Givaudan-Biosyntia partnership to convert sugar into natural flavour ingredients

By Lynda Searby

- Last updated on GMT

getty | wildpixel
getty | wildpixel

Related tags Sustainability Flavours partnership Collaboration

Under a new collaboration agreement, flavours and fragrances giant Givaudan and Danish biotech firm Biosyntia are jointly exploring the use of fermentation technology for developing natural flavouring ingredients.

The two companies announced today that they have entered into a long-term partnership “focused on the development and manufacture of sustainable, natural ingredients for food and beverage”​. 

Talking to Nutraingredients, Martin Plambech, CEO of Biosyntia, said: “the focus is producing flavour ingredients that are not currently available from natural sources.”

When asked to elaborate on the types of ingredients, he could not share specifics but was able to disclose that the ingredients would be built on the same technology platform as Biosyntia’s BIO-B7 biotin (vitamin B7).

Fermentation processes for small molecules

This proprietary platform is based on a natural fermentation process that uses sugar as the raw material.

“Beet carbohydrate complexes are converted into biotin or other ingredients by microorganisms carrying certain nutrients. These organisms have different ways of using the nutrients. We can use this process to build multiple ingredients,”​ explained Plambech.

The beauty of this platform, he said, is that fermentation has a significant sustainability advantage over “highly polluting”​ chemical synthesis, which uses petro-chemicals and generates high quantities of waste. 

Under the collaboration agreement, Plambech said the focus would be on using this natural process to produce flavour ingredients that aren’t available from natural sources.

“We will be using our expertise in developing and producing ingredients and Givaudan’s focus will be how those ingredients can be used flavour systems,” ​said Plambech.

Mad for sustainability

Any ingredient produced via Biosyntia’s fermentation platform will benefit from these sustainability credentials - something that is becoming increasingly sought after by manufacturers of food, supplement and personal care products, according to Plambech.

“My experience is that sustainability has gone from being a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘need to have’. It is really in the last three years that this has happened and that interest in sustainably produced ingredients has accelerated,”​ he said.

The acid test is whether companies are prepared to pay a premium for a sustainable alternative, which, in the case of biotin is considerable: BIO-B7 is five to six times more expensive than chemically-produced biotin.

But according to Plambech, the higher cost doesn’t seem to be a deterrent to manufacturers in the personal care industry - BIO-B7’s first target industry.

Prepared to pay a premium

“Personal care and cosmetic companies will pay the premium because the active ingredient accounts for such a small part of the total recipe cost. The sustainability benefit they gain is worth the minor impact on profit margin,” ​he said.

What’s more, Plambech said that companies in the supplements industry also seem prepared to pay more for sustainable ingredients, a “pleasant surprise” ​that has made Biosyntia “more aggressive” ​with its food grade production strategy.

The company expects to have its first batch of cosmetic grade BIO-B7 on the market next year, and is currently looking at how it can get food grade biotin market ready as soon as possible.

Supply stability

Another factor driving the industry’s interest in BIO-B7 is the supply stability and traceability that it offers, said Plambech.

“Most vitamins are produced synthetically in China but following events in recent years, companies are rethinking centralisation of production in one country. They are increasingly seeing value in European-based production from a supply stability point of view. I think this is something that will become more and more important in the future.”

Besides flavour ingredients and BIO-B7, Biosyntia is looking at what other ingredients could be produced more sustainably and more efficiently with its fermentation platform, and said its next focus was likely to be flavonoids.

“Some flavonoids are expensive, some are hard to extract from the plant and some are inefficient in the way they are cultivated. Our method can produce them more cheaply and more sustainably whilst ensuring stable supply.

All plant bio-actives that are difficult to access are of potential interest, in particular those with anti-viral benefits,” ​noted Plambech.

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