Food companies are stepping up their sustainability efforts by collaborating with their suppliers in response to consumer demand of sustainability and environmental concerns.
FREMONT, CA: An interesting array of innovative ingredients is being developed that can one day help food manufacturers enhance their environmental footprint while improving the functional and sensory benefits of their products. Consumer awareness about climate change and interest in sustainability correlate with the future developments.
According to the NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business's consumer research, customers recognize sustainability to encompass both environmental and social aspects. The significant issues that have been listed by the consumers are rated reducing environmental impact, renewable energy, decreasing waste, mitigating misuse of natural resource, reducing carbon footprint, coming together as a group for the common good, acting in ways that benefit society, maintaining human rights, and poverty reduction.
Many organizations are investing in technologies to reduce some of the issues. Firms are also engaged in research about the viability of microalgae as a food and beverage ingredient. Microalgae are microscopic plants, and their ingredients may be used as a plant-based protein source in the future. If successful, the project could have a positive effect on the environment by reducing the use of fertilizers, water, and electricity.
Companies are focused on gene editing because it allows developers to make detailed changes in living organisms' DNA by eliminating, adding, or substituting nucleotides at particular locations within the genome. In addition, the companies are investing in the growth of wellness and sustainability features of various plants, such as high-fiber wheat, low-THC hemp for fiber, food and CBD, and cold-tolerant oats and pulses with enhanced flavor and protein profile.
Proteins from dairy products, poultry, and meat can be replicated using biotechnology and produce plant-based meat alternatives. Many businesses are also attempting to develop a plant-based fat that is comparable to animal-based fat. Success could increase product quality and speed up the production of plant-based meat alternatives.
Each of these ingredient technologies has the potential to be a game-changer in terms of innovation and entrepreneurship. Success is not guaranteed, but the fact that such technologies are evolving with a sustainability aspect built into their mission demonstrates how the problem has evolved from a subject of consumer concern to a lucrative market ingredient suppliers seem determined to satisfy.