IFT’s Start-Up Alley offers solutions to today’s problems & tomorrow’s challenges

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

IFT’s Start-Up Alley offers solutions to today’s problems & tomorrow’s challenges
At IFT in Chicago next week, “future-forward entrepreneurs” participating in the NEXT Start-Up Alley will showcase new solutions to some of today’s biggest problems, including food safety and sugar-reduction, as well as emerging challenges of the future, such as minimizing food waste and enhancing sustainability with plant-based options.

According to the conference host, the IFTNEXT ​Start-Up Alley promises to be “bigger and better than ever”​ with solutions to “feed the future and beyond.”

Several of the participating companies are taking on threats to food safety at various points in the supply line and manufacturing process.

AirPHX Environmental, for example, strives to reduce pathogens in food processing and storage facilities by going beyond the capabilities of existing technology such as UV and filters, which focus on just air purification, to treat both the air and surfaces.

AseptoRay also builds on existing UV light technology to kill pathogens by using it to pasteurize liquids without heat. The process cuts energy costs about 75% without compromising safety while also extending shelf life. The company is positioning the technology as an alternative to the extremely popular high pressure processing, which is a current favorite of manufacturers that want to ensure food safety, extend shelf life and not compromise nutritional quality.

Micreos Food Safety takes a different and more targeted approach to eliminating bacteria in the food chain by unleashing tailored phages, “the natural enemy of bacteria,”​ that are designed to kill Listeria and Salmonella but leave so-called good bacteria alone.

The company claims they are “smart, green and easy to apply”​ as a spray, mist or dip, and won’t change the taste, texture or appearance of the final product. As an added bonus for companies worried about clean label trends, phages do not require labeling on finished products.

Upcying biproducts

Food waste is another long-standing problem that is starting to emerge in the consumer consciousness – pushing manufacturers to look for new solutions for biproducts that they previously threw away.

Zea10 ​will show off in the Start-Up Ally how it is using spent brewers’ grains to create plant-based protein and fibers, including one – Beretein – which is ideal for beverages because it is virtually tasteless and soluble.

Clean emulsifiers

Other companies in the Start-Up Alley are tackling how to effectively emulsify and texturize products while maintaining the clean label that so many consumers seek.

Unfamiliar sounding emulsifiers​, starches and gums were early targets of the clean label movement as shoppers demonstrated a willingness to stir, shake and blend products before use rather than consume an ingredient for which they didn’t understand the purpose or that they didn’t recognize.

One potential solution put forward by Renmatix is Simple Cellulose, which the company claims is a “revolutionary”​ ingredient that can substitute for egg, dairy and soy in allergen-free baked goods.

Even though cellulose isn’t an ingredient that is found in most consumers’ kitchens, Renmatix explains on its website that the ingredient is made of dissolved plant fiber that is harvested by breaking apart cell walls with nothing more than water through a proprietary technology. That means no “harsh” acids or alkali, which are used in some competing products and a turn off to some consumers.

The ingredient also taps into consumer desire for plant-based alternatives to animal-based ingredients, as well as other top hitting trends such as non-GMO, non-allergenic, gluten-free and organic eligible.

Another plant-based, clean-label food emulsifier that will be on display in the Start-Up Alley is Floura, a flour-based emulsifier from Phytoption LLC. The young company, which recently spun out of Purdue University, claims Floura outperforms most synthetic and natural food emulsifiers and can be used across platforms in dairy, baked goods, meat products, sauces and creamers.

While not plant-based, startup Geltor  also will showcase its animal-free alternative to the popular emulsifier and stabilizer gelatin, which is derived from animal skin, bones and connective tissue. The company uses synthetic biology to engineer micro-organisms to produce proteins that provide the same benefits as gelatin, but which will be suitable to consumers following a vegan, vegetarian, kosher or halal diet.


Manufacturers scrambling to meet conflicting consumer demands for sugar reduction without sacrificing the sweetness they love, also can find solutions in the Start-Up Alley.

Canadian food ingredient company AmazStev will demonstrate how its proprietary process, NuSense, can eliminate the bitter, metallic aftertaste of stevia, which can be a turnoff to many consumers. The company claims the process is as natural as the stevia extracts it improves, and as such can be certified as organic.

TastyTowne also will offer a solution for the functional benefits of sugar that are sometimes lost in reduction efforts. It claims its baked goods are “taste-and-texture perfect versions of carb-rich foods”​ but with only two net carbs per serving and no sugar or sweeteners. It says on its website that its blends also cut hydrogenated fats and gluten, “but you’d never guess it!”

Beyond these, the Start-Up Alley​ promises an array of solutions that will be on display July 16-18 from 10 am to 4 pm. Check out more participants here.

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