Cargill and Renmatix have agreed to jointly explore new approaches for upcycling plant materials into functional food ingredients. They will use a proprietary water-based technology from Renmatix called the Plantrose Process and Cargill's preferred feedstocks to develop alternatives for emulsifiers and hydrocolloids.
The six-month partnership will test this technology for processing unused plant materials and converting them into functional food ingredients to be used in baked goods, dairy, soups, sauces and meat products, according to Food Ingredients 1st. The process doesn't require any harsh solvents, acids or costly enzymes.
Renmatix CEO Mike Hamilton said in a release the food industry is turning more to plant-based ingredients in order to deliver taste, functionality and label-friendly appeal. "Upcycling, the process of transforming unused feedstocks into new, higher-value materials, is the next step in creating a more sustainable value chain and generating exciting new product benefits," he said.
This joint development agreement could benefit both Cargill and Renmatix. The former has access to plenty of raw plant-based materials that might otherwise be wasted, while the latter has developed a patented process to break down biomass into more environmentally friendly ingredients using just water pressure and heat.
Because Renmatix's process is so different than the chemical-based ways of making such ingredients, it could appeal to consumers wanting cleaner labels and more reused materials.
Renmatix has already developed a product called Nouravant, which is made from upcycled maple fiber. It is used for emulsification and shelf life extension — two sought-after qualities for CPG manufacturers in products including baked goods. The company said in a May release that its plant-based Nouravant isn't subject to price and supply volatility as animal-based ingredients, so it could save food makers 25% to 50% by using it instead of conventional ingredients, like using Nouravant to replace eggs in cookies.
Manufacturers may also be interested in potential savings from new ingredients developed through this joint agreement. More natural products might help avoid commonly used emulsifiers such as mono- and diglycerides and could help trim operational costs and improve product performance, Renmatix CEO Mike Hamilton told Food Ingredients 1st.
Cargill Global Texturizers and Specialties Strategic Marketing Lead Yusuf Wazirzada told Food Navigator the company had identified some raw materials it will focus on with Renmatix's water-based technology, but did not say what they are for competitive reasons.
Other ingredients companies are working on using upcycled ingredients and they're tapping into the growing market for sustainability. According to Future Marketing Insights, the food waste business is worth $46.7 billion in 2019 and could grow 5% during the next decade.
There are many startups and Big Food players getting into this trend. Planetarians has developed a protein flour from defatted sunflower seeds left over from oil extraction, AB InBev has invested in beverage startup Canvas on fiber-rich drinks using spent grains and ReGrained has used them in granola bars.
Besides a large supply of raw plant-based materials — corn and wheat are two major ones — Cargill also offers its significant influence and reach within the food and ingredients industry. This could mean a greater focus on reducing the problem of food waste and pushing upcycling into becoming an even bigger trend in 2020 and beyond.