Trendspotting at IFT First 2022: From upcycled foods to plant-based meat and dairy innovation

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Trendspotting at IFT First 2022: From upcycled foods to plant-based meat and dairy innovation

Related tags IFT First plant-based upcycled foods

The IFT First 2022 show floor was abundant with companies touting their upcycled ingredients and other exhibitors highlighting plant-based meat and dairy innovation. Take a look at some of the trends highlighted at the show this year.

ReGrained: 'It's all about activating the upcycled food economy'

As one of the founding members of the Upcycled Foods Association, ReGrained (d.b.a. Upcycled Foods Inc.) has helped galvanize the broader food and beverage industry to take a hard look at how they can reduce food waste within their operations.

"It's all about activating the upcycled food economy, and to do that it's not just about identifying these really interesting overlooked supply chains like brewers grain, cacao fruit, and coffee leaf, but creating solutions from them that food product developers can more easily formulate products with,"​ said Daniel Kurzrock, CEO and founder of Upcycled Foods Inc.

Putting that idea into action, ReGrained partnered with global ingredients supplier Kerry to develop an upcycled protein crisp, an ingredient solution for adding texture and nutrition that can be used in bars, clusters, and other snack products.

"It's the first of we hope many platforms for upcycled foods,"​ said Kurzrock.


EverGrain Ingredients: Plant-based ultra-high protein drink

EverGrain Ingredients, which uses spent brewers grain to create its EverPro barley protein, showcased prototype plant-based protein drinks that it claimed can rival whey-based products such as Muscle Milk and Premier Protein with 35g of protein and 5g of sugar per serving and a smooth creamy mouthfeel.

"The benefits of EverPro are its high solubility and low viscosity, so we can add a high inclusion of protein. In other plant-based proteins you're not going to see that,"​ claimed founder and CEO Gregory Belt. 


FruitSmart: Fruit fiber reimagined

FruitSmart upcycles fruit that doesn't make it into the retail market due to cosmetic reasons (a.k.a. 'ugly' fruit), and processes it into a wide variety of fruit juices, purées, concentrates, essences, fibers, seeds, seed oils, and seed powders which can be used by food and beverage manufactures to create beverages, snacks, and other products.

"We upcycle everything and there's virtually nothing left of the fruit when we're done,"​ said FruitSmart president Wayne Lutomoski, who also noted that FruitSmart took part in the Upcycled Foods Association's pilot program last year and recently received the organization's certification mark. 

"It’s emblematic of how FruitSmart is passionate about getting creative with fruit, as well as helping make our customers’ ideas reality."


AgriFiber showcases soluble fibers portfolio

AgriFiber highlighted its soluble fiber portfolio featuring upcycled corn and oat fibers for formulation in non-dairy based applications.

“They’re functional in formulation, and they’re clinically validated​ for prebiotic effect. We’re confident that soluble fiber is the key to better plant-based formulation," ​said AgriFiber CEO Jonathan Kahn, who acquired the assets of the company five years ago and spent 3.5 years in development and building up capacity for its ingredients portfolio, which will soon expand from two to eight products. 

"This year is really about raising awareness and the real growth is happening now."


Chinova CEO talks next chapter of growth

Since 2019, Chinova Bioworks has launched a slew of product variations of its mushroom-derived chitosan ingredient Chiber, an antimicrobial natural food preservative made from upcycled mushroom stems, addressing six major food and beverage categories including dairy, beverages, plant-based dairy, plant-based meat, soft spreads and dips, and more recently, baked goods. 

"What we do is look what the most common spoilage microorganisms are in any given category, and we then customize Chiber to target those spoilage issues,"​ said Chinova Bioworks founder and CEO Natasha Dhayagude. 

Dhayagude noted how IFT First 2022 was the first opportunity her team has had to meet many of the startup's customers face-to-face since launching three years ago and that interest has been building, leading the company to move into a new 20,000-square-foot facility to meet growing demand and supported by its recent Series A funding.

The company is now working on another innovative functional mushroom ingredient that offers wine, beer, seltzer, and cider producers a vegan alternative to synthetic fining agents. 

Chinova also recently received a letter of No Questions from the FDA for the GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) Status of its Chiber ingredient for use as a food ingredient.


AAK: More realistic-looking plant-based pepperoni

Demonstrating the functionality of its coconut oil ingredients in meat products such as pepperoni, AAK debuted its patent-pending white particulate flakes made with coconut oil and fiber, creating visual marbling for more realistic-looking meat alternatives.

"Earlier this year​ we filed a patent for a coconut oil and fiber particulate blend that helps provide the look and feel of pepperoni and when you do heat it up it doesn't just melt out,"​ said Ryan Branch, senior marketing manager at AAK.


Edlong: Innovate, don't duplicate

Instead of being forever disappointed by the fact that most non-dairy cheese alternatives don't fully live up to the taste and sensory profile of their dairy counterparts, dairy flavor specialist Edlong suggests that rather than trying to replicate varieties of dairy cheese, non-dairy cheese producers should try flipping the script and create a product that provides an entirely separate and unique consumer experience.

"A lot of what we're hearing is less about recreating and more about innovating. No matter what your product is, it's always going to be a plant-based version of cheddar," ​said Anne Marie Butler, global director of innovation and commercial development at Edlong, who led a wine and plant-based cheese tasting featuring the company's Edna's Reserve plant-based cheese comprised of 31% fat (from coconut oil), 6% fava bean protein, and starch.


Beneo: Fava bean protein gains steam

In the world of plant-based proteins, fava bean has grown significantly in recent years due to its naturally high protein content, texturizing properties (for plant-based meat applications), and lower environmental footprint, claimed Beneo. 

"Functional proteins is an area where we see a lot of growth as a company. About one in four consumers globally identify as flexitarians, and it's really those flexitarians that are driving the plant-based trend. So understanding what they want is really important and our focus,"​ said Steven Gumeny, regional product manager at Beneo, who said that its new fava bean protein addresses consumers' nutrition needs and offers enhanced versatility in some applications.

"In the baking space, you can not only add protein but in some cases it can replace egg in certain applications. It's a very functional protein on top of being a great source of protein."

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