Cargill global texturizers and specialties strategic marketing lead, Yusuf Wazirzada, said that Cargill was drawn to Renmatix's Plantrose Process, which uses water, heat, and pressure to convert plant fibers -- in this case maple fiber -- into a plant-based, clean label emulsifier replacement that can replace eggs as well as mono- and di-glycerides found in many packaged food products.
"It’s a versatile technology in the sense that it allows for a variety of plant-based materials, which then can be processed and converted into more value-added products. In many cases you can use feedstocks (unprocessed and unused raw plant-based materials) that don’t currently have a significant use. As you can imagine, Cargill being one of the largest processors of agricultural food products, we could come up with a number of things we could supply to this technology," Wazirzada told FoodNavigator-USA.
As part of the joint development agreement, Cargill will contribute its food applications expertise and market access to better understand the technical and commercial potential of the Plantrose Process and its related ingredients.
Beyond egg replacement
When we first spoke with Renmatix at IFT 2019, the ingredient company was using its maple fiber branded ingredient called Nouravant as an egg replacement in cookies.
"Egg replacement in cookies is one of the earlier applications where we demonstrated the use of Nouravant. We’ve gone on to many more since," CEO of Renmatix, Mike Hamilton, told FoodNavigator-USA.
"Beyond emulsification, because the product is a powerful humectant (an ingredient used to keep products moist) it can also extend the freshness [and shelf life] of baked goods. That’s a very powerful benefit for bakeries and stores selling baked goods," added Hamilton.
Demand for clean label functional ingredients has exploded as consumers seek more natural, minimally-processed products. A research report by Charleston|Orwig from earlier this year, found that 41% of US consumers are actively seeking clean label products with the main purchase driver being health.
Therefore, a product that contains "maple fiber" on its ingredient label is likely to appeal to a growing clean label consumer audience looking for recognizable ingredients that they can link back to nature, said Hamilton.
Hamilton added that its customers are growing everyday, and that Nouravant is being used in everything from breads and croissants to flatbreads and pastas.
"It’s proving itself to be very versatile and very multi-functional," Hamilton said.
Next steps in the joint development agreement
Production of Nouravant and access to the Plantrose Process technology currently takes place at Renmatix's Georgia facility. Through its joint development partnership with global agribusiness Cargill, the opportunities to scale and apply the technology to plant-based raw materials are extensive.
Hamilton explained that while maple fiber is the company's first product to enter the marketplace, Renmatix has had success with using other feedstocks.
"We’re looking forward to bringing our technology to the joint development with Cargill’s input on what would be their preferred starting feedstock," said Hamilton.
Next steps for the two companies will be identifying and starting production at a commercial facility to begin using the Plantrose Process with a variety of plant-based raw materials.
"We prioritized a couple of feedstocks that we will be working with," said Wazirzada, adding that due to "competitive reasons" he could not share what those materials are yet.