Brazilian upcycled ingredients start-up Fibervita took home Kellogg’s prize for its gut health focus, and French alternative meats maker 77 Foods impressed Unilever with its innovative technology

Foodtech start-ups Fibervita and 77 Foods have been crowned winners of the Innovation Challenge, the competition organised by the organisers of Future Food-Tech in partnership with Kellogg Company and Unilever. More than 100 international entries were received across the two challenges.  

The San Francisco, virtual edition of the Future Food-Tech summit began yesterday. D’Anne Hayman, vice-president of global innovation and nutrition at Kellogg Company and André Pots, director of product and process science, foods and refreshment at Unilever revealed the winners at the event.

Commenting on Fibervita, Hyman said: “While a number of start-ups submitted tremendous ideas for improving gut wellness, Fibervita truly stood out for its outside-the-box thinking around sustainability – especially its use of a locally-sourced ingredient widely available in emerging markets.”

Headquartered in Chapecó, a municipality in the state of Santa Catarina, in southern Brazil, Fibervita pioneered in developing a proprietary technology at industrial scale to launch an upcycled ingredient portfolio. The company is producing sustainable, multifunctional, versatile, healthy, clean label, allergen-, gluten- and GMO-free cassava-based fibrous ingredients.

Fibervita’s ingredient has multiple applications in cereal formulations, dairy and related products, and processed meat products.

Fibervita ingredient. Photo as seen on the company website

Hayman added: “As Kellogg continues to shape the future of food, we’re excited to talk further with the Fibervita team about how we can work together to improve digestive wellness – and along with it, societal wellbeing too.”

Fibervita seeks to provide cassava fibres to nourish people beyond food but also support health and wellness.

Innovation in alternative protein

Parisian start-up 77 Foods is developing a 100% vegetable edible fat with the ambition of offering different types of vegetable meats, starting with bacon.

Lardons made by 77 Foods. Photo as seen on the company website

The company’s technology allows it to encapsulate plant oils such as sunflower oil, canola oil, and others, using only ingredients coming from plants. Thanks to this innovation, it is possible to make a plant-based adipose tissue that closely resembles that of meat, that can be sliced, cooked, and slowly releases oil upon cooking.

Unilever’s Pots commented: “We were delighted to receive numerous applications from start-ups around the world, all keen to support Unilever with our plant-based challenge. 77 Foods, in our view, had the strongest consumer-centric pitch, highlighting the importance of the animal fat that gives delicious meat products it’s flavour when developing plant-based products.”

Pot noted that 77 Foods claims to have cracked the savour taste from conventional animal fat, which is not an easy one we know. “We are looking forward to discussing opportunities with the 77 Foods team to support us in our mission to achieve annual sales of €1bn from plant-based meat and dairy alternatives.”

Six finalists were selected for the Unilever and Kellogg Innovation Challenge through an in-depth review and judging process, including US-based Comet Bio, French start-up Green Spot Technologies, India’s ProMeat of India, and Eight Day Foods from Australia. These companies, together with the competition winners, presented to the judges at the Future Food-Tech summit on 11 March.

Oliver Katz, conference producer at Future Food-Tech, said: “We were delighted by the calibre and diversity of fresh solutions presented from across the globe as innovators showcased new technologies to solve the two diverse challenges presented by Kellogg Company and Unilever. Congratulations to the two winners and we can’t wait to hear more from all these pioneering start-ups over the coming months.”

Date published: 12 March 2021