Several Monday sessions on the Flavors, Fragrances, and Food Ingredients Track highlighted the challenges and opportunities for biotech products within the sector.
Monday morning’s “Synthesizing Specialty Ingredients for Cosmetics, Flavors, Food Ingredients, and Fragrances” breakout session was met with a packed house. David Demirjian, President & CEO of zuChem, Inc. moderated the panel, which featured the following speakers:
- Pascal Longchamp, VP and Chief Business Officer, Evolva
- Emmanuel Petiot – CEO, Deinove
- Pramod Kumbhar – CTO and Executive Vice Prseident, Praj Matrix
- Rainer Figge – Director, Business Development, Alderys
zuChem is focused on using a biological approach to produce rare sugars, which are key in the development of new sweeteners, antimicrobial drugs, and other products. These rare sugars are typically difficult and expensive to produce on a large scale from traditional chemical methods.
Evolva describes itself as a “21st century brewer” of specialty ingredients, using synthetic biology and yeast to create products like stevia, nootkatone (which can be used as an insect repellant) and resveratrol (which is a healthy ingredient normally found in red wine). Their process can be used to solve nature’s supply chain issues, creating typically high cost food ingredients like vanillin and saffron for more sustainable, consistent prices.
Deinove is using bacterial strains to product new ingredients and now has a collection of more than 6,000 bacterial strains, including 2,500 of the Deinococcus genus. Deinococcus provides key advantages, as its pathway for biosynthesis of useful compounds is already present and active, making it easier and more cost efficient to use.
Praj Matrix is the R&D division of Praj Industries, offering biobased solutions. As Pramod Kumbhar noted, consumers are moving toward “natural label” flavors and fragrances, and bio-catalysis has significant potential for the synthesis of natural products.
Alderys is designing yeast strains and processes for the industrial production of high-value chemicals by bio-fermentation, creating an alternative to petrochemicals. As Rainer Figge noted, the market wants high functionality at a low price, “naturalness” and sustainable sourcing. Synthetic biology provides a pathway to lower production costs, while maintaining that naturalness and sustainability for a number of food and cosmetic ingredients.
An afternoon plenary session on “Biotech and the Future of Food Ingredients, Flavorings, and Personal Care” further explored the state of play for biobased products in this sector. Gwen Rosenberg, President of Rosenberg Business Communications moderated the panel. Speakers included:
- Jill Zullo – Vice President, Bioindustrials NA, Cargill
- Jim Lacoponi – Senior Vice President, Industrial Products, Amyris
- Markus Pompejus – Vice President, Innovation and Scouting Bioscience Research, BASF
Pompejus noted that there is “no premium on a bio product” in this sector, so it’s critical to be competitive. Zullo echoed that sentiment, commenting that it’s important to deliver a product that is cheaper or tastes better – biotech provides an opportunity to do that, but it’s important to be direct with the consumer.
The need for clear communication was a clear theme of the plenary. With the market trending toward a greater emphasis on sustainability, biotech companies have a huge opportunity to make the case for biobased products in this arena.