Gen Z is Leading the Demand for Precision Fermentation
A new survey by the Hartman Group revealed that 40% of US consumers are willing to try new foods made with precision fermentation technology. The participants most responsible for this figure were Millennials and Gen Z shoppers. These consumers are currently in their teens, twenties, and thirties, and are driving new opportunities in biotechnology with their forward-thinking approach to food.
What is Precision Fermentation?
Precision fermentation uses microorganisms, such as bacteria or yeast, to produce specific compounds. Scientists genetically modify the microorganisms’ DNA to allow them to create products we need, such as whey protein. They become miniature factories for individual ingredients which would otherwise be difficult to source.
The first example of precision fermentation was when scientists modified E. coli bacteria to allow them to produce insulin in 1982. Today, we produce almost all commercially available insulin this way. Recently, the technique has found its way into the food industry.
How Can We Use Precision Fermentation in the Food Industry?
We can use precision fermentation to produce plant-based meat and dairy alternatives. Cow’s milk contains whey protein, which gives it its creamy texture and whippable, frothy properties. Without whey, it can be difficult to recreate these qualities in plant-based dairy alternatives.
Californian biotechnology company Perfect Day created an animal-free whey protein called ProFerm™ in 2016. The company uses genetically modified microflora to produce vegan whey identical to the whey protein found in milk. No animals are involved in the process, and the final product is lactose-free.
We can also use precision fermentation to produce rennet – a collection of enzymes essential to cheesemaking. Traditional rennet comes from the stomachs of calves, goats, and lambs. Precision fermentation allows us to produce it using microorganisms instead, making it suitable for vegan cheese applications.
Impossible Foods leverages precision fermentation to make its hugely popular Impossible™ Burger. The company uses yeast to produce heme – an iron-containing molecule found in meat. This animal-free heme gives alternative meat products a redder color and meatier flavor and aroma.
Why Young People Are So Willing to Adopt New Food Technology
The Hartman Group also asked participants why they said they would readily adopt precision fermentation technology. The second-biggest reason (after taste) was because it’s better for the environment. Sourcing sought-after food molecules through precision fermentation typically uses less water, energy, and space than getting them from animals.
According to Perfect Day, the company’s animal-free whey protein takes 99% less water and 97% less carbon emissions to produce than traditional dairy milk.
Prioritizing Taste and Texture in Plant-Based Foods
Precision fermentation can help plant-based food producers isolate molecules that would otherwise be hard to come by without harming animals. One of the biggest drivers for adding these molecules to dairy and meat alternatives is to improve their texture and taste. Texture plays a significant role in how we perceive flavor, so perfecting it is crucial to expanding the plant-based market.
Another way to improve the sensory experience of preparing and eating plant-based products is to add natural flavorings and aromatics. We can also rely on flavor enhancers, such as delta decalactone, which gives milk its creamy taste.
Innovate With Advanced Biotech
Innovating in the biotechnology space takes strong partnerships between producers and suppliers. Advanced Biotech works with various food and beverage companies to create exciting products made with premium flavors. Sample our plant-based flavoring range to discover flavors that complement your product. Please contact us for more information.