New Biotechnology Serves Benefits to the Food Industry

By Kitty Wheeler
Biotechnology, and particularly precision fermentation, is one of the most promising innovations in the food industry, as it requires far fewer resources than conventional agricultural and food processing techniques.
Major companies Danone, Michelin and DMC, collaborate to create a biotechnology platform to better the food industry through upgraded fermentation use.

The Biotech Open Platform has been designed by French companies, Danone (food products) and Michelin (tire manufacturing), and the American DMC Biotechnologies (biotechnology company) to upgrade the worldwide use of fermentation for the food industry.

Fermentation is an ancient technique that has been adapted and refined by modern food companies to create a huge variety of products that are enjoyed by consumers worldwide.

The process is primarily used by food and beverage companies to produce: unique flavours and textures, preserve and extend shelf life, improve digestibility and nutritional value, create alcoholic beverages, and produce beneficial compounds in fermented dairy products.

Yet this new platform uses precision fermentation, which is a modern upgrade that differs from traditional fermentation, by enabling precise control over microorganisms and production process, leading to higher efficiency and better quality of products.

With investment from regional bank investor, Crédit Agricole Centre France, and a funding of over USD$17m in the first phase, the platform will be located in Clermont-Ferrand in France, within the Parc Cataroux Center for Sustainable Materials, an innovation accelerator supported by Michelin. 

This collaboration not only aims to gain access to biotechnology research and solutions, but also strives to address environmental challenges and promote a more sustainable economy. 

How can the food industry benefit from precision fermentation?

Increased efficiency

Fermentation processes can be optimised and controlled in a highly precise manner, leading to more efficient production of desired ingredients, which can result in lower costs and increased productivity, making food products more affordable and accessible.

Improved food security

Precision fermentation can provide alternative sources of nutrients and ingredients, particularly in regions with limited agricultural resources or adverse climate conditions.

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Novel ingredients

Precision fermentation enables the production of novel ingredients that are difficult or impossible to obtain through traditional methods. 

This can lead to the development of new food products with unique flavours, textures, and nutritional profiles, catering to evolving consumer preferences and dietary needs.

Scalability 

Fermentation processes can be scaled up or down relatively easily, allowing for flexible production capacity to meet changing market demands.

Animal welfare

By reducing the reliance on animal-derived products, precision fermentation can contribute to improved animal welfare by reducing the need for intensive animal farming practices.

Food waste

Precise control over fermentation processes can also lead to more efficient utilisation of raw materials, reducing waste and contributing to a more sustainable food system.

How does this project feed into global food industry sustainability goals?

As the food industry looks for alternatives to fossil-based resources, it is turning to innovative and sustainable solutions to meet its supply needs while providing more efficient materials.

Precision fermentation allows for the sustainable production of various food ingredients, such as proteins, fats, and flavours, without relying on traditional agriculture or animal farming.

And this can reduce the environmental impact associated with conventional food production methods, such as land use, water consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Antoine de Saint-Affrique, CEO of Danone, believes in "investing in the future of food", and that this partnership is "the next step in this journey."

The collaboration between these companies brings together expertise from various domains.

Danone has a vested interest in sustainable packaging solutions, DMC, a cooperative of wine producers, contributes its expertise in fermentation processes, and Michelin, is interested in exploring sustainable materials for its products.

By combining their resources and knowledge, these companies aim to develop a sustainable solution for plastic waste that can be implemented on an industrial scale, thereby contributing to a more circular and environmentally friendly economy.

Antoine de Saint-Affrique, CEO of Danone, says: “We look forward to working with our partners to develop cutting-edge fermentation technologies which will accelerate innovation, health benefits and decarbonisation in the food industry.”

The best part is, this project doesn’t just have scope to improve the food industry, but also immense potential for applications across industries like agriculture, materials, and energy.

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