om more streamlined procedures, allowing for quicker product approvals.

The current regulatory landscape significantly impacts wh ere biomass and precision fermentation processes develop and wh ere factories are built and products launched. These activities tend to concentrate in markets that facilitate quicker product approvals.

A recent UN report emphasizes the necessity for the global food system to evolve to meet future sustainability goals, suggesting that regulatory clarity and the efficiency of approval processes are critical to fostering market-ready innovations while ensuring food safety.

The dynamics within the New Food sector are continuously evolving. For instance, the European Commission's recent "Communication on Biotech and Biomanufacturing" aims to refine and expedite the approval processes while addressing sustainability and investment needs, marking a significant step towards regulatory modernization in response to advancing food technologies.

Key Development Areas in New Food Technology

In the food and beverage sector, "discovery" typically refers to the identification of new, appealing products, whereas "development" focuses on enhancing product quality in a profitable and sustainable manner. Both elements are crucial in the realm of New Food, a field currently undergoing a transitional phase with yet-to-be-established global standards and practices.

According to a report by Tetra Pak, this chapter delves into several critical factors impacting development, particularly in areas like process development, scalability, and factory design.

The success of development initiatives often hinges on the choice of host organism and its growth conditions. There are numerous ongoing efforts aimed at enhancing these factors, broadly categorized into four primary areas:

Enhancing Understanding of Current Strains: This involves deepening knowledge about existing strains and their growth conditions to optimize their use.
Adaptation to New Environments: Modifying current, well-understood strains to thrive in entirely new production and growth environments.

Technological Advancements in GMO Tools: Innovating and refining the technological tools used for creating or modifying genetically modified organisms, to broaden their applicability and efficiency.

Discovery of Novel Strains: Identifying new strains with specific, desirable characteristics such as faster growth, higher productivity, or the ability to grow in varied pH levels, temperature ranges, and with different carbon and nitrogen sources.

The implications of these advancements vary widely. For example, quicker growth rates can affect the choice of feedstocks, reduce contamination risks, allow for the use of smaller production bioreactors, and decrease process turnaround times, thus boosting overall productivity. This array of potential impacts underscores a complex yet promising landscape for future development in the New Food industry. Each improvement not only enhances individual processes but also contributes to the broader goal of transforming food production into a more efficient and sustainable system.

Advancing Food Technology: Safety, Sustainability, and Innovation in New Food Production

The realm of New Food technology continues to evolve, blending new or modified versions of existing technologies to create products that are tasty, safe, and economically viable. Efficiently adapting current technologies to new applications offers a robust and cost-effective path forward.

In the context of food safety and cleaning, the last decade has seen significant advancements due to the introduction of plant-based products. This experience is invaluable as many New Food inputs are likely to be plant-based, and the insights gained are directly applicable to large-scale New Food production processes.

The introduction of new microorganisms presents challenges, particularly in understanding their heat sensitivity and how they interact with various feedstock conditions. This understanding is critical for ensuring the right hygiene levels in bioreactor inputs and maintaining food safety throughout the production process.

Process recontamination risks are comparable to those in traditional food processes. Addressing these risks might involve integrating additional unit operations downstream to mitigate potential quality degradation due to recontamination.

To minimize design risks, employing a stringent, risk-based approach is essential. Leveraging existing knowledge and experience from the dairy, plant-based, and prepared food industries can significantly enhance the robustness of New Food processes.

Cleaning challenges also evolve with New Food technologies. Learnings from Clean-in-Place (CIP) systems, originally developed for dairy and traditional food processing equipment, are proving effective for New Food processing lines. This is especially relevant as many New Food plants aim for continuous operation, making the frequency of cleaning a critical design consideration.

The influence of various global industries, from biopharma to bioplastics, shapes the New Food sector's approach to cleaning and food safety. Finding appropriate safety standards that ensure both food safety and cost-effectiveness is crucial.

In terms of thermal treatment, heating remains a versatile and robust method for ensuring complete microbial kill-off, which is vital for maintaining food safety. Cooling also plays a critical role, not just for safety but for optimizing bioreactor performance and maintaining product quality.

Overall, productivity in New Food processes is a complex interplay of various factors, including production rates, equipment utilization, and contamination control. Effective factory design must balance these elements to optimize efficiency and prepare for future expansions or upgrades.

News review

We also recommend paying attention to the latest news from the world of precision fermentation, which demonstrates the persistent efforts of major companies and startups to develop new food technologies.

Turtle Tree, a pioneer in sustainable nutrition, and Vegan Action, the most recognized vegan certification provider in the U.S. today announced the official vegan certification of TurtleTree's animal-free sustainable lactoferrin, LF+.

GEA is set to invest EUR 18 million (USD 20 million) in a cutting-edge technology center for sustainable alternatives to meat, dairy, seafood, and eggs in the state of Wisconsin, USA.

The new food innovation center, located on the GEA Campus in Janesville, will focus on piloting microbial, cell-based, and plant-based foods. This investment is driven by the increasing demand for industrial-scale production of new food options in the fast-growing U.S. market. Scheduled for groundbreaking in spring 2024, the 10,000 square-meter facility aims to bridge a crucial gap in the innovation landscape by advancing the development of complementary proteins through state-of-the-art technologies.

Vivici, the pioneering joint venture between Fonterra and DSM aimed at disrupting the emerging 'animal-free dairy' sector, has announced its ability to supply substantial quantities of whey protein from fermentation to the US market, just over a year after its inception.The Netherlands-based startup, with self-affirmed GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status in the USA, attributes its swift progress to leveraging the extensive expertise of its founders in dairy proteins and large-scale biomanufacturing. CEO Stephan van Sint Fiet revealed that Vivici utilizes proprietary biotechnology employing yeast strains optimized for industrial use over decades.

Having successfully completed scale-up activities from the lab to commercial production, including a recent tech transfer to a 120m³ fermenter, Vivici is collaborating with partners in Europe and the US for further commercial manufacturing. Van Sint Fiet stated, "We are already at commercially viable, very competitive titers," and emphasized ongoing efforts for productivity improvement and the exploration of next-gen technologies for continuous fermentation. 


In a strategic move, biomass fermentation startup Super braid Food is joining forces with Döhler to amplify the production of its innovative postbiotic protein. Under this partnership, Döhler commits a significant portion of its fermentation capacity to produce Superbrewed's patented postbiotic protein ingredient.


Perfect Day, the leading precision fermentation innovator and supplier, has partnered with Unilever's Breyers, a family favorite since 1866, to launch Breyers Lactose-Free Chocolate made with Perfect Day's dairy protein from fermentation. Perfect Day uses a decades-old process of precision fermentation to create its highly functional whey protein that offers the same indulgent experience consumers have loved for decades without any lactose and with a reduced environmental footprint. Breyers Lactose-Free Chocolate is available in a 48-ounce tub available nationwide starting this month.

The Precision Fermentation Alliance (PFA) and FFA (Food Fermentation Europe) announced a refined definition of Precision Fermentation. This collaborative effort aims to provide clarity on the unique characteristics of precision fermentation and its differentiation from other food production technologies.

Swiss biotech food startup, Cultivated Biosciences, has successfully closed a $5 million seed funding round, signaling a significant step forward in its mission to redefine dairy alternatives. This funding boost will expedite the development of their yeast cream, a groundbreaking ingredient designed in collaboration with the food industry, and pave the way for a US market launch in 2025.
At the Anuga FoodTec trade show in Cologne, Germany, GEA, a leading provider of engineering systems for the food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries, is unveiling a groundbreaking innovation termed as a "technological milestone" — the perfusion platform.
Imaginary an Israeli-based foodtech company developing sustainable and commercially viable animal-free dairy proteins, and Ginkgo Bioworks (NYSE: DNA), which is building the leading platform for cell programming and biosecurity, today announced a new partnership.
Super brewed Food, a pioneering biomass fermentation start-up, has embarked on a transformative journey fueled by surging demand for its innovative postbiotic protein. In response to escalating sales and robust market traction, the company has divested its Minnesota facility and is actively pursuing a larger site to accommodate its burgeoning operations.
Insight Ace Analytic's latest report forecasts a robust growth trajectory for the fermentation-enabled alternative protein market, projecting a value of $1191.06 million by 2031, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14%.
Andrey Dykun
Andrey Dykun
"All-Ukrainian agrarian Council" / Ukrainian Agri Council. Charitable foundation SaveUA.in.Ua
I recently wrote about a conference where the results of the joint project of the All-Ukrainian Agrarian Council (VAR) with the USAID AGRO Program were summarized. Today, as a result of this event, the All-Ukrainian Agrarian Council, on behalf of the agrarians affected by the war, appealed to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine with a request to support the agricultural sector in the occupied and frontline regions.
Torsten Hemme, Founder & Chairman, Dairy expert
Torsten Hemme, Founder & Chairman, Dairy expert