Startup Pavilion at IFT FIRST showcases sustainable, better-for-you solutions

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Getty/	KatarzynaBialasiewicz
Source: Getty/ KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Related tags IFT First

The Startup Pavilion at the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual Food Improved by Research Science and Technology (IFT FIRST) conference in Chicago this month will feature 100 food and tech businesses ranging from pre-seed to growth stage featuring cutting-edge solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing the food system.

Innovative ingredients, products and services on display will tackle far-reaching systemic challenges and opportunities including climate change, water stewardship, food safety, supply chain security, diet-related disease and functional wellness and digital solutions for a quickly evolving landscape.

The startups in the pavilion also have a chance to win up to $10,000 in a high-speed pitch competition presented by Seeding The Future Foundation.

Sustainable solutions: From upcycling to net-zero production

Upcycling, or redirecting would-be wasted by-products from food production to feed humans, has emerged as one of the hottest trends in innovation in recent years with more than half of consumers indicating an increased intent to buy Upcycled Certified foods and the category is projected to reach $80 billion by 2032, according​ to the Upcycled Trade Association.

At IFT FIRST, companies across categories will showcase upcycled solutions, including Apparo, Inc, (Booth 4474H)​ which makes sunflower protein from would-be wasted sunflower seed meal. The company’s Solistein 001 and 002 both include more than 90% protein but offer different functional and flavor characteristics. According to the company, Solistein 001 is sweet and more than 90% soluble and Solistein 002 offers texture and a “clean low impact flavor profile.”

Other companies showcasing upcycled ingredients include: Nutraberry (Booth 4474AG)​, which upcycles berry seeds created during the production of seedless purees into powders and cold pressed oil for supplements, functional food and personal care items; Pectcof BV (Booth 4474AH)​, which upcycles the pulp from coffee beans into the plant-based hydrocolloid Dutch Gum; Terra Bioindustries (Booth 4474AX)​, which upcycles sidestreams, like spent grain, into syrups and proteins; and BioVeritas, (Booth 4474V)​, which creates clean-label solutions from upcycled ingredients.

Other sustainable solutions that will be on display include Arborea​’s Biosolar Leaf production (Booth 4474Q)​, which the startup says “makes food without the footprint” via a cost-effective biomimetic approach that uses CO2 and sunlight but skips the fertile land and agricultural feedstocks needed by other production methods.

Water stewardship solutions are another area of interest and Floco Process(4474U)​ will showcase its water- and energy-saving pipe and tank cleaning and sterilization processes, while 1Watermark (4474BJ) ​will share details on its Good Water certification, which indicates “safe, healthy and responsibly sourced water,” according to the company.

Alternative proteins offer sustainable nutrition, better-for-you options

Recognizing the environmental toll of conventional animal protein production, several companies will showcase more sustainable alternative proteins that also offer supply and price stability as well as enhanced taste and nutrition.

For example, Cultivated Biosciences (Booth 4474X)​ offers a clean-label emulsion from yeast that can enhance the creaminess of plant-based dairy – reducing the reliance on animal-based dairy, which it notes causes 4% of globally greenhouse gas emissions.

Myceilum-based proteins also will feature prominently within the startup pavilion, including from m+ Protein (Booth 4474BE)​, which creates mushroom-based protein for meat alternatives via fermentation from morel, Lion’s Mane and other edible mushrooms. The Protein Brewery (Booth 4474AD)​ also will showcase its protein- and fiber-rich flagship ingredient Fermotein from mycelium fermentation.

NuCicer (Booth 4474AJ)​ also offers range of high-protein ingredients from chickpeas, including dehulled chickpeas, flour and protein, which it says offer “improved environmental resilience to enable a sustainable, nutritious future.”

Several companies showcasing also are leveraging precision fermentation to create alternative proteins, including Onego Bio (Booth 4474AI)​, which makes real egg protein via precision fermentation without the animals, and says has an environmental footprint that is 90% smaller than eggs from chickens.

Superbrewed Food (Booth 4474AV)​ also offers and animal-free protein made from microflora native to the human microbiome to deliver what it characterizes as “superior nutritional and functional benefits.”

Superfoods offer better-for-you health and wellness solutions

Superfoods will star alongside alternative proteins in the Startup Pavilion, including several nutrient dense fruits – such as antioxidant-rich baobab from Baobab Foods (Booth 4474AN)​ and KAIBAE, The Lost Crops Company (Booth 4474BO)​, ginger, turmeric and garlic products from vertically integrated marketer About Happy Veg (Booth 4474A)​, aronia berry-based products from A+ Berry (Booth 4474AS)​, and herbal teas, Shilajit and goat milk from Amu Nutrition (Booth 4474BB).

At least two companies will showcase ingredients based on those from human milk to enhance human health, including BIOMILQ (Booth 4474AB)​, which makes bioauthentic  human milk ingredients to support gut and brain health, and Helaina (Booth4474AY)​, which makes immune-nourishing glycoproteins that it says offer the health benefits of breast milk proteins to all stages of life.

Sugar reduction is another top theme throughout the show, but which will be promoted by Natural Sweeteners (Booth 4474BQ)​. The woman-owned company says it specializes in sugar reduction using all natural, clean label solutions.

Food safety and supply chain security

Several startups will highlight food safety and supply chain management solutions.

For example, 5 log reduction (Booth 4474AM)​ is a contract lab that offers microbiology testing, and Talam Biotech (Booth 4474B)​ offers heavy metal detection and reduction with a focus on arsenic in rice, cadmium in spinach and arsenic and cadmium in wheat.

Chicago-based startup GrowinCo (Booth 4474T) ​is helping to reinforce supply chains by helping CPGs find idle production capacity via its co-manufacturing, co-packing and sourcing platform that includes a network of more than 70,000 co-packers and co-manufacturers.


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