Cold plasma for the preservation of aquatic food products: An overview

Website Link (Article by Rathod et. al. 2021)

ABSTRACT

Cold plasma (CP) is an upcoming technology implemented for the preservation of highly perishable foods, especially aquatic food products (AFPs). The high moisture content, high-quality protein with all essential amino acids and unsaturated fatty acids makes AFP more susceptible to microbial spoilage and oxidation of lipids and proteins.

Spoilage lowers the nutritive value and could generate toxic components, making it unsafe for consumption. In recent times, the rising demand for food products of aquatic origin with preserved quality and extended shelf-life has been recorded.

In addition, minimally or nonthermally processed and preserved foods are gaining great attention. CP technology has demonstrated an excellent ability to inactivate microorganisms without promoting their resistance and triggering some deteriorative enzymes, which are typical factors responsible for the spoilage of AFP.

Consequently, CP could be recommended as a minimal processing intervention for preserving the quality of AFP. This review focuses on different mechanisms of fish spoilage, that is, by microorganisms and oxidation, their inhibition via the application of CP, and the retention of quality and shelf-life extension of AFP.

CONCLUSION

The demand for safe, nutritional, and quality aquatic fish products is growing. The innovative nonthermal CP technology has been discussed for the preservation and safety of AFP.

CP has clearly demonstrated the inactivation of specific spoilage and pathogenic organisms associated mainly with spoilage of AFP, which are Enterobacteriaceae, P. fluorescens, L. monocytogenes, S. aureus, B. cereus, hydrogen sulfite-producing bacteria, lactic acid bacteria, C., and so on.

The effect was attributed to the generation of reactive species by CP, which was dependent on fed gas composition, energy applied, and the treatment interval. Despite excellent microbial inactivation, CP was found to initiate oxidation in lipids and proteins, limiting its application.

However, the oxidation effect could be controlled by specifically optimized CP conditions and usage of natural compounds having synergistic impacts. The inclusion of natural compounds reduces the deterioration induced by CP-generated reactive species. Additionally, recent applications have shown a better understanding of CP in combination with other natural compounds as “hurdle technology” for AFP with desired outcomes.

Furthermore, CP has advantages and could be coupled with other nonthermal technologies by performing a prerequisite optimization for enhanced microbial destruction and retained nutritional value.

Commercialization of next-generation biomaterials

Website Link (Article by Rachel Arthur)

The Coca-Cola Company, Changchun Meihe Science & Technology and UPM have announced the first planned commercialization of new tech to create plant-based monoethylene glycol (bMEG): which can replace traditional oil-based MEG in PET bottles.

The tech will allow the companies to efficiently convert second-generation biomass to the plant-based bMEG: a process that is not only more efficient than current bMEG production but also uses feedstock that is not a source of food. 

Ultimately, the scaled-up production of bMEG can reduce dependence on virgin oil-based packaging.

Furthermore, Coca-Cola has pledged to offer commercial quantities of the biochemical to anyone in the industry, including its competitors.

Efficient process

Co-owned and co-developed by Coca-Cola and Chinese science and tech development company Changchun Meihe, the technology is now being scaled to commercial quantities by the Finnish forest-based bioeconomy company UPM.

The technology to produce bMEG takes a sugar source and removes the step of creating ethanol as part of the conversion process to produce plant-based MEG. This means the process is simpler than incumbent processes and provides flexibility in feedstock choice. 

“The next-generation technology marks a significant step forward toward commercializing a process that is not only more efficient than current bMEG technologies but is based on feedstock that cannot be used as source of food: hardwood taken from sawmill side-streams and forest thinnings as part of sustainable forest management,” ​say the partners.

Production to start in 2023

Coca-Cola says the new tech marks ‘the most significant advancement’ in the commercial viability of bioplastics since it introduced the first-generation technology in its PlantBottle packaging in 2009.While new technologies were first validated at demonstration scale in 2017,  this is the first time it is being taken into large-scale production.

UPM is currently constructing a full-scale biorefinery: which will produce plant-based monoethylene glycol (bMEG), plant-based monopropylene glycol (bMPG), as well as lignin-based Renewable Functional Fillers (RFF) made from 100% certified hardwood taken from sawmill and other wood industry side-streams.

The biorefinery will ramp up production in 2023 with a total annual capacity of 220,000 tonnes.  The products will have a significantly improved CO2 footprint and can be integrated in existing material recovery and recycling streams while meeting product performance requirements, according to the companies.  

UPM and Coca-Cola have announced that they will offer commercial quantities of these biochemicals to anyone in the industry, including Coca-Cola’s direct competitors.

“The commercialization of this technology marks a significant milestone not only in the evolution of renewable glycol production but also more widely in the development of fossil fuel-free PET plastic,”​ says Coca-Cola.

“MEG is one of two molecules necessary to create PET, the other being terephthalic acid (PTA). Investments in the scaling of plant-based, renewable materials like bMEG support Coca-Cola’s ambition and work to reduce the use of virgin oil-based plastics in its packaging, alongside investments to increase the use of recycled content.”

Reducing virgin plastic 

Coca-Cola has set out its vision to be net zero carbon by 2050, and to use 3 million tons less of virgin plastic from oil-based sources by 2025.

One of its goals is to increase the use of recycled PET (rPET): through a combination of new recycling technologies and encouraging consumers to recycle. Improvements in packaging design and new delivery systems are other ways to reach the goal. But it also wants to create new technologies that offer a plant-based alternative to virgin material: noting that well-designed technologies that can be successfully scaled up will play a key role in achieving its goals.

“The viability of this next-generation biomaterial is a significant technological breakthrough in our ongoing efforts to reduce our use of virgin oil-based plastics, by increasing our use of recycled and renewable alternatives. It can not only help us achieve our commitments to carbon emission reduction but can also enable the entire industry to shift to a more circular economy,”​ said Nancy Quan, Chief Technical and Innovation Officer at The Coca-Cola Company. 

“It takes years of work to bring a technology from the lab to the market, reflecting our keen focus on developing and delivering sustainable packaging solutions that can bring tangible environmental benefits, once scaled, to the communities we serve.”​ 

Daniela Zahariea, Director of Technical, Innovation and Supply Chain at Coca-Cola Europe, added: “In Europe, as we work towards our goal to collect a bottle or can for every one that we sell we are also working closely in parallel with our bottlers to drive down and eliminate the use of oil-based virgin PET from our plastic bottles. We will accelerate delivery of this ambition by increasing the use of recycled content and, as we move forward, also replacing some new ‘virgin’ material that is required with renewable, bio-based sources. That is why we are investing and driving innovation to boost the supply of feedstock from renewable sources, in addition to our focus on sources derived from enhanced recycling technologies.”

The world is banking on giant carbon-sucking fans to clean our climate mess

Website Link (Article by Ivana Kottasová)

The windswept valleys surrounding the Hengill volcano in southwestern Iceland are dotted with hot springs and steam vents. Hikers from all over the world come here to witness its breath-taking scenery. Even the sheep are photogenic in the soft Nordic light.

Right in the middle of all that natural beauty sits a towering metal structure resembling four giant Lego bricks, with two rows of six whirring fans running across each one. It’s a contraption that looks truly futuristic, like something straight out of a sci-fi film.

Humans have emitted so much carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere that machines like this are being used to literally suck the gas back out, like giant vacuum cleaners, in an attempt to slow the climate crisis and prevent some of its most devastating consequences.

The Orca plant — its name derived from the Icelandic word for energy — is what is known as a “direct air carbon capture facility,” and its creator and operator, Swiss firm Climeworks, say it’s the world’s largest.Climework’s Orca project at the Hellisheiði Geothermal Power Plant in Iceland opened last month.

Dr. Edda Aradóttir is a chemical and reservoir engineer and the CEO of Carbfix.The aim of Orca is to help the world reach net zero emissions — where we remove as much greenhouse gas from the atmosphere as we emit.

Scientists say that simply cutting back on our use of fossil fuels won’t be enough to avert catastrophe; we need to also clean up some of the mess we’ve been making for hundreds of years.Orca is a depressing symbol of just how bad things have become, but equally, it could be the tech that helps humanity claw its way out of the crisis.

We, as humans, have disturbed the balance of the natural carbon cycle. So it’s our job to restore the balance,” said Edda Aradóttir, a chemical engineer and the CEO of Carbfix. “We are assisting the natural carbon cycle to find its previous balance, so for me, at least, this makes total sense — but we have to use it wisely,” she said.

It opened last month and currently removes about 10 metric tons of CO2 every day, which is roughly the the same amount of carbon emitted by 800 cars a day in the US. It’s also about the same amount of carbon 500 trees could soak up in a year.It’s a fine start, but in the grand scheme of things, its impact so far is miniscule.

Humans emit around 35 billion tons of greenhouse gas a year through the cars we drive and flights we take, the power we use to heat our homes and the food — in particular the meat — that we eat, among other activities.

All this CO2 accumulates in the in the air, where it acts like the glass of a greenhouse, trapping more heat in the atmosphere than Earth has evolved to tolerate. That’s where the technology used for Orca, called carbon capture and storage (CCS), comes in.

Carbon capture and storage is not going to be the solution to climate change,” Sandra Ósk Snæbjörnsdóttir, a geologist with the Icelandic company Carbfix, told CNN. Carbfix is the company that carries out the process to store the CO2 underground. “But it is a solution. And it’s one of the many solutions that we need to implement to be able to achieve this big goal that we have to reach.” She added: “First and foremost, we have to stop emitting CO2 and we have to stop burning fossil fuels, the main source of CO2 emissions to our atmosphere.

How the ‘magic’ happens

Process Animation

The Orca machines use chemical filters to capture the heat-trapping gas. The “fans,” or metal collectors, suck in the surrounding air and filter out the CO2 so it can be stored.

Carbon dioxide’s concentration in Earth’s atmosphere has likely not been this high at any other point in the last 3 million years, according to NASA scientists. But at levels over 410 parts per million, to actually capture a meaningful amount of CO2, a huge amount of air needs to pass through these machines.

“What is happening is that CO2 in the air is an acid molecule and inside the collectors we have alkaline. Acids and alkaline neutralize each other,” Climeworks co-CEO Christoph Gebald told CNN. “That’s the magic that happens.”

In two to four hours, the surface of the filter is almost completely saturated with CO2 molecules — as if there are “no parking slots left,” as Gebald puts it. “Then we stop the airflow and we heat the internal structure to roughly 100 degrees Celsius, and at that temperature, the CO2 molecules are released again from the surface, they jump off back to the gas phase and we suck it out.” Because of the high temperature that is needed for the process, the Orca plant requires a lot of energy. That’s a problem that’s easily solved in Iceland, where green geothermal power is abundant. But it could become a challenge to scale globally.

Emissions crisis

The latest state-of-the-science report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) showed that the world needs to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half over the next decade and achieve net zero by 2050 to have any chance of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.The higher temperatures rise beyond 1.5 degrees, the more the world will experience an increase in extreme weather events — both in strength and frequency — like droughts, hurricanes, floods and heatwaves.

Atmospheric concentrations of CO₂

The amount of CO₂ in the atmosphere has fluctuated over time, but human activity since the Industrial Revolution has pushed levels to unprecedented highs.

CCS technology sounds like the perfect solution, but it remains highly controversial, and not just because of the amount of energy it needs. Its critics say the world should be aiming for zero emissions, not net zero. But scientific consensus is pretty clear: some level of carbon capture will soon become necessary. The IPCC estimated that even if emissions decline dramatically, to keep temperature increases below 2 degrees will require the removal of between 10 billion and 20 billion tonnes of CO2 every year until 2100.

I don’t think carbon capture is a silver bullet, because there is no silver bullet,” said Nadine Mustafa, a researcher that specializes in carbon capture at the department of chemical engineering at Imperial College London, and is not involved with Orca. “It’s not that we are going to fix everything by using renewables, or that we’re going to use carbon capture and storage and we’re going to fix everything with that. We’re going to need everything, especially because we’re already behind on our goals.”

The oil and gas link

Opponents of CCS argue the technology is simply another way for the fossil fuel industry to delay its inevitable demise. While they are not involved in the Orca plant, fossil fuel giants dominate the sector. According to a database complied by the Global CCS Institute, a pro-CCS think tank, an overwhelming majority of the world’s 89 CCS projects that are currently in operation, being built or in advanced stages of development are operated by oil, gas and coal companies.

Oil companies have had and used the technology to capture carbon for decades, but they haven’t exactly done it to reduce emissions — ironically, their motivation has been to extract even more oil. That’s because the CO2 they remove can be re-injected into oil fields that are nearly depleted, and help squeeze out 30-60% more oil than with normal methods.

The process is known as “enhanced oil recovery” and it is one of the main reasons why CCS remains controversial. Fossil fuel companies are also investing in the newer carbon capture tech that removes CO2 from the air — like Orca’s machines do — so they can argue they are “offsetting” the emissions that they can’t capture in their usual processes. It’s one way to delay fossil fuels’ inevitable demise as the world transitions to renewable energy sources.

There is another way to look at it.Fossil fuel companies have the big bucks to invest in this expensive tech, and considering fossil fuels are by far the main driver of climate change, it can be argued that they have a responsibility to foot the bill for what could be the biggest environmental disaster clean-up in human history.

The global fossil fuel industry is worth trillions of dollars. In 2019, the last year before the pandemic, publicly listed fossil fuel companies raked in $250 billion in profits, according to data compiled for CNN by Refinitiv. That figure doesn’t include Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company, which was not publicly listed until December 2019. On its own, the company made $88 billion that year.

This is a group who could transition to providing this service to society at large,” said Graeme Sweeney, chairman of the Zero Emissions Platform (ZEP), which is one of the more powerful advocates for CCS in Europe. The group acts as an advisor to the European Commission, from which it also receives part of its funding, and comprises research groups, the European Trade Union Confederation, as well as many of the world’s biggest oil companies, including Shell, Total, Equinor, ExxonMobil and BP.

The way Sweeney sees it, providing this tech could even be a chance for the fossil fuel industry to begin to atone for the climate crisis. “It would be, in a sense, odd, if that was not the contribution that they made,” said Sweeney, who previously worked for Shell for three decades.Asked whether CCS should be used to allow more fossil fuel production in the future — something climate activists worry about — Sweeney said: “If we regulate this appropriately, then it will produce an outcome which is compatible with net zero in 2050 … what’s the problem?

One remaining risk in this technology is the impact that storing the carbon may have on the Earth, or at least its immediate environment. In its special report on carbon capture and storage, the IPCC said that by far the biggest risk comes from potential leaks. A sudden and large release of CO2 would be extremely dangerous.

In the air, a CO2 concentration of around 10% is deadly, but even much lower levels can cause health issues. It’s a massive risk to take. But the idea of using deep sea storage is not new and it has been used for some time.

At Sleipner, a gas field in Norway, CO2 has been injected underground since 1996. The site has been monitored closely, and apart from some issues during the first year, it has not shown any problems in its 25 years running.

Snæbjörnsdóttir, who heads the CO2 mineral storage at Carbfix for Orca, said the mineralization process they use in Iceland eliminates the risk of leaks. And the basalt — which is volcanic rock — around the plant makes for an ideal geological storage.

These rocks are very permeable, so they are kind of like a sponge, and you have a lot of fractures for the CO2-charged fluid to flow through, so it mineralizes quite rapidly,” Snæbjörnsdóttir said.Standing next to the injection site, Snæbjörnsdóttir grabbed a piece of crystallized calcium carbonate, known here as the Icelandic spar, and held it against the sunlight. “This is nature’s way of turning CO2 into stone, in its most beautiful way,” she said as tiny reflections of light from the rock danced on the walls around her.

ADM eyes eight emerging trends

Website Link (Article by Eric Schroeder)

Plant-based lifestyles, clean and transparent sourcing, and sustainable goodness are among the eight trends ADM sees fueling current and future global growth.

Drawing on research from its Outside Voice consumer insights platform, the company’s top trends for 2022 point the way for ADM’s innovation, renovation and development platforms, the company said. Many of the trends are being shaped by the coronavirus pandemic that has lingered for the past 18 months.

Consumers today continue to navigate a tumultuous environment that has uprooted every aspect of their lives,” said Brad Schwan, vice president of category marketing at ADM. “This has led forward-thinking brands to develop new solutions purpose-built to help consumers establish a sense of normality for themselves, their families and their pets. We’re seeing everything from foods, feeds and beverages that promote gut health to plant-based meat and dairy alternatives to biodegradable packaging.”

1. Balanced approach to diet and lifestyle

Heading into the new year ADM said it expects consumers to be more proactive about supporting their mind and body through a balanced approach to diet and lifestyle. The coronavirus pandemic has placed renewed interest on mental well-being, and ADM said it expects more consumers to seek effective ways to cope with stress and anxiety. Thirty-seven percent of global consumers expect the snacks they eat to improve their mental well-being, according to ADM’s Outside Voice research.

2. Plant-based lifestyles

Another continuing trend is the shift toward plant-based lifestyles. ADM’s research shows a flexitarian approach to eating has become mainstream as consumers look to functional, wholesome, plant-based nutrition to support healthy, environmentally friendlier lifestyles. Alternative proteins are likely to account for 11% of the total protein market in 2035, ADM said, driven primarily by COVID-19, which has accelerated interest in plant-based as a health-forward alternative for consumers who are paying attention to their body’s nutritional needs.

3. Gut health and overall well-being

Third, consumers are seeking foods, beverages and supplements that support gut health and overall well-being. As a result, ADM said awareness of the microbiome as central to wellness has grown over time. Data from ADM Outside Voice indicates that 58% of global consumers are aware of the potential benefits that bacteria in the digestive system can have on their overall health.

4. Clean Label

Clean label has been trending for several years and ADM said it expects clean and transparent sourcing to remain a key trend heading into 2022. Most recently, consumers have used the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to place an increased emphasis on learning where their food comes from and trying to ensure the health and safety of themselves, their families, their pets and their communities. ADM said 58% of global consumers say they will be more attentive to locality claims as a result of COVID-19.

5. Better Pet Food

The humanization of pets has taken on greater significance and will continue to shape trends next year, ADM said. In fact, many consumers are transposing their purchasing values and preferences onto their pets. ADM Outside Voice found that 30% of global pet owners spent a significant amount of time researching the best food options in the last year.

6. Precise and responsible animal feeding

Precise and responsible animal feeding, and the interconnectedness of the animal product supply chain is another trend top of mind for today’s consumers, according to ADM. ADM said companies are taking steps to provide digital documentation explaining how animals are raised, particularly related to its consumption of antibiotics and/or growth hormones. Nearly half (49%) of consumers are willing to pay a premium for products with high quality assurances and verifiable safety standards, ADM noted.

7. Sustainable goodness

A seventh emerging trend is sustainable goodness. With nearly half of global consumers now more attentive to sustainability claims there has been a surge in demand for ethical production and sustainable sourcing practices — such as regenerative agriculture and carbon negative production to protect the food supply of the future, ADM said. Brands are responding by taking positions on environmental matters, aiming to reflect their commitments to increasing the sustainability of their production and distribution systems.

8. Advanced renewables and biosolutions

Finally, the importance of advanced renewables and biosolutions is coming to the forefront. ADM noted research showing 38% of global consumers are now willing to pay more for products made with sustainable materials. Additionally, conscientious consumers are paying close attention to seeking food, personal care and home care products that support the needs of their families, the environment and their local communities.

The City of Lancaster Approves 2.8 Million Square Foot High-Tech Sustainable Glass Farm

Website Link (Article by City of Lancaster)

The City of Lancaster is excited to announce that Bluehouse Greenhouse, Inc. (BHGH) is coming to the City to build a 62-acre greenhouse production facility that uses leading-edge technology to sustainably grow fruits and vegetables.

The BHGH facility will use an advanced closed loop sustainable ecosystem design to create the optimal environment for plant life, increasing quality, production, and consistency,” Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris said. “This is the future of farming, and we are thrilled that Lancaster will help to foster this unique and critically needed agriculture technology.”

Greenhouse agriculture is a commercial and sustainable method of farming that has taken years of science, data, and optimization to reach its current stage. The technology was started by the Dutch after World War II, perfected over time, and adapted around the world as a better way to grow fresh fruits and vegetables. The enclosed glass and steel, climate-controlled greenhouses create the optimal growing climate for plants to thrive.

Our greenhouses will combine traditional agriculture practices with advanced technologies to grow the best tasting, highest quality produce,” said Ari Kashani, Founder of BHGH. “We are advancing agriculture to the new era; a more sustainable one. Our controlled greenhouses will produce 3,000% more yield per acre than a traditional farm, will use 90% less water, require 90% less human handling and will be free from any herbicides.”

As an example of the sustainability of greenhouse farming, a standard head of lettuce grown in the field consumes about 28 gallons of water from seed to harvest. In a greenhouse, the consumption drops to less than 2 gallons. The 62-acre BHGH Flagship facility will produce over 50 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables annually to be distributed to local and regional markets.

BHGH has worked closely with the City’s Planning Division to ensure that Lancaster’s standards for building efficient and sustainable structures were met. “The project will bring hundreds of new construction jobs to the City, as well as over 200 permanent skilled jobs,” said Ari Kashani.

Innovation, technology, sustainability, and productivity drive the City’s long-term success for supporting forward-thinking industries and has earned the city a third time win as Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation’s ‘Most Business-Friendly City.’ With an abundant source of natural light, dry manageable climates, excellent transportation linkages, and a strong, supportive local community, Lancaster is the ideal location to ensure highly productive and profitable operations. Lancaster was also strategically chosen for its proximity to a dense hyper-local population with over 24 million residents in Southern California alone.”

Today, over 60% of vine crops consumed in the United States are imported from other countries. “There’s an increasing need to replace imports with domestically grown produce,” said Kashani. California is one of the largest agricultural states in the country but increasingly faces climate and water challenges. “For agriculture to remain a dominant industry, farming practices must leverage today’s technological advances. With the future of field farming becoming ever more uncertain, greenhouse agriculture is becoming more of a necessity,” said Kashani.

This marks the beginning of an important movement that can become a model for the entire nation to build secure and self-sufficient controlled agricultural environments,” Parris said. “It’s a whole new, more efficient and sustainable way to cultivate, produce, and feed our country.”

Antelope Valley Engineering, a local design and engineering firm with deep roots in the Antelope Valley, is leading the master planning and engineering effort for this intricate agro-park development. The facility is slated to break ground in Winter 2021/2022 and plans to be in production with fruits and vegetables on the market in late Winter 2022.

About Bluehouse Greenhouse

Bluehouse Greenhouse is an ag-tech company focused on the development and operations of commercial scale, high-tech greenhouses, and energy centers to support the growing demand for high quality, sustainable and traceable fresh produce.

We are the pre-eminent supplier of high-quality, greenhouse-grown fruits and vegetables to our leading distribution partners. We provide consistent, reliable, and traceable produce year-round through the highest food safety and service levels to strengthen U.S. production and achieve food independence in a sustainable, environmentally focused way.

Our Flagship Facility will be a platform to showcase a larger plan to move a significant portion of the produce market to controlled and sustainable environments. The Company has a unique vision for the future of agriculture real-estate and is working with the world’s leading innovators and engineers on curating the most innovative Food + Energy production and distribution facility on the West Coast.

With diminishing natural resources, increasing production costs, a shortage of labor, and an increase in demand on food safety regulations, Bluehouse Greenhouse recognizes the current challenges faced by farmers and agricultural landowners alike. Our unique approach combines the values of traditional agriculture real estate + the security of today’s cutting-edge, innovative, and advanced controlled farming practices to provide our stakeholders with sustainable, high-yielding ag-tech Investments.

Bovine and ovine meat co-products valorisation opportunities: A systematic literature review

Website Link (Journal by Shirsath et. al. 2021)

Highlights

  • Meat co-products can be a valuable source of biomass.
  • They can be used to produce food, feed, fibre, fuel and fertilizer.
  • They also have many high value applications, e.g. bio-medical and oleo-chemical.
  • Valorisation will require changes to industry operational and business practices.
  • The industry can address sustainability challenges through bioeconomy principles.

Abstract

Background

Everyday operations in the red meat industry generate large quantities of offal and meat co-products. These traditionally are not valued as highly as prime cuts of meat, and can represent a threat to the environment and human health, if not disposed of or processed properly.

In this way, they can represent a cost rather than a potential income stream. A requirement to sustainably feed a growing global population, and to find renewable bio-based alternatives to fossil-derived food, feed, materials and energy, provide new valorisation opportunities for such biomass.

Scope and approach

To identify such opportunities, a systematic literature review was undertaken, considering edible and inedible offal and co-products as raw materials. The initial search of academic databases identified 11,058 papers of potential relevance.

Following removal of duplicates, out of topic articles, articles for which a full-text was not available and other quality related factors, 23 review papers and 94 full research papers remained for analysis.

Key findings and conclusions

The results highlight the large variety of potential products that can be produced from meat co-products and offal, including applications in food and human nutrition, pharmaceuticals, biomedical, oleo-chemical, animal feed, pet-food and fertilizer.

Capitalising on these opportunities is likely to require demonstration and industrial-scale development, and changes to operational as well as current business practices within the industry.

However, the creation of a circular bio-economy model with positive economic, environmental, and social impacts will increasingly be required to enable the industry to address challenges relating to sustainability.

What does the future hold for advanced recycling?

Website Link (Article by Hannah Cole)

A recent report from RaboResearch suggests that the advanced recycling industry continues to expand, with a high volume of collaborations and projects being announced in 2021, and new players emerging in regions including East Asia. However, criticisms of advanced recycling are also mounting, impacting the outlook of some of the industry’s biggest companies.

In March, RaboResearch reported that there could be 140 advanced recycling plants worldwide, with a total capacity of three to four million metric tonnes, by 2025. The group’s new report, released in September, draws on its earlier predictions for the advanced recycling industry and gives some idea of how this growth may be achieved.

RaboResearch identifies a number of advanced recycling projects that have been announced in the last six months, focused on testing or rolling out new technology, securing feedstock, and investing in infrastructure solutions. This includes intentions to build more than 70 additional plants.

Announcements from companies already involved in the industry include Brightmark’s plans to put US$680 million into a plastic-to-fuel plant to treat plastic waste and PureCycle Technologies’ proposed investment of US$440 million to build a cluster location in the USA. Notably, these investments are focused on North America, a key market for advanced recycling.

Another significant announcement is TRACKCYCLE, a blockchain-enabled traceability solution for hard-to-replace plastics, supported by CirculorTotal EnergiesRecycling Technologies, and Innovate UK. The TRACKCYCLE solution is aimed at ensuring compliance with manufacturing standards at every stage of the advanced recycling process. RaboResearch adds that this announcement addresses a criticism of the industry: lack of traceability in the value chain.

Showing interest from elsewhere in the value chain, oil companies are reportedly becoming key investors in advanced recycling. Shell announced the acquisition of a 21.5% equity share in the technology provider BlueAlp, a joint venture that will potentially involve conversion units being built in the Netherlands and Singapore. Meanwhile, BP has reached a memorandum of understanding with Brightmark to explore opportunities for plants in Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium.

According to the report, packaging convertors and feedstock suppliers are the most active parties across the value chain in speeding up the rollout of advanced recycling. RaboResearch claims this interest has grown since its last report and is likely to continue expanding. Convertors and suppliers apparently gain valuable experience from partnerships with the advanced recycling industry, as well as strategic access to chemically recycled feedstock that enables companies to meet escalating recycled content targets.

Some of the major partnerships announced by convertors and suppliers include Sealed Air’s US$5 million investment in the Closed Loop Circular Plastics Fund and two supply agreements from Berry Global, which is seeking to secure chemically recycled PP.

2021 has also seen the rise of East Asia-based companies becoming more active in the advanced recycling industry. The South Korean company SK Geo Centric has set the target of becoming the world’s largest urban oil field using plastic waste and, as part of its commitment to this goal, has made significant investments in Loop Industries, Brightmark, and PureCycle Technologies. Other companies emerging in this market include Mitsui and Kumho Petrochemical, both seeking to establish advanced recycling plants in the region.

While RaboResearch implies that these investments show increasing interest in developing advanced recycling into a large-scale and commercially viable industry, there are still many practical, financial, and economic challenges going forward.

This includes criticism from NGOs and media outlets, which have argued that the technology is still unproven, too costly and has a worse-than-advertised environmental impact, while planned investments have faced ongoing delays. Critics also claim that the technology is a greenwashing tool for companies to avoid other waste management solutions that have drawn more widespread negative attention.

Some of the biggest criticisms levied at the advanced recycling industry have come from Hindenburg Research. In one report, the research group lambasted PureCycle’s approach to funding, claiming it had not yet generated any revenue despite garnering large investments, and suggested that the company was seeking to scale up some of its advanced recycling technologies despite safety concerns being identified at the laboratory level.

In another report published in 2020, Hindenburg Research critiqued Loop Industries for similar issues with funding and revenue, and published comments from previous employees of the company that implied its technology for breaking down PET into its base chemicals to produce virgin-quality resin was “impossible”. As noted by RaboResearch, both reports resulted in significant fluctuations in the companies’ share prices – with PureCycle’s dropping by 40% on the day Hindenburgh Research’s report was published. PureCycle is also facing a class action lawsuit from investors – the results of which may have consequences for the entire industry – at the time of RaboResearch’s report.

However, even for some of the most criticised players in the industry, growth continues. As suggested by RaboResearch, the number of partnerships and investments announced in 2021 appears to show that collaboration will be key to continuing developments in the advanced recycling industry. Going forward, it is likely that companies will need to consolidate a more trustworthy image in order to attract further investments.

How Kingdom Supercultures is Using AI to Create a New Generation of Novel Ingredients

Website Link (Article by Michael Wolf)

Last week, Kingdom Supercultures, a company that assembles new novel combinations of naturally-occurring microbes into a new class of ingredients called supercultures, announced a $25 million funding round. The new funding round comes after a $3.5 million round the company raised in 2020.

Unlike many computational biology startups that have emerged in recent years, Kingdom doesn’t use precision fermentation technology or genetic engineering to build its new ingredient building blocks. Instead, the company is applying artificial intelligence and statistical analysis to analyze a massive database of existing cultures to discover new and interesting potential microbial combinations that provide new functionality, flavors, and more.

What we’re building is really trying to recapitulate what we already find in nature,” said Ravi Sheth, who sat down for the latest episode of The Spoon podcast with cofounder Kendall Dabaghi.

To do that, Kingdom has assembled what the company claims is the world’s largest biobank of cultures in the world. The goal, according to Sheth, is to create a much faster path to discovery than traditional microbiology.

It’s not dissimilar from a farmer cultivating different crops and choosing the best ones and putting them in the right places in the field and growing them and delivering them,” said Sheth. “In a very similar manner, we’re looking to nature embracing and learning from everything that natural biology has to offer. And we’re applying cutting edge kind of approaches in science and technology and computation, to then select them intentionally, really accelerate this process that we’ve already been able to do as a society.”

In a way, the company’s fusion of advanced computational techniques with culture development is largely a product of the two founders’ backgrounds. Dabaghi co-founded a cybersecurity firm in the early 2010s which used advanced computational technology to scan websites for security vulnerabilities. Sheth was on a more traditional microbiology academic track, pursuing his Ph.D. with aspirations to become a professor. However, the two met at Columbia University and, after working on different research projects in the area of microbiome, started to discuss ways to work together.

I knew that I very much wanted to try to build a skill set that was at the intersection of both computation and microbiology,” said Dabaghi. “Which I think is reflected also in Ravi’s background and the way that we think as a company, which is that we don’t want to repeat a lot of the manual microbiology approaches that have been that have been like the primary focus of industry for the last like 50 years, but instead to use all of these new advances in computation, artificial intelligence, different statistical approaches to basically then be able to scan through all these microbes in different potential combinations and a much more efficient manner.”

You can hear my full conversation with the cofounders of Kingdom Supercultures on the latest episode of The Spoon podcast. Link

How packaging influences shopper’s perception of health

Website Link (Article by Nikki Hancocks)

New research provides insights into which elements of packaging have the biggest impact on the consumer’s perception of product healthiness, and how the demographics of the consumer will impact these perceptions.

Packaging plays a key role in impulse purchases and a key issue for companies developing functional foods is to be able to use the short purchasing decision situation to show the customer the benefits of the product, including its health benefits. Assessing the impact on health is a particularly difficult task for the consumer.

Previous research tells us consumers tend to use extrinsic characteristics​ as an indicator of product quality as well as perceived healthiness​ and they have to rely on these factors in a shopping environment. 

The aim of the current research, from the Hungarian University of Agriculture and Life Sciences, therefore was to examine which extrinsic features – shape, colour, health claims, ingredient claims, and domestic origin – result in a product that most plausibly shows the consumer that it has a beneficial impact on health. 

The team also aimed to assess the differences between consumer groups in terms of their perception of health impacts. 

Claims, colours and shape

The data collection methodology was an online consumer survey, which yielded 633 respondents via the university’s social media interface, between November and December 2020. 

Using images of a ready-to-drink smoothie product, respondents were shown two variations of the packaging, from which they could choose one that they felt looked most healthy. A total of 16 combinations were shown.

The team found that the claim “26 g protein per portion” increased the degree of credibility by 1.3 times, and the claim “rich in vitamin C” by 1.6 times, and the claim “with natural ingredients” doubled it compared to not displaying such a claim.Not all examined claims showed a significant effect – the use of ingredient claims makes the health effect more credible than health claims. Whereas the applied nutritional claim (“Contains no added sugar”) contributed to a more authentic demonstrations of the health benefits of the product, the effect of the examined health claim was not significant. When displaying this nutritional claim on the packaging, consumers were 1.7 times more likely to consider it beneficial to health.

Examining shape, the team concluded that using a column shape is the most advantageous, while there is no significant difference between the assessment of the health effect of the round and humanoid shape.

Their results indicate that if the manufacturer uses the column shape instead of the humanoid shape (hourglass type figure), consumers are 1.4 times more likely to assess the product as beneficial to their health.

Their results also suggests that if the manufacturer uses the colour white-blue instead of white-red as the emphasised colour of the packaging, it is four times as likely that the consumer will consider the product to be beneficial to their health.

They also found the consumer is nearly twice as likely to assess a white-green-packaged functional smoothie to be beneficial to health compared to a white-red one.

Results indicated a statement of domestic origin makes the health benefits of a product more credible. A functional smoothie with an indication of domestic origin on the packaging was nearly twice as likely to be perceived by the consumer as beneficial to health than a product without such an indication.

Based on the results, the product combination considered to be the healthiest was the one that was organic, white-blue in colour, included the statement “with natural ingredients”, an indication of domestic origin, a nutritional claim, and was square shaped.

Consumer demographics

The gender of the respondent influenced the assessment for two of the six attributes. Women assessed the health impact even more credible than men if column packaging was used instead of humanoid, and women also ascribed greater importance to the statements “Rich in vitamin C” and “With natural ingredients”. 

Respondents under the age of 36 were more likely to believe the health benefits of a smoothie containing either a nutritional claim or a health claim, than were the older age group.

Education played an important role in the case of two ingredient claims and packaging shape. Respondents with a higher education judged the claims “With natural ingredients” and “26 g protein per portion” more useful when assessing the impact on health, compared to those with a lower education.

On the other hand, respondents with a higher education were less likely to believe that a product with a round shape packaging was beneficial to health compared to humanoid shaped packaging.

Consumers with a higher general health interest were less likely to believe that an organic product was beneficial to health. Furthermore, those with a higher food involvement level were more likely to consider an organic functional smoothie beneficial to their health, compared to the less involved.

Those with a higher general health interest also assessed the shape differently: they considered a humanoid shape less credible than a product with a round shape.

The authors conclude: “Consumers are most likely to believe that product is beneficial to their health if it is primarily white and blue, organic and contains an ingredient claim. These are followed to a lesser extent by the indication of domestic origin and the nutritional claim, and least influenced by the form of the packaging. 

“However, we found that in the perception of health effect even the shape that resembled the humanoid shape differed significantly from the columnar shape. In addition, we consider it an important part of our results to point out that while health claims do not significantly affect the credibility of the health effect, nutritional claims do. The smoothie with the simplest packaging was the least likely to be perceived by respondents as having health benefits. This means that consumers were least likely to believe that the packaging was beneficial to health if it was red-white, not organic, did not contain any ingredient claims or health claims, did not have a domestic origin label and was angular in shape.

“In the functional food market, a significant proportion of products are withdrawn by companies shortly after launch. The results of our research may help manufacturers to create and present packaging in a combination that consumers are more likely to believe has positive health benefits. 

“Although our research results have shown which features contribute the most to making the consumer believe that a product has a beneficial effect on health, the question arises whether the combined use of so much information would be good corporate practice. It is possible that packaging with much less information more effectively presents the healthiness of the product to the consumer. Further research may aim to gauge how much information a manufacturer should use on the packaging to convey a sufficiently credible effect on health to the consumer.”

The authors note that a big advantage of online sampling is time- and cost-effectiveness but it also involves drawbacks, such as lower response rate or non-representative samples. They also note that the distribution of the respondents in this research was biased in several respects, such as the respondents’ education and gender.

Source: ​ “I Believe It Is Healthy—Impact of Extrinsic Product Attributes in Demonstrating Healthiness of Functional Food Products” (2021)​

How to avoid the greenwashing trap

Website Link (Article by Oliver Morrison)

New reviews on misleading claims in early 2022 will pressure companies to provide concrete evidence of their sustainability credentials in an increasingly green-focused and consumer-led market. What does this new regulation mean for brands? Caroline Greenwell, Partner at Charles Russell Speechlys, a law firm, weighs in.

With more shoppers and investors than ever considering the environmental impact of food and beverage products, authorities are upping the ante against potentially misleading environmental claims from businesses. The UK’s Environment Agency has announced a project to standardise metrics to measure the environmental performance of the food and drink sector. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority also recently published a ‘Green Claims Code’ to help companies ensure their environmental claims do not deceive their customers.

But a shortage of guidance is currently one of the biggest challenges for food and drink producers at the moment, believes Caroline Greenwell, Partner at Charles Russell Speechlys, a law firm. ‘At the moment it’s a case of watching this space and working with the existing guidance’. Caroline Greenwell, Partner at Charles Russell Speechlys.

“We welcome the work the Environment Agency is currently doing to try to standardise metrics for environmental performance in the food and drinks sector,” ​she told FoodNavigator. “It is hoped this will help genuinely encourage eco-friendly firms to publicise their green credentials and incentivise other firms towards greener manufacturing processes. Further international collaboration may come as a result of the upcoming COP26 summit in Glasgow. But at the moment it’s a case of watching this space and working with the existing guidance.” 

The current guidance is very much in its infancy, with greenwashing only recently being taken seriously by the regulators, she added. “Our expectation is that the guidance and rules will become more detailed over time.”​The CMA’s code, for example, was published following extensive consultation​​ with businesses. Nestle strongly welcomed the guidance. But it wants further direction on what is meant by “implicit” versus “explicit” environmental claims. “This concept remains vague and its scope is unclear, which would make it difficult for businesses to identify and address,” ​ it said, asking: “Could a product that depicts the natural world or animals be considered implicitly indicating environmental credentials?”

According to Greenwell, this question touches on a very important point: that the guidance is very nuanced. Brands are understandably anxious about what might constitute implicit environmental claims which could inadvertently come under criticism, she told us. “Our view is that producers should always err on the side of caution and consider what impression a consumer could take from an image or other depiction in designing their marketing materials. The CMA Green Code makes clear that this includes claims in advertising, marketing material, branding (including business and trading names), on packaging or in other information provided to consumers.”

Caution pays 

Producers should also now be cautious of using broad terms like “environmentally friendly”, “eco” or “sustainable”. This is where many companies are falling foul of the rules and the CMA have reinforced this message in their current guidance.

“Broader, more general or absolute claims are much more likely to be inaccurate and to mislead,”​ warned Greenwell. “Terms like ‘green’, ‘sustainable’ or ‘eco-friendly,’ especially if used without explanation, are likely to be seen as suggesting that a product, service, process, brand or business as a whole has a positive environmental impact, or at least no adverse impact. Unless a business can prove that, it risks falling short of its legal obligations.”

The ASA has published some principles which are helpful in this area and which food and drink producers should be aware of. They should:

  • explain the basis of environmental claims and qualify claims where necessary;
  • ensure the meaning of the terms they use are clear to consumers;
  • hold robust evidence for claims and comparisons;
  • use a ‘cradle to grave’ assessment when considering a product or service’s environmental impact and base claims on the full lifecycle impact, or otherwise explain clearly the lifecycle limits of the claim; and
  • not mislead consumers about the environmental benefit of a product or service

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) have also compiled a list of principles, which are broadly similar to the ASA list. Claims must:

  • be truthful and accurate;
  • be clear and unambiguous;
  • not omit or hide important information;
  • compare goods or services in a fair and meaningful way;
  • consider the full life cycle of the product; and
  • be substantiated.

Why a vacuum of guidance means firms risk falling foul of the rules 

One area where the rules will become more detailed over time concerns carbon neutral claims. For example, it might be confusing to consumers if they see a ‘carbon neutral’ label on a product that might have achieved this via offsetting, a practice which many don’t believe is truly transparent.

Consumers might therefore think a product is better on these grounds without having the appreciation that another company might be committed to a slower but more robust carbon-reduction strategy without offsetting.

Greenwell recommends producers should refer back to the principles as outlined by the CMA and ASA, but admitted we are in ‘something of a vacuum of guidance, particularly of a ‘uniform and global nature’.

For example, how easy it is to make truly carbon neutral claims after considering the whole lifecycle of a product? The likelihood is those who make such claims – similar to generic claims such as ‘environmentally friendly’ – may well find themselves in hot water with any applicable regulator, Greenwell warned. “We sympathise with businesses at the moment who are having to deal with this complex area without detailed guidance covering every scenario. Adherence to the core principles and the exercise of a conservative approach towards claims while this situation subsists should ensure that companies don’t inadvertently fall foul out of the rules.”

Another challenge for food and drinks producers is complying with the rules in multiple jurisdictions, particularly as there aren’t any internationally agreed standards. “Some countries such as the UK and the US are more active in this space than others, but globally such regulations are very much in their infancy,”​ Greenwell observed. “Producers will therefore have to keep on top of the evolving regulatory landscape in multiple jurisdictions to ensure they don’t fall foul of any future regulations.”

An example of a food producer falling foul of the regulators in the UK is meal kit subscription service Gousto. The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) last year found it had made false claims about its packaging on a number of blog posts in which they claimed its Eco Chill Box was “100% plastic fee and recyclable”.

This case was particularly interesting, Greenwell noted, because it concerned blog posts as opposed to branding and packaging. “So we would urge businesses to pay as much attention to their social media marketing as their more traditional marketing collateral.”

Gousto has since looked to pioneer eco-labelling to help customers to make more environmentally conscious dinner choices​.  

The end of greenwashing? Or more opportunities for some firms to deceive customers? 

Greenwell further cautioned that ‘genuinely eco-friendly firms’ are ‘probably’ going to struggle to get the recognition they deserve given the scepticism that is emerging of brands’ green claims as a result of greenwashing.

“Ultimately the focus is on weeding out those who are presenting misleading claims, rather than seeking to validate the claims of those who are genuinely accurate,”​ she said. “One would hope that with enough reporting and calling out of the misleading claims, consumers will be in a position to make their own, informed choices and those eco-friendly companies will be rewarded for their genuine environmental commitment through consumer loyalty and increased revenue.”