Better food for people and the planet
‘Connecting Food Science and Industry' is the mission of the Stuttgart-based startup Better Food Consulting, which aims to make the food industry's value chains more sustainable. It has long been clear that the production of food imposes burdens on the environment that are becoming more and more noticeable. At the same time, the need for sustainable alternatives to animal protein sources is growing. The startup consisting of three food technologists Dr Sandra Ebert, Lisa Berger and Pascal Moll from the University of Hohenheim is now setting the course for innovation and knowledge transfer with 'Better Food Consulting'.
Every year, around 2,000 new food products find their way onto supermarket shelves. Plant-based alternatives in particular are increasingly in demand and now account for around one fifth of new launches. As a result, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are under constant pressure to innovate to remain competitive. "SMEs are absolute experts in their field," stated Dr Ebert, "but when it comes to using new, unknown ingredients and adapting processes to them, many reach their limits." The result is time-consuming and resource-devouring product development with often manageable success.
The Food Report 2022 of the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture sees the future of food security based on plant-based alternatives. For example, plant proteins consume less water, land and energy than animal proteins; their production is therefore more efficient. However, their use poses some challenges. "Compared to animal protein sources, experience with alternative, plant-based ingredients is still relatively limited. The goal of Better Food Consulting is to share this knowledge with the industry to accelerate the shift to more sustainable and efficient food production," revealed Berger.
In 2019, the three food technologists Dr Ebert, Berger and Moll won the EIT Food student innovation award with their own product idea made from plant-based alternatives. This European initiative promotes projects to make food production more sustainable, healthier and reliable. In the years that followed, the startup launched two of its own healthy and sustainable snack products. "We are very proud of our developments. Now we want to have an even bigger impact and build an innovative and resource-saving food industry together with our customers," added Moll.
"There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to dealing with alternative proteins and other plant-based ingredients. However, the know-how from our PhD and the portfolio of the Core Facility Hohenheim allow us to address these individual issues," continued Dr Ebert. For several months now, the startup has been working closely with the analysis laboratory at the University of Hohenheim and can thus optimize customers' processes and product developments based on individual data and results from cutting-edge research. At the same time, BFC has a large network through which various pilot-scale plants can be arranged. "This is particularly interesting for startups," noted Berger.
After acquiring its first clients last year, BFC is now looking to grow and support more food companies and their product developers in their daily challenges. In doing so, the team constantly keeps an eye on consumer and market trends. "The more targeted the product development, the fewer resources are needed. We look forward to all companies that want to go down this path with us. That's why an initial discussion is always free of charge," concludes Lisa Berger. So it's worth keeping an eye out to see which product will be accompanied by BFC next.
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