Fermented Functional Raw Materials---New Choice in the Future

Time : 2021-08-23

When it comes to food and beverages, more and more consumers are advocating "returning to nature", choosing products directly obtained from the fields, cultivated in a free-range environment, or gently squeezed from natural resources. Can this approach maximize environmental sustainability? The answer is not necessarily.

Sometimes, getting raw materials from nature consumes more energy, water, land and carbon emissions than producing raw materials in the laboratory. However, at present, the technology used to produce raw materials in the laboratory is as natural as metabolism, and there is no residue of chemical substances and biological drugs, that is fermentation.

New ways of producing functional raw materials

Although consumers know that the production process of wine, beer, cheese, Douchi and CommScope tea is largely caused by fermentation, few people know that fermentation can produce natural functional raw materials. In fact, many people in the food and nutrition industry may not fully understand the power of fermentation to produce raw materials. This process is different from traditional fermentation. It is not inoculating fermentation microorganisms in the starting materials to convert them into completely different substances. The producer puts the target gene into the host microorganism, usually yeast, and then ferments the nutritional medium to produce the target raw material as a by-product. Then, the producer extracts and purifies the raw materials from the fermentation process.

Fermentation has been used in food and beverage preparation for thousands of years. But in terms of raw materials, this is a relatively new production mode. With the maturity of this technology, there will be more choices for its product types, such as citric acid and other acid agents, as well as erythritol. Surprisingly, most sucrose is made from fermented beets, not sugarcane. Another common fermentation raw material is monosodium glutamate. We can also often see sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate, which are label unfriendly raw materials and can be replaced by fermented "glucose".

The essence of fermentation makes the supply chain more lasting

The fermentation process produces more than one or two bioactive molecules, possibly hundreds. It has been found that the fermentation of natural ingredients such as rice or other proteins will produce bitter masking agents, flavor enhancers, coolants, sweeteners and so on. The health benefits of this process far outweigh the raw materials themselves. Fermentation is the ultimate sustainable solution because it requires the least land, water and energy compared with traditional sources, and it can use wasted sugar as fermentation medium.

Erythritol is a typical example. Although some fruits and mushrooms can produce a small amount of erythritol, the cost of extracting the same sweetener from these sources is high, and Cargill's solution is fermentation. This process not only costs less, but also provides consistent and high-quality products and ensures the sustainability of the supply chain. The components produced by fermentation are not affected by the fluctuation of quality and supply, and the plant source is greatly affected.

Relevant fermentation raw material cases

1.Heme: invisible foods is using fermentation to produce vegetarian heme. This protein turns red meat and makes inedible plant meat have the quality of animal meat. Nitrogen fixing plants naturally produce heme and store it in roots, such as soybeans and legumes. Although impossible foods can extract heme from these plants, the economic and environmental costs of doing so urge them to transplant the heme producing gene in soybean into yeast cells, and then yeast cells produce heme through fermentation.

2.Stevia: the sustainability of raw materials promotes Cargill to develop fermentation technology and produce eversweet Stevia sweetener. The most important problem of the best taste parts of Stevia rebaudiana - REB m and REB D - is the feasibility of commercial production and environmental sustainability. The amount of this compound in plant leaves is very small, the cost of extraction by traditional methods is too high and the efficiency is very low. Therefore, Cargill uses a special yeast to produce the same REB m and REB D molecules as Stevia leaves. Fermentation technology can provide customers with a large number of products at reasonable prices and can be widely used for commercial purposes, but environmental factors should be taken into account in production.

3.Vitamin K2: nattopharma uses bacillus to produce the most bioactive form of vitamin K2 - MK-7, which can be fermented from plant matrix. The natural MK-7 was separated by patented technology, purified and concentrated into a high-level active ingredient without known allergens. The product has two characteristics of pure vegetarian and non GM project certification, and resonates with consumers who advocate natural and clean label awareness.

4.Astaxanthin: nextferm claims that it has developed the first yeast derived astaxanthin for human consumption by using fermentation and downstream extraction technology. The products produced have better physical properties and greater market potential than existing sources, and the cost structure is more competitive. The efficacy of finished astaxanthin particles is four times that of astaxanthin from other sources. This technology can make it more widely and easily used in various foods.

5.Fermented fruit and vegetable juice: Florida food products extracts fermented fruit juice and powder from carrots, mushrooms, beets and other plants to meet people's growing demand for flavor from food. The company uses a lactic acid fermentation technology to reduce the sugar content of beet juice by about 10%, so as to create a raw material with fresh taste and low sweetness, and bring the inherent health benefits of beet. Fermented fruit and vegetable products, such as fermented beet juice, provide the formulator with an alternative to cleaning labels without adding spices, acids or flavor enhancers to the finished product

However, fermentation is a complex biological process, and the know-how to create raw materials in this way is a very popular skill, which requires many years of training and experience; Cost effectiveness and organic certification are also matters to be addressed. Fermentation requires strict environmental production control and sanitation facilities to ensure that the required microorganisms are not challenged by harmful microorganisms. In any case, it may take some effort to make fermentation raw materials widely accepted by consumers.

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