December 14, 2022 — Creating sustainable food production systems and environmentally friendly products and F&B solutions depends on green advances in food science. The next-generation industry cohort of technologies was highlighted at the recent Food Ingredients Europe event (FiE 2022) held in Paris, France.
Every year, the Startup Innovation Challenge 2022 shines a spotlight on companies that set new standards in the food industry. As the organizers of the event emphasize, in 2022 more start-ups have applied for the challenge than ever before. FoodIngredientsFirst caught up with this year’s winners who wanted to share their unique stories.
Edible Bio2Coat coating technology
One of the winners is the Barcelona-based packaging sustainability start-up Bio2Coat, which won the title of Most Innovative Sustainable Solution and Most Innovative Service, Technology or Digital Solution to Support the Foodservice Industry.
Says José Ignacio Velasco, co-founder of Bio2Coat FoodIngredientsFirst about the company’s winning work, a natural, edible coating that extends the shelf life of food products. This win is the culmination of over a decade of work for Bio2Coat.
“Bio2Coat was born from a scientific collaboration between co-founders Farayde Matta and I, which began in 2011 when we first met during my visit to the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC),” says Velasco.
“We immediately identified synergies between our research lines, complementary experience and expertise in food technology and materials science, and more importantly, a shared dream to help our planet by reducing food waste and plastic waste from packaging materials.”
Velasco highlights that the company has benefited from the support and intensive coaching we have received from the EIT Food (Seedbed and Food Accelerator Network), ICEX (Desafía Netherlands), EOI and Ajuntament de Terrassa programmes, as well as participation in relevant events dedicated to food and technology start-ups in agriculture.
“We also received financial support from the governments of Catalonia and Spain (Neotec, Start-Up Capital and Industrial Doctorate programmes) and awards from the EIT Food programmes.”
However, Velasco remains focused on what comes after this award.
“We have so much to do and still much to do to bring our product to market. First of all, we need to complete the first round of investments to accelerate the upcoming team-building stages, launch our production facility and have the first salable product in Q2 2023.” he concludes.
Vanilla Vida tastes like quick success
Israeli company Vanilla Vida has cracked the code of vanilla flavor strength with a computer-controlled curing process and other high-tech cultivation methods that the company says can scientifically produce each batch of vanilla to a specific flavor. The company’s production system won the award for the most innovative processing technology.
“Vanilla Vida grows and supplies the highest quality, customized vanilla pods that perfectly match market and business needs, ensuring a stable supply chain and maximum flavor,” says Gali Fried, Vice President of Business Development and Marketing FoodIngredientsFirst.
“We grow vanilla in climate-controlled greenhouses, achieving higher yields with less land and a zero carbon footprint,” he points out.
“We are drying the vanilla in a data-driven drying room that is the first of its kind and fully automated. We achieve the most concentrated version of the vanilla pod, which allows our customers to use less vanilla for a better flavor.”
Vanilla Vida’s victory comes just two years after its founding.
“Vanilla Vida was launched in 2020 as part of Strauss Group’s ‘The Kitchen Hub’,” says Fried.
“The idea came from the first founder, Shloma Kadosh, a farmer with extensive experience in agriculture. He was visiting Mexico and was impressed by the growth of vanilla, so he started thinking about a solution to grow vanilla anywhere.”
From conception, the results were quick. “By the end of 2021, the company raised $15.5 million from six strategic partners. By mid-2022, the company has built 1.5 acres of climate-controlled greenhouses and an innovative, data-driven, industrial-scale indoor drying facility,” explains Smagły.
“In June 2022, we started large-scale production (treatment) on our beta site. Being able to build it in just six months and achieve high-quality results like we did on a small scale in the lab was amazing.”
As with the other winners, Vanilla Vida now wants to grow. “2023 will be dedicated to increasing crop yields in our greenhouses, setting up additional greenhouses outside of Israel, and closing the proof of concept in the agriculture department,” concludes Fried.
Kern Tec wins with milk upcycling
Austrian upcycling company Kern Tec won the title of Most Innovative Food or Beverage Ingredient thanks to its proprietary processes for converting discarded fruit stones into valuable ingredients, while alternative dairy products took home the award this year.
Michael Beitl, co-founder of Kern Tec, presents the origins of Kern Tec. “Kern Tec started with realizing the huge amount of stone fruit stones thrown away every year: in the European food industry alone, more than 500,000 tonnes of stone fruit stones remain unused – a complete waste of resources,” he says.
“Shortly after, we developed our process for splitting the seeds and extracting the cyanide contained in them, which in the first place opened up the possibility of saving stone fruit seeds on an industrial scale in the food industry.”
“The third and final step, which also helped us succeed at this year’s Fi Europe Awards, was the development of our dairy alternatives. This enables us to provide industry partners with a ready-to-use solution that not only tastes great, but can also be considered the most sustainable resource for non-dairy products,” he concludes.
Beitl now wants to scale the product, albeit in a sustainable way.
“We intend to make our ready-mix available on a large scale to our first B2B customers operating in the dairy and non-dairy segment. Together with them, we want to introduce our new type of alternative milk – as well as additional alternatives to yoghurt, cheese, ice cream and more – and show the market that sustainability, taste and demand go hand in hand.”
Reward in the form of protein meshes from Brevel’s microalgae
Israeli start-up Brevel won the award for the most innovative plant or alternative ingredient thanks to its sustainable microalgae protein.
Yoav Earon, CBO of Brevel, is happy that microalgae protein is getting more recognition.
“The current market for alternative proteins has many issues related to cost, taste, functionality, quality and sustainability. Microalgae are the ultimate source of protein in terms of durability. Unfortunately, the existing possibilities of using microalgae as an alternative protein are associated with very high costs and taste barriers” – he says.
“Our first major operation was to create a microalgae-based protein solution that is able to solve these challenges,” he emphasizes. “Our technology is based on high-tech, sterile and fully automated internal systems illuminated from the inside with high intensity.”
“The unique process enables the production of microalgae at a cost reduction of more than 90%. It contains nutrient-rich ingredients and functions that are only created in the presence of light.”
FiE’s distinguished Fi Innovation Awards highlighted a similar diversity of ventures by some of the key players in the F&B industry.
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