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On the Cutting Edge of Fruit Juice Sugar Reduction

Posted on:December 17, 2019

Israeli-based startup Better Juice recently announced that it was teaming up with Brazilian Juice producer Citrosuco SA to establish a pilot plant that will ultimately lead to the production of reduced sugar orange juice. Better Juice Ltd. has developed innovative new enzymatic technology that reduces the load of simple sugars in orange juice.

The patent-pending enzymatic technology uses all-natural ingredients to convert monosaccharides and disaccharides (fructose, glucose and sucrose) into prebiotic and other non-digestible fibers and sugars as the juice passes through a continuous flow column. The resulting reduced sugar juice may taste a bit less sweet but have a more intense fruity flavor.

Better Juice conducted several trials with different beverage companies and succeeded in reducing sugars in orange juice from 30% up to 80%.

“This collaboration with Citrosuco is a vote of confidence in Better Juice’s leading technology and its capabilities for reducing sugar in orange juice,” said Dr. Eran Blachinsky, founder and CEO of Better Juice in an interview with Israeli Innovation News NoCamels (https://bit.ly/2rJIEzd). “We’re excited to work with this strategic partner and help create juices with low sugar—the latest frontier in sugar reduction.”

Sugar reduction currently relies on the addition of high-intensity sweeteners. This new process uses the natural enzymatic activity in non-GMO microorganisms to convert a portion of the simple fructose, glucose and sucrose sugars into fibers and other non-digestible natural sugars, while preserving the full complement of vitamins and other nutrients inherent in the fruit. The technology was developed in collaboration with Hebrew University in Rehovot, Israel as well as seed investment and support from The Kitchen Hub food tech incubator.

Benefits of the enzymatic sugar reduction technology are many, including:
• Ideal for all types of fruit juices and sugars: Sucrose, glucose and fructose
• Adds dietary fibers
• Maintains juice properties, such as smell and taste (except for reducing sweetness)
• Has minimal impact on final juice cost
• Offers flexible capacity
• Integrates easily into existing manufacturer facilities
• Easy and inexpensive to operate and maintain without requiring skilled staff
• Is environmentally friendly since all waste materials are food grade and can be used as feed

Better Juice conducted several trials with different beverage companies and succeeded in reducing sugars in orange juice from 30% up to 80%. The start-up can now provide proof of concept for orange juice.

Product development and applications general manager of Citrosuco, Alex Marie Schuermans, expressed his optimism about his company’s collaboration with Better Juice in an interview with NoCamels: “We have been seeking an orange juice sugar reduction technology for some time. Better Juice’s solution holds a lot of promise and we are confident that by combining their technology with our know-how, we can accelerate production of the first sugar-reduced orange juice.”

Paula Frank
Online Content Manager


Milk and Meat Production Without the Environmental Impact?

Posted on:December 16, 2019

Consumers’ concept of clean labeling has expanded to include the environmental impact of foods and how they’re produced. But, are consumers ready for scientists to begin tampering with the ecological makeup of cows’ digestive system?

How feasible is trapping or reducing methane gas from cows? Technology and consumer acceptance of such will reveal the answer in time.

An article on BBC’s online forum (https://bbc.in/30gn9SF) titled “The Cows that Could Help Fight Climate Change,” by Geoff Watts, published August 7, 2019, presents a scientific study taking place at New Zealand’s farming science research institute—AgResearch, which is striving to reduce methane gas production from cows. Researchers developed a vaccine targeting methanogens, or those microbes that produce methane. The vaccine produces antibodies in the cows’ saliva and rumen that specifically target microbes that negatively affect the environment.

But how toxic is methane gas to the environment? “Methane is one of the most egregious of greenhouse gases, roughly 25 times more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide,” said Watts. In one estimate, livestock reportedly contributes “14% of all greenhouse emissions from human activity.” Aside from carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, methane accounts for more than a third of emissions from agriculture. “The average ruminant produces 250-500 liters of methane a day,” adds Watts, mostly from burping, with a small amount coming from the other end. Globally, livestock emit the methane equivalent of “3.1 gigatons of carbon dioxide …annually.”

Methane gas is produced when the food cows and sheep eat ferments after being decomposed by anaerobic microbes, classified as archaea. This class of microbes account for approximately 3% of the total number of microbes found in the rumen of these animals.

Researcher Sinead Leahy, microbiologist at AgResearch and on secondary assignment to the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Center, used DNA sequencing to understand the role different microbes play in ruminant digestion. Leahy then used gene sequencing to develop a vaccine that produces antibodies specifically targeting methanogens.

To date, only a small number of animals have been given the vaccine. Measuring methane content involves placing the animal in a sealed respiratory chamber allowing only for fresh air flow. “Stale air” is measured for methane content. “But definitive proof that vaccination cuts the amount of methane belched out by cows is still lacking,” said Watts.

Several other methods of methane gas reduction from cows have been suggested. Eileen Wall, head of research at Scotland’s Rural College, explains that cows’ methane output varies, partly due to genetic differences She suggests that selective breeding could reduce methane gas, not in isolation, “but as part of a wider breeding program to develop healthier and more efficient sheep and cows—both these attributes also reduce the greenhouse gases generated per unit of meat and milk.”

Wall noted that the environmental footprint of milk and meat production has already dropped by 20% over the past 20 years. How this has occurred or been measured is not mentioned. But, Wall suggests that breeding lower methane producing cows would only reduce that statistic further. Yet, the downside of this method is that it could be costly and time consuming.

Other proposed methods of methane reduction involve altering the animals’ diet, so that food in the rumen is less prone to decomposition and fermentation via archaea microbes. Phil Garnsworthy, a specialist in dairy cow nutrition at the University of Nottingham, suggested that maize-based sileage might drop methane production by 10%.

Liam Sinclair, researcher of rumen metabolism at Harper Adams University, Shropshire, UK, suggested that legumes and oils such as linseed and soy oil could cut down on the fiber a cow eats, and thus the methane it produces.

Seaweed has also been suggested, as have additives like ionophores, which are classified as antibiotics and banned in the EU. Another additive, 3-nitrooxypropanol (3-NOP), could lower the efficiency of the chemical pathway archaea uses to convert carbon into methane, thereby reducing methane gas production by 30%, hopes the company that produces the additive, added Watts. Probiotics may be another option, but the delivery system is in question when animals feed on grass. And, my all-time favorite suggestion is “fitting cows with burp-collecting backpacks.”

What it all comes down to is this…regardless of the method used in the reduction of methane production, are consumers ready to eat dairy products or meat from cows with rumen that have been ecologically altered? Changing the type of feed might be the least manipulative method of reducing methane gas production from cows and sheep, but as a food scientist attuned to flavor manipulation, I wonder if some of the suggested feed changes might result in detectable flavor changes.

Those seeking clean labeled foods want products with minimal environmental impact, but will the tradeoffs such as vaccines for methanogen antibody production or genetic breeding be acceptable? Personally, I vote for the cow backpack methane gas collectors.

Paula Frank
Online Content Manager

 


Business Insights from Entrepreneurial Companies—Part 2

Posted on:December 4, 2019

“Managing Innovation: From Entrepreneurial Startups to Going Mainstream” offered attendees of the 2019 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar a practical “how to” guide for innovators. It exposed pitfalls and proffered practical solutions to the challenges that plague those struggling at the leading edges of food and beverage development. The second half of the panel on managing innovation continues below (Click here to return to Part 1):

Part 2:

Moderator:
Kara Nielsen, Vice President of Trends and Marketing at Emeryville, California-based CCD

Panelists:
Didier Toubia, CEO of Aleph Farms
Anthony Brahimsha, Founder and CEO of PROMMUS Brands, LLC
Umaima Merchant is the Director of Innovation and Growth at Premier Nutrition
Scott Mandell, Founder and former Chief Executive Officer of Chicago-based Enjoy Life Foods
Mark Haas, Founder and CEO of The Helmsman Group
Note: See Part 1 of “Business Insights from Entrepreneurial Companies” for more in depth biographies

Interdependency
Can innovation start-ups go it alone? Every situation is different, and many considerations come into play, such as the availability of capital, technical and management resources, and infrastructure.

Toubia views his company’s venture as part of an “ecosystem” of alliances with other companies. “It would be very difficult for start-ups, if we didn’t have alliances with other companies to help us build market strategies and to optimize our products and technologies.” Other artificially grown animal protein companies also operate in alliances with large CPG companies.

Brahimsha noted that his current business partner, Mike McCloskey, disrupted the dairy category when he and his spouse, Susan, introduced ultra-filtered, low-lactose, protein- and calcium-concentrated milk to the market in a joint venture between his company, Chicago-based Fairlife, LLC, and The Coca-Cola Company. Fairlife provided the innovation and technology, while large CPG-company Coca Cola provided the distribution.

“What about working with business and innovation incubators,” prompted moderator Nielsen. “Are they a fad or are they here to stay?”

Haas maintained: “They are here to stay.” The terms of such relationships could be tough on small entrepreneurs, he allowed, but “from a big company perspective, it allows them to place a lot of inexpensive bets and retain some control over those companies.”

Mandell demurred, saying, “While I agree that the terms may look good from the venture capital side, they are not always so from the founders’ perspectives.” He cited sub-optimum mentorship support and significant equity grabs exchanged for relatively small investments made by corporate patrons.

Brahimsha suggested that a more important consideration than the capital investments themselves were the values represented by a CPG patron. “While cognizant of the capital contributed by your venture partner, one must also consider the importance of ensuring that your brand values and principles mutually align.”

Innovation Cultures
Then, there are business cultural considerations. Can high-risk, unstructured innovation cultures survive or coexist with highly structured CPG environments? What is innovation culture, and what are its key attributes?

“Innovation culture demands a number of things,” said Mandell. “A big part of that is finding the right people and giving them the right resources to succeed.” Enjoy Life, he continued, scanned the industry to find people with the right mindsets. And then, he emphasized, “we gave them the right to fail;” this is a quality that may not be as tolerated inside highly political CPG corporate cultures. “You can’t expect 100% success 100% of the time…that would be insane,” agreed Haas.

Merchant recalled her time working at Clif Bar. The company was run by the founders’ shared vision for their company. “They went where their passions took them.” They were OK with failure. They were also highly successful. A “scary statistic,” noted Merchant, is that “about 80-85% of new products in CPG markets fail in their second year after launch.”

Given the large up-front investments necessary to launch new products, large CPG companies accountable to investors are seldom in a position to assume large innovation risks. Consequently, large CPG companies tend to groom risk-averse cultures, while start-up companies attract more innovative and risk-friendly employees.

So, adjustments must be made. Mandell explained that, following his company’s acquisition by Mondelez, for high-risk innovation, its parent ran Enjoy Life as a quasi-independent unit—in order to protect its innovation culture. Properly siloed, it seems that competing corporate cultures can coexist.

Building an Authentic, Compelling Narrative
Given that innovation cultures must by tolerant of failure, are there any upsides to failure? Nielsen raised the need for start-up brands to create compelling “innovation stories.” She stated: “Millennials and other consumers like brands about which they can get excited and champion.”

Virtually all start-ups are the outcome of trials, tribulations and failure, agreed Haas. He observed, “Consumers are more attached to brands that reflect a creation story to which they can emotionally connect.”

One need only look back at the compelling “struggle and success” narratives of successful U.S. food and beverage industry icons, ranging from Colonel Sanders’ Kentucky Fried Chicken to Steve Demos’ White Wave Foods (now part of Danone North America), to recognize the truth in these words.

Brahimsha added that, to be effective, a narrative must be absolutely authentic. “Consumers can see right through a product narrative that was developed in a board room, vs. one developed in someone’s garage,” he said.

Merchant added, “While an innovation story is very important for consumers, it is also important for internal customers.” It motivates their efforts to know that they are part of a bigger story.

“Authenticity is huge,” agreed Mandell. One way that Enjoy Life built authenticity with its customers was by constantly interacting with them through social media. “We even asked them whether they would like to participate in our innovation process by letting them evaluate our new innovation products through SurveyMonkey.” For example, “Our number-one selling product, Mini Chips, was the result of moms calling us to ask that, given that kids could eat our allergen-free chocolate chips in chocolate chip cookies, could we just bag the chips separately? Well that was pretty easy!”

So, asked an audience participant, given all the information discussed, “Should innovation focus on following consumers’ stated needs, or should it focus on leading consumers toward specific, not-as-yet identified opportunities?”

Merchant replied: “You do both!” Meeting identified consumer needs or leading them to discover unmet needs are the two great pillars of successful innovation. “But leading lets you venture into the unknown.”

The “Managing Innovation: From Entrepreneurial Startups to Going Mainstream” panel at 2019 Protein Trends & Technologies Business Strategies program

This presentation was given at the 2019 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar. To download free presentations and the Post-conference summary of this event, go to https://www.globalfoodforums.com/store/protein-seminars/

See past and future Protein Trends & Technologies Seminars at https://www.globalfoodforums.com/store/protein-seminars/


Business Insights from Entrepreneurial Companies—Part 1

Posted on:

IN THE WORDS OF ONE INDUSTRY WAG, “If you need to attend a class on innovation, you’re no innovator.” If you agree, not so fast! A panel entitled “Managing Innovation: From Entrepreneurial Startups to Going Mainstream” offered attendees of the 2019 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar a practical “how to” guide for innovators. It exposed pitfalls and proffered practical solutions to the challenges that plague those struggling at the leading edges of food and beverage development.

Read on for this two-part series on innovation.

Part 1:

Kara Nielsen, Vice President of Trends and Marketing at Emeryville, California-based CCD Innovation, a consulting agency focused on food and beverage innovation, moderated the panel. Her panel participants included five highly credentialed industry innovators, representing five very different entrepreneurial skill sets.

 

The panelists were:
Didier Toubia, CEO of Aleph Farms: This is an Israeli start-up company seeking to revolutionize the animal protein industry by artificially growing animal muscle tissues using a technology Toubia equated to producing “hydroponic meat.” He stat-ed that his company was still four years short of entering the market.

 

Anthony Brahimsha, Founder and CEO of PROMMUS Brands, LLC, harkened to his Syrian roots in describing his company’s origins. He was first exposed to the idea of “food as medicine” as a volunteer within Syrian refugee camps. “That experience allowed me to think differently about the foods that we consume here,” said Brahimsha. Chicago-based PROMMUS Brands, LLC introduced a line of high pressure-processed (HPP) hummus products enriched with protein isolates in 2018. These products, assured Brahimsha, were designed to “blow out the competition” on the nutritional label alone.

Umaima Merchant is the Director of Innovation and Growth at Premier Nutrition, a leading consumer brand company whose brands include Power Bar, SupremeProtein and JointJuice. Premier Nutrition is an affiliate of St. Louis, Missouri-based Post Holdings, a large CPG holding company. Merchant presented a largely CPG-based perspective on the challenges of innovation, leavened by her past experiences working with companies like Deloitte and Clif Bar.

Scott Mandell, Founder and former Chief Executive Officer of Chicago-based Enjoy Life Foods, drew upon Enjoy Life’s success in pioneering the market for gluten- and allergen-free foods. He subsequently transferred his entrepreneurial expertise to Chicago-based Cannibistry Labs, a developer of cannabis-based food and beverage products serving a plethora of start-ups in this still nascent market.

Mark Haas, Founder and CEO of The Helmsman Group, has been helping natural and organic companies grow for more than 20 years. With a background leading high-growth brands as well as founding his own contract manufacturing plant, Mark provides experienced insight and strategies to growing food and beverage companies.

 

When to Innovate…Or Not
Kara Nielsen jump-started the discussion by asking whether innovation was always necessary? Marc Haas noted that innovation came in many forms.

“Innovation,” said Haas, “is simply the application of something novel; it can be a new technology; new ingredients; or new ways of communicating a consumer ‘need-state.’” Or it can consist of a marketing campaign.

The type and degree of innovation undertaken depends largely on a company’s particular circumstances, offered Aleph’s Didier Toubia. “There are two ways to look at innovation; large companies are customer-driven, while start-ups are more vision-driven. Customer-driven innovation is much less risky, because one can afford the consumer research needed to mitigate risk.” Start-ups depend on yet-unproven visions of future opportunities.

This concept brought up another important role for innovation: to attract needed visionaries, risk-takers and capital. “We need continued innovation, in order to keep attracting the right kind of people to participate in our efforts,” explained Toubia.

An interesting question posed by Premier Nutrition’s Merchant discussed the role of innovation when a company’s brand is already growing quickly. Does a company apply its resources to pursuing riskier innovations or toward growing its winning brand? “It is a challenge for me to justify allocating resources to the innovation of new products in a fast-growth environment,” Merchant explained. For Premier Nutrition, new growth has come from market expansion into new consumer sectors. She concluded: “Because of the space we compete in, innovation is an option—but not a requirement.”

 

Carving Out Safe Spaces
One thing is clear, however: The high risk and limited resources that define small-company innovation leave little room for error. Thus, entrepreneurs and innovators need to articulate clearly defined business goals in their quest to meet clearly perceived market needs. For Aleph Farms, it was the recognition that most people who like to eat meat want to continue eating meat, not substitutes there-of. “Our goal is to provide real meat without any of the downsides,” said Toubia. Among the downsides he cited were sustainability, land-use practices, production timelines, widespread antibiotics misuse and animal welfare considerations.

Mandell explained, “At the time of Enjoy Life’s founding, nobody owned the allergen-free space that we set out to fill. We set out to build a true moat around our brand identity that would protect our runway to revolutionary innovation.” From day one, he continued, Enjoy Life invested in its own manufacturing facility, in order to maintain total control over production quality and thereby “keep our promise to create products free of all allergens.”

Mandell’s transition as a market service provider with Cannibistry Labs required a different business model altogether. Cannabis is not approved in the U.S. at the Federal level, so development has had to occur on a state-by-state basis and, for now, is not subject to Federal interstate commerce opportunities. The problem, noted Mandell, is that “while many start-up companies are securing cannabis licenses, they don’t know how to develop and commercialize food and beverage products. Our professionals create best-in-class products; develop brands around those products; and then license them to companies within the states where such products are legal.” An unstated advantage of this model is that it helps keep legal liabilities at arm’s length in confusing Federal and State regulatory climates.

Merchant observed that one successful model driving food and beverage innovation is to draw from global influences. Citing Brahimsha’s success in developing a market for traditional but nutritionally boosted hummus products, she noted that many new market ideas have come to the U.S. from other cultures and countries. “Greek yogurt wasn’t a big deal in the U.S. until the early-2000s, when it was introduced and built into a billion-dollar business by the Kurdish-immigrant Chobani family. The U.S. food and beverage industry boasts many similar success stories of immigrant origin.”

Toubia summed it up: “What is important in innovation is to make sure that innovation brings real value to its customers. It’s not just about our vision as entrepreneurs because, for the customer, it really is ‘all about me.’ Sometimes we forget that.”

This panel on innovation will be continued in Part 2


The “Managing Innovation: From Entrepreneurial Startups to Going Mainstream” panel at 2019 Protein Trends & Technologies Business Strategies program

This presentation was given at the 2019 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar. To download free presentations and the Post-conference summary of this event, go to https://www.globalfoodforums.com/store/protein-seminars/

See past and future Protein Trends & Technologies Seminars at https://www.globalfoodforums.com/store/protein-seminars/


Changes in Food Development, Marketing and Distribution to Consumers

Posted on:

“CHANGE HAS NEVER HAPPENED THIS FAST, and it will never be this slow again.”

Andria Long, Growth Advisor, drew upon her years of innovation experience working with consumer-packaged goods (CPG) companies to lay out thought-provoking challenge scenarios for the future food and beverage industries.

Long continued, “Consumers remain at the center of everything.” Pointing to the success of Apple, Inc., she said that innovation is “all about solving consumers need in new ways; they may not know what they need, but when you speak with them, they can clearly tell you what makes them dissatisfied.” So, where to start?

“Convenience is still king!” she continued. “We are spoiled. We don’t even like to cut or peel stuff anymore. It may cost more, but we prefer ‘grab and go.’ And nobody likes to clean utensils…we now want our portion-controlled meals and side dishes purchased and cooked in the same package,” she said.

Then came the gradual retreat of grocery shopping in the onslaught of online economy, for which delivery times have gotten shorter and shorter. “I remember when it used to take one to two days to get a home delivery. Now, I can receive my orders within one-to-two-hour time frames,” said Long. This has also shifted expectations, as “food on demand” rests only a smart phone away from the consumer’s couch.

Fast, home-based delivery services still have growing pains. Long elaborated, “I once ordered a meal kit and was shocked to find that the instructions were overwhelming. Not only that, but they expected me to cut and peel the ingredients. Come on…we don’t do these things anymore…the service failed to reflect my inability to cook!”

Long views Amazon.com as the great game-changer behind this trend: “Amazon rained us to expect not to have to wait for our electronic orders.” Beyond grocery, the U.S. has experienced a proliferation of ready-to-eat home delivery services in urban areas (e.g., GrubHub), she noted.

Small companies are proliferating in this environment. “The market research company, IRI, just published its top-100 company list of pacesetters and, for the first time, small companies represented more than 50% of that list.” But average company lifespans are also declining. Part of this “surge and churn” environment is attributable to lowered barriers to market entry.

At one level, just about anyone can now gain entry into the food industry through sub-contracted services and relationships. Traditional barriers to entry, such as access to manufacturing and distribution systems, are disappearing. For many large CPG companies, said Long, “retailers have now become competitors,” with their private label acting more like brands.

Entrepreneurship has become easier, as expertise is now readily available through innovation incubators, contracted expertise or on-line services. Capital is also more available. “I’ve been shocked by how many entrepreneurs in the Chicago-area start-up community openly say they didn’t know anything about CPG, or food or beverages before they founded their successful companies,” observed Long.

Branding is also being redefined; brands today are less associated with product attributes and more with emotional needs, Long averred. Many consumers attach their loyalty to companies that align with their own values. “We used to define ‘transparency’ by healthy ingredient lists, clean labels, transparent packaging and such,” she said. But now, consumers want more emotional connections to their food, starting with knowing where it was grown and how it was raised. “How many people would have anticipated that an outdoor apparel manufacturer such as Patagonia would ever enter the food and beverage industry based on shared customer values?”

Fast-changing technology combined with rising consumer expectations have pushed the envelope of consumer expectations to new heights and shattered barriers to entry to the food and beverage sector. But consumer expectations are fickle and can quickly change direction. “While the market used to be defined by ‘big fish, small fish,’ it is now defined by ‘fast fish, slow fish,’” she concluded. Be it in a big pond or small, failure to change can prove fatal.

“Impact of Disruption on the Future of Food,” Andria Long, Growth Advisor, www.andrialong.com

This presentation was given at the 2019 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar. To download free presentations and the Post-conference summary of this event, go to https://www.globalfoodforums.com/store/protein-seminars/

See past and future Protein Trends & Technologies Seminars at https://www.globalfoodforums.com/store/protein-seminars/


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