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A golden future for natural egg white replacers [Interview]

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Egg whites have a large environmental footprint and are considered the ‘king of ingredients’ due to their superior functionalities. We caught up with CEO Corjan van den Berg to discuss how FUMI’s technology to develop an egg white replacer from natural yeast is likely to remove the animal-based ingredient from 25-50% of food products in the supermarkets in the next 5 years.
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How did it all start? What was the beginning of FUMI ingredients?

“The 2 co-founders of FUMI Ingredients met at Wageningen University, at the bioprocess engineering department. We performed 4 years of research on the valorisation of microalgae, with a specific focus on functional proteins. We figured that the fundamental science we were working on would be translatable to an interesting business case.”

Why egg white? What is new about the solution you came up with?

“Initially when we were measuring the ingredient technical functionalities, we wanted to compare our extract with animal-based ingredient functionalities. To our surprise, we saw that our ingredient was performing very comparable to egg whites. Egg whites have a large environmental footprint and it is considered the ‘king of ingredients’ due to its superior functionalities. The moment we therefore realised that we had an egg white replacer in our hands, we knew we could build a company upon this.”

What is the technology you are working with? Is it easy to scale up? 

“We use a smart combination of process technologies, deep knowledge on protein functionalities, as well as a lot of knowledge on microbial cell physiology to develop scalable processes. We don't use solvents, extreme temperatures or GMOs which make the process rather scalable. Additionally, we are working with natural yeast sources which are abundantly available and ensures all-year-round production of our raw materials.”

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What is the name of the ingredient on the label? Is it natural?

“The name is still tentative, as we need to take some legislative food labelling aspects into account. However, we intend to call the egg white replacer ‘natural yeast protein.’”

Are there other ingredients you are working on?

“As a matter of fact, we are! We are launching an ingredient that is rich in fibres which we intend to launch as ‘natural yeast fibre.’”

What are your plans for the future? How do you intend to grow the company?

“We intend to expand the portfolio of ingredients. We believe our technology is more widely applicable than just yeast. The next micro-organisms that we will tackle could be micro-algae, fungi and/or bacteria. We are evaluating this at the moment.”

What are your predictions for the F&B industry over the next 3-5 years?

“The demand for egg white replacers is going through the roof and I don't think this plant-based trend is going anywhere, either. In 5 years’ time, I think 25-50% of food products in the supermarkets will have ditched egg whites, moving towards recipes that don't require this ingredient anymore.” 

Don’t miss Corjan van den Berg’s presentation ‘Development of an egg white replacer from natural single cell proteins’ during Fi Europe CONNECT 2020, from 23 November – 4 December.

 

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