Chr Hansen has joined MISTA, a California-based start-up optimizer focusing on the development of sustainable, innovative foods. With this collaboration, Chr Hansen wants to develop further fermented plant-based solutions that help customers match this trend and help create a sustainable and resilient global food system that can feed a growing population.
When it comes to dairy alternatives, consumers are looking for experiences that provide the same health and delicious taste profile as associated with traditional dairy products. Fermented plant-based foods – an industry that is evolving rapidly – can offer excellent options. Driven by a global focus and concern for sustainable food production, the plant-based foods industry has gone from being a relative niche market to more mainstream. Today, consumers all over the world are enjoying the innovative options for a flexitarian or plant-based diet. In the past 12 months, 160 new brands of fermented plant-based foods have been launched. In the US, plant-based milk now account for more than 10% of the volume of drinking milk.
At MISTA, Chr Hansen joins world-class food players Givaudan, Danone, Ingredion and Mars, to work with a selected cohort of around 20 start-up companies. It will also collaborate with a range of service partners, venture financers, and renowned universities such as UC Davis and UC Berkeley. MISTA brings together the power and expertise of large companies operating in different segments of the value chain, and the agility and fast-paced innovation spirit of start-ups.
Co-creating solutions for a healthier planet
The MISTA premises in San Francisco house a test kitchen, pilot-scale production and laboratory facilities, as well as office and function space. Chr Hansen will invest in fermentation capability including equipment and application staff on-site to run collaborative projects and to conduct its own internal research.
“Our foray represents a bold new approach to exploring close-to-market innovation using a tailored ecosystem. It will allow us to participate in building new ideas with innovative start-ups whilst leveraging the power of large and established ingredient and end-product developers. This will accelerate the innovation, and also increase the chance of success, since all parties are working together for the same goal – ultimately co-creating solutions that address the health and wellness of both people and the planet,” says Ross Crittenden, senior director Commercial Development for Plant-based Dairy Alternatives at Chr Hansen.
Rapid prototyping of sustainable, innovative foods
MISTA offers a platform for rapid and focused innovation with an in-built path for commercialization. “The application work will be plugged into Chr Hansen’s global network of application centers to ensure efficient dissemination of learnings both ways. It will allow us to run rapid prototyping directly with potential customers in collaboration with best-in-class ingredient suppliers. Working closely with the other partners will help us to accelerate our research, and ultimately our product development within the exciting space of fermented plant-based. Chr Hansen already has several solutions in this category, but we are keen to offer even more options to our customers. We also look forward to supporting the other members’ aims of developing exciting, tasty, healthy and sustainable foods, and gaining valuable knowledge and commercialization opportunities along the way,” concludes Crittenden, who will manage Chr Hansen’s participation in MISTA.