If we are to succeed in feeding the world’s growing population, we also need to find innovative ways to get more out of the raw materials available to us, in accordance with UN Sustainable Development Goal 12 on responsible consumption and production.
An obvious idea is to reuse the huge volumes of the residual product pulp that is created in the production of apple juice. This is the opinion of three DTU researchers, who, together with a fourth partner, are behind the start-up Bioflavours, which will make new beverages and ingredients by fermenting the pulp.
“We need to radically change our food system to make it a more circular system, where side streams become new healthy ingredients or foods instead of ending up as biogas,” says co-founder Claus Heiner Bang-Bertelsen, who is also a senior researcher at DTU Food. Fermentation is the focal point of most of his research.
Fermentation is a process in which an ingredient—such as apple pulp, i.e. the residual product that remains when juice is squeezed out of apples—is placed in tanks together with carefully selected bacteria. Under closely monitored temperature conditions, the bacteria break down the sugar in the ingredient over a few days, thereby inducing fermentation.
When the apple pulp ferments, the bacteria form flavouring agents and aromas. The four researchers behind Bioflavours can then squeeze an aromatic liquid out of the fermented pulp. They can use this liquid as the main ingredient in a slightly fizzy soft drink. Or they can process it into a sweet syrup that can add flavour and aroma to other foods and beverages.
“Our concept is a good example of how—by thinking outside the box—we can create more value and extract more ingredients from the world’s raw materials. In our small way, we can consequently help combat the big problem with waste,” says co-founder Timothy Hobley, who—in addition to being a fermentation expert and responsible for DTU Brewery—is also Associate Professor at DTU Food.