October 16, 2023
At a Glance
- There has never been more ways to produce ingredients.
- From synthetic botanicals to precision fermentation—and more.
- Tech track at SupplySide West explores many of these technologies.
Today’s technology in the ingredients world offers the promise of not just a green play through sustainable production practices but also an economic play by making ingredient production less costly.
That’s the idea behind many of these new technologies, says Tim Avila, president of Systems Bioscience, in a video interview filmed at Natural Products Expo East (see above).
“There’s never been a better time to find ingredients that can be helpful and bioactive and then produce them cost-effectively,” said Avila. “On the production side, there’s never been more ways to make a key ingredient—you can do it through molecular farming, expressing it in corn, expressing it in micro-organisms, there’s precision fermentation, and increases in extraction and isolation and purification, things like that.”
The pace of innovation is accelerating, which is leading to increases in both scale and volume. It provides accessible options for brands looking to source bioactive ingredients that are otherwise hard to find.
Synthetic botanicals, for example, are an increasingly popular way to produce plant bioactives without going through the trouble of actually planting, tending, harvesting and shipping consistent plant bioactive material.
“Formulators will have an abundance of ingredients to choose from and they will be less costly,” said Avila. “We can actually get accessibility and affordability and spread more health to more people.”
Technology innovations will be the topic of a three-hour conference education track at SupplySide West, next Tuesday, Oct. 24, from 1:00-4:00pm in the Islander Ballroom C in the Mandalay Bay resort.
Topics to be covered in the tech track include using artificial intelligence to create intelligent cell-signaling peptide ingredients, designing cellular technology to produce bioactives, using blockchain to vouchsafe ingredient sourcing—and discussions over whether this technology is truly necessary in a natural products marketplace.
“Many people immediately jump to GMO questions,” says Avila. “But there are technologies that are truly natural and organic that use some of these new process innovations.”
Separating which technologies offer sustainable solutions—especially in an age of the climate crisis but also for consumers focused on sustainable production practices—is definitely part of the conversation for core natural products shoppers as well as the brands that serve them.
Precision fermentation is a great case in point. Whey protein can be produced but not with the impact from cow production, so water is saved, methane is not produced, all in a closed-loop fermentation tank system. Yet GMO inputs are also used in that production, and GMOs have a bad name from its initial rollout. The question is, can GMOs 2.0 be used as a force for good?
“There will be pushback from industry and there’s a lot of groups that have working groups trying to really assess what this technology means,” said Avila. “They are trying to understand what they’re using and how it’s made, and everyone can make decisions about what they’re comfortable with—not just consumers but also brand stewards.”
For more on the SupplySide West track on innovation, visit this page for details.
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