The partnership will also explore lesser-known plant sources and will establish the blueprint for a health-forward and regenerative food system while accelerating Danone’s development of plant-based products, which includes brands like Silk, So Delicious and Follow Your Heart.
Brightseed was already working with Danone North America to probe the phytonutrients present in raw soy, which uncovered 10 times more bioactives than previously known and seven new health areas in a matter of months. That partnership is still active, Brightseed's co-founder and COO Sofia Elizondo told us.
“Brightseed's initial partnership with Danone North America focused on discovery and new insights into soy only,” she said. “This partnership is much broader and includes all plants that power Danone's current and future plant-based portfolio, as well as insights for natural plant-based sources to promote their health priorities.
“This global agreement encompasses and includes the partnership with Danone North America.”
“New ways to address chronic diseases, improve nutrition security, and promote healthy living”
Seventy-five percent of the global food system is derived from 12 plants, crops such as corn, rice, wheat, soy, oats and so on, and there is an “untapped potential to more deeply understand how these plants maintain their health integrity as the cornerstone of the world’s food supply, and explore new territories for plant-based innovations”, according to Brightseed and Danone.
And this is where the Forager platform comes in. Forager maps the world’s plant bioactives – the 99% of compounds that have yet to be characterized, and what Brightseed refers to as “the dark matter of nutrition” - and understands which of them have the greatest impact using a digital model of human health. Discoveries undergo clinical evaluation, regulatory review, and commercial development to deliver powerful, natural solutions.
By 2025, Brightseed aims to have mapped all of the approximately 10 million bioactive compounds in the plant kingdom to their health impacts.
“Leading food companies are increasingly interested in providing products that help to nourish and sustain wellness in their customers, rather than products that contribute to disease,” adds Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH, professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy at Tufts University in Boston and Brightseed scientific advisor.
“Artificial intelligence is a promising way to improve our molecular understanding of plants and foods, so that we can find newer ways to address chronic diseases, improve nutrition security, and promote healthy living.”
Taisa Hansen, SVP of Research and Innovation at Danone Nutricia Research, said that the ultimate goal for the companies is to make this information non-exclusive “so that humanity can benefit from this collective wisdom and move faster towards a healthier, regenerative food future.”
“At Danone, we support health by making it as accessible as possible through food. By partnering with Brightseed, we now have tools to shift the global food-system from one that is yield-driven to one that prioritizes sustainability and health beyond all else,” she added.
“Forager is providing unprecedented visibility into the transformative power plants can have on human health.”