“The vast majority of the population worldwide is eating too much sodium and saturated fat,” and while many consumers know they need to cut back and should eat healthier, “they are not running to get dark leafy greens” because they also want the foods they know, love and that tastes good, Botaniline CEO Mark Celmer told FoodNavigator-USA IFT’s annual meeting in Chicago
At the same time, he added, food allergies are on the rise – pushing consumers to seek products that are free from the top eight, including peanuts and tree nuts, as well as soy.
With this backdrop, Celmer explained Botaniline has developed a patent-pending technology that makes it so consumers do not have to sacrifice health for wellness.
He explained the technology allows manufacturers to cut calories and saturated fat in processed meat by 30-50% and lower sodium 25-95% simply by swapping out a percentage of the protein for potatoes that are boiled at a specific temperature for a set time and then cut and flash frozen. With help from Botaniline experts, a tailored amount of the frozen potatoes are ground into the product in place of some protein.
Once Botaniline’s O’Brien’s Best potato ingredient is introduced into the protein, whether it be a hot dog, sausage, bologna, meatball or other processed meat, three chemical reactions occur, Celmer said.
“First of all, it synthesizes when it is ground, meaning it disappears, meaning you can’t see it, you can’t taste it, you can’t smell it” and the reformulated finished products appears indistinguishable from the original product, he said.
“Second, every protein has a certain functional requirement for sodium in order to bind, but the catalyst process of our technology magnifies or accelerates the functionality of the sodium to that protein so the amount of added salt becomes unnecessary for the most part,” he added.
And, finally, he said, the ingredient “serves as a peptide that chemically holds several times its weight, which means it can replace other binders and fillers, such as soy, MSG, hydrolyzed corn protein or texturized vegetable protein,” most of which are ingredients that many modern consumers are avoiding.
This means ingredient decks are shorter and less likely to include components that are unfamiliar to consumers.
Replacing part of the protein will result in a slightly lower amount of protein per serving, and in cases where 10% or more is swapped manufacturers will need to label potato as the second ingredient according to USDA regulations, Celmer acknowledged.
But, he said, these tradeoffs are “insignificant” compared to the benefit of lowering calories, saturated fat and sodium. Plus, he noted, potatoes can bump up the amount of potassium and other vitamins in the finished product.
Pea-Nutless Butter offers an allergen-friendly option
The company’s other ready-to-market ingredient – Pea-Nutless Butter – appears to be very different from O’Brien’s Best, but at its root it is also plant-based and allergen friendly.
The spread is made from five ingredients – pea, two oils, an emulsifier to hold the oil together, and sugar, Celmer said.
He said the finished product tastes just like peanut butter, according to some of the toughest critics he knows – his young grandchildren. And while it might not have as much protein as nut butters, it is allergen-free, which means it can be used in cookies and sandwiches that can then be sent to schools without compromising anyone’s safety.
Only the beginning
The young company has bold plans to continue to expand its product line, including with the upcoming launch of a Jamaican jerk plant-based meat – the technology for which it has perfected over the last five years, according to Celmer.
But in order to succeed, the company needs to raise funds and generate consumer demand.
On the financial side, the company is currently raising working capital with a goal of garnering $2 million a year for the next three years, Celmer said. After that, he added, the company will be open to strategic investors seeking an ownership piece.
Before it gets to that point, though, Celmer said the company needs to raise demand for its products, which have been successfully tested by many processed meat manufacturers. He said that Botaniline wants to reach dietitians at hospitals, schools, prisons and other institutions with the hope that they will ask for healthier alternatives that use Botaniline’s technology.
Celmer notes that all of these goals are ambitious and that managing them simultaneously could be overwhelming to some, but he is confident that in as little as five years, Botaniline “will be sitting on a $200 million ingredient that will save manufacturers $400 million,” in addition to helping save consumers’ lives by improving their health with higher quality foods.