How bio-science innovation is shifting the world towards plant-based ingredients.
During the week of June 26th, industry leaders met in Las Vegas, Nevada for one of the world’s premier food and beverage events. To be able to put a finger on the pulse of the future of food and beverage, attendance at the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) conference is mandatory.
This year, an emerging trend was sustainable and healthier food system solutions. Responding to increasingly nutrition-savvy consumers, food, beverage, and nutritional supplement manufacturers are shifting from animal-based products towards plant-based choices. For POS Bio-sciences, this is a positive move. The unique technologies POS has developed in the past few years, places the company in a strong position to benefit from this growth.
A parallel tread is developing with algae proteins, which are set to undergo massive market growth and widespread adoption. This turn towards nutritional segments compliments a more lucrative market, Omega-3s. By 2020, omega-3s are expected to be worth nearly $7B, which represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 15% between 2016-2022.
The success of early pioneer TerraVia has proven to the industry the versatile and functional attributes of algae. Equally important has been the company’s role in transitioning food from its largely antiquated, pastoral roots into what it is now a burgeoning, high-tech sector. Today, more food companies are being borne out of this new wave of innovation than ever before.
As companies like these prove the health and functional benefits of algae, the industry is now facing new, production-related challenges. Today, there is a production shortage. Compounding that problem is a reliance on technologies failing to produce functionally flexible products tailored to consumer preferences.
Nowhere is this production shortage more pronounced than in rapidly emerging economies, like China’s. Research and Markets has found that demand for omega-3-enhanced baby formulas in China is outstripping production capabilities. For these formulas, and other mainstream products, existing algal products have been limited by processing techniques that compromise flavor or require the addition of animal products.
Like traditional processes in the bio-based energy sector, the bio-based nutritional sector have relied on chemicals or solvents to drive production. Using solvents is inherently expensive, and requires additional energy, which adds extra cost to the already high price of the solvent itself. These techniques also have the unfortunate side effect of tasting fishy.
Born out of the same shift towards high-tech foods that accelerated TerraVia’s impressive growth, and supplemented by the introduction of new processing procedures, companies are bringing these products to market in a way that aligns in large part with consumer preferences. By utilizing hydrolysis technology, rather than chemical solvents, these companies circumvent both the price and taste limitations, enabling food to enter its next frontier: flavorless and functional.
In many regards, DHA omega-3s in functional foods are already a well-established dietary component in several distinct areas. Products ranging from Premama’s prenatal nutritional supplements for expectant mothers to Platinum Performance’s wellness products for Olympians have proven the market for this dietary component is established and growing.
In fact, the value of the functional foods market rivals the GDP of many countries, and was worth $130B in 2015 according to Grandview. By supplanting chemical solvent technologies with hydrolysis alternatives, while also offering fish-free options, these products can now be introduced to a far greater range of applications, and will ultimately benefit a greater segment of the population.
The trend is hardly restricted to niche markets. Some of the biggest names in a diverse range of industries are taking note. As we look towards the future of the food and nutritional industries, we should remember how quickly the plant-based protein sector has grown in a short period of time. This incredible growth provides a glimpse into the current opportunity available in the algae industry. As the world confronts the need to feed an ever-swelling population, and address the demand for a more sustainable system, algae have a clearly defined role to play in the new world order of food.
POS Bio-Sciences team members Ben Kelly and Kevin Harmidy are attending BIO World Congress in Montreal from July 23-26. This event provides industry players the opportunity to share the latest advances in renewable chemicals, synthetic biology, enzymes, food ingredients, biofuels and more.