Can we ferment our way to more food security?

If you consider fermented meals, you in all probability conjure up photographs of sauerkraut, wine, and cheese.

However this centuries-old meals processing expertise has the potential to assist scale back meals insecurity, and Saskatchewan is poised to be a world chief on this discipline.

“In Canada, we’re fortunate as a result of we’ve got a lot meals,” says Muhammed Tolbek, president of the Saskatchewan Middle for Meals Trade Growth in Saskatoon, which works with firms to create new merchandise, together with utilizing fermentation. “That is why we have to lead this motion. We will present a extra sustainable and safe meals provide chain. That is actually the important thing on this expertise.”

Fermentation expertise on a industrial scale offers the chance to develop extra nutritious meals merchandise utilizing crops and by-products which can be ample in Canada, and even to remodel what could be leftovers from meals processing, Tolbeck says.

watch | CBC’s Natascia Lipney checked out a few of Sask’s {hardware}. Firms that take a look at fermentation:

Can fermentation assist enhance meals safety?

Meals fermentation expertise is used to provide extra nutritious meals in an environmentally pleasant method. CBC’s Natascia Lipney speaks to the individuals in Saskatoon, Sask, who’re main the way in which.

Why fermentation?

Fermentation has traditionally been used to increase the shelf lifetime of meals. It primarily refers back to the transformation of microorganisms into meals, elements or merchandise with particular features.

On a industrial degree, the fermentation course of works a lot the identical, though it’s extra managed by way of the cultures concerned. Firms have targeted notably on utilizing fermentation to alter the dietary content material of meals and make them extra palatable.

A person wearing a lab coat, hairnet, and gloves examines the contents of a liquid beaker.
The Saskatchewan Meals Trade Growth Middle helps firms develop new merchandise and market them extra extensively. (Probability Lagaden/CBC)

In line with the Good Meals Institute, the meals processing business started utilizing fermentation extensively within the Nineteen Eighties. In recent times, curiosity on this expertise has elevated to such an extent that it’s thought-about one of many pillars of the “new protein revolution”, which refers back to the rising international demand for high-quality proteins and vegetable proteins which can be developed in a sustainable, moral and environmentally pleasant method.

Stephen Webb, govt director of the Institute for World Meals Safety, says progressive meals processing options, comparable to fermentation, can be essential to addressing the world’s rising meals insecurity points. On the bioengineering facility in Saskatoon, it develops supplies comparable to proteins that can be utilized within the improvement of meals and merchandise in processing facilities such because the Meals Middle.

Globally, Webb says, meals insecurity is worse now than it was three years in the past attributable to a wide range of components, together with the COVID-19 pandemic, the conflict in Ukraine, and the quickly rising world inhabitants. In November, the world Hit eight billion individualsThe United Nations estimates that the world’s inhabitants will attain 9.7 billion by 2050.

Man wearing goggles and a white lab coat over his work clothes.  The logo on the coat is
Because the world’s inhabitants continues to develop, says Stephen Webb, govt director of the Institute for World Meals Safety, we have to suppose not solely about tips on how to feed extra individuals, however in a extra nutritious method. (Probability Lagaden/CBC)

“We want to have the ability to feed the world in a extra nutritious and sustainable method with much less land, much less water and fewer assets,” says Webb.

Why Saskatchewan?

House to roughly 43 p.c of the arable land in Canada and a The booming value-added sectorSaskatchewan is especially properly positioned to take action.

“We’ve got numerous assets in Saskatchewan,” says Rajneesh Tyagi, a Saskatoon-based entrepreneur and brewing professional. “Our problem is mainly including worth to our native crops.”

There is a tall cylindrical metal tank in a large industrial building.
Proveta Vitamin works on a a lot bigger scale than lots of those that have experimented within the discipline: that is the 20,000 Liter Brewing System. (Proveta Vitamin)

For instance, many home firms now produce protein focus from pulses (crops comparable to peas and lentils), leaving the starch as a by-product. Fermentation offers the chance to make use of these by-products by turning them into nutritious merchandise, comparable to ready-to-eat, plant-based “meats” that look, style, and really feel actual, and can be utilized in a wide range of methods.

Fermentation may also assist create protein concentrates and isolates from Saskatchewan-grown grains and pulses which can be simpler for people to digest. Subsequently, your physique finally ends up getting extra from the identical quantity of meals, Tyagi says.

Certainly one of Tyagi’s firms, Proveta Vitamin, has already seen success utilizing fermentation to create an economical animal feed that does simply that.

One other Canadian firm, Algarithm, has used fermentation to create an environmentally pleasant, plant-based omega-3 oil. Now, she’s working with the Meals Middle to check new methods to make use of the oil in meals merchandise.

The subsequent organic revolution

In 2020, McKinsey and Firm, a administration consulting agency, estimated that the biomanufacturing business may develop to $4 trillion yearly globally over the following 10 to twenty years.

“It is seen as the following organic revolution or the following industrial revolution,” says Webb.

To get there, Canadian firms want extra assist to scale their manufacturing to get the objects on the cabinets at cheap costs.

A man in goggles and a white lab coat operates a large black machine with trays containing protruding small liquid reservoirs.  Another person in a lab coat is working on a computer screen next to the instrument.
Webb reveals a liquid processor on the World Institute for Meals Safety. It could possibly deal with 96 samples of liquid at a time. The institute plans to accumulate seven extra of those to satisfy the calls for of its purchasers. (Probability Lagaden/CBC)

“There are numerous organizations in Canada working on this space and after we put all these efforts collectively, there may be nonetheless not sufficient capability,” Tolbeck says. “So this can be a actually growing space. Over the following 30 years, we’ll want numerous fermentation and bioengineering analysis, incubation and commercialization for startups to develop after which commercialize that.”

The Saskatchewan Meals Trade Growth Middle is constructing an eight thousand sq. foot facility in Saskatoon to assist precisely that.

“It is a spot the place we are able to experiment and take a look at various things on a big sufficient scale to see whether or not or not it’ll work after we get to 100,000 liters,” says Ben Kelly, president of Algarithm.

Computer rendering of a gray industrial building consisting of two blocks: one is lower and more rectangular than the other, and the other is more square.  A sign on the front says
This new constructing is being constructed on the Saskatchewan Meals Trade Growth Middle constructing in Saskatoon. It is going to focus closely on fermentation expertise. (Saskatchewan Meals Trade Growth Middle)

Final 12 months, the Meals Middle additionally introduced with its companions that it might commit $1.3 million to increase its brewing and coaching program, with an emphasis on plant-based merchandise.

One other problem, Webb says, is tackling the regulatory aspect of issues.

“One of many issues that has been actually difficult to innovate in agriculture and meals is having the ability to take actually attention-grabbing technical improvements and make them influence the market,” he says.

Any new meals processing expertise in Canada is topic to strict federal laws, which some members of the business consider may inhibit innovation.

A man in a suit and tie stands in a laboratory next to a worker in a lab coat working under a fume hood and trough excreting brown sludge.
Muhammad Tolbek, head of the Saskatchewan Meals Trade Growth Middle, believes Canada is well-positioned to be a frontrunner in bettering meals safety due to fermentation expertise. (Probability Lagaden/CBC)

Tyagi additionally sees the necessity for funding – money and in any other case.

“The business may be very new, so the participation of all stakeholders is required for the speedy progress and enlargement of the sector,” he says.

Regardless of these challenges, there’s a robust sense of optimism inside the sector.

“We should be extra proactive in constructing resilience into our techniques right here at dwelling and internationally to make sure meals safety,” says Webb. “I believe innovation is the reply. I consider due to our efficiency and confirmed monitor file by way of new instruments, new applied sciences and new improvements, we are able to meet these challenges.”

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