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New ideas and new possibilities with New Food

With a focus on collaboration, Tetra Pak is championing New Food technologies to combat food insecurity. Pooling resources with global networks to craft comprehensive solutions. 

Imagine the unseen forces of organisms and cells, invisible to the naked eye, stepping up to tackle some of humanity’s most pressing issues. 

In this case, food insecurity. 

New methods such as biomass and precision fermentation, or cultivated meat, represent a ground-breaking approach with vast potential to feed a growing global population while conserving precious natural resources. 

At Tetra Pak, these innovative New Food processes are the next frontier in the company’s promise to protect what’s good: food, people and the planet. 

Through collaborative efforts with an extensive international network spanning public, private, and academic spheres, Tetra Pak is helping the industry reach the frontiers of New Food innovation. 

The company is pooling resources to confront present-day challenges head-on, crafting comprehensive solutions that span from inception to market, ensuring the seamless introduction of pioneering products. 

Ida Svensson, director Portfolio and Capabilities for Tetra Pak, said the challenges associated with food insecurity are likely to increase if new technologies and methods aren’t adopted and introduced globally. 

“At Tetra Pak, our purpose is to make food safe and available everywhere. But we, with many others, are seeing that the food systems we have in place today are not sustainable,” she said. 

“We already have many people who are undernourished or without proper access to food. 

“If we look towards the future, the challenge increases. 

“For example, we predict that by 2050 the world population will be 10 billion people and in order to feed that population we need to produce at least 50 per cent more food globally than what we are now.” 

The rise of New Food, such as precision and biomass fermentations processes, or even cultivated meat, are becoming increasingly popular solutions to address this growing issue. 

“Adding to this, it’s unlikely more land will be used for the production of food either, because we already use approximately 50 per cent of the available land for agriculture,”
said Svensson. 

“If you also consider climate change, it’s more likely that viable land will decline, than the opposite. 

“If you combine this with the increasing population, you see that we need new ways to produce food if we are to successfully feed the world’s population. 

“And that is a challenge no one can solve alone, collaboration is critical.” 

Svensson said that while Tetra Pak had built a strong identity around its packaging solutions, it is the company’s world-leading, but less recognised processing business that will drive the development of new food technologies. 

“The fact is Tetra Pak is a big player with deep and broad knowledge in food processing,” she said. 

“We also do extensive research into emerging technologies. A handful of years ago my colleagues identified exciting technologies with high potential – these were biomass fermentation and precision fermentation technologies, which we today include when we talk about New Food. 

“While fermentation has been used for thousands of years, what’s new is that you combine it with the bioreactor that has been used in pharmaceuticals. 

“We take advanced technology from the pharmaceutical industry in the form of a bioreactor, and we combine it with classic fermentation technology.”

Svensson said since she started to work in the new food space, she has seen firsthand the growing popularity of the technology on a global scale, something which she said was an exciting prospect. 

“If you look at the United States, President Biden has announced more investment into biotechnology, the Danish and Norwegian governments have done it too. This is showing the rest of the world what is coming in this space,” she said. 

“Cultivated meats also uses fermentation but it presents other challenges, so we don’t include that in New Food. But of course, we explore it and keep an eye on developments around it. 

“We have a big radar to see what is going on.” 

This large radar ensures Tetra Pak is able to keep abreast of the latest developments and innovations in the New Food space, such as with
precision fermentation. 

“If you look at precision fermentation, in short, you can say that you can program the microbes to produce what you want,”
added Svensson. 

“For example, you can use microorganisms like algae or fungi as a ´factory’ to produce specific proteins or fat that you then take out and can use as ingredients in food production. You can then use that to replicate proteins i.e. milk proteins.”

One of the biggest challenges currently faced by New Food is the cost, and Tetra Pak is helping to find ways to drive down those costs to create a more viable product option for manufacturers. 

“If you look at pharmaceutical bioreactors you normally have low volumes and high cost, but with food it’s the opposite. We want high volume and low cost from the same base technology,” said Svensson.

Legislation is another area that needs addressing in order to address the unique positions being provided by New Food. 

“These products are already on the market in the US and Singapore, but Oceania is behind which is something we need to help overcome. Consumer acceptance is another big one. We know that any new product has hurdles to overcome in this regard,” said Svensson. 

“At the end of the day the cost point is very important to be able to reach larger markets.”

Svensson added that in just the last handful of years Tetra Pak has increased its investment in New Food technology, showing how much value the company sees in the sector.  

“At Tetra Pak, we had a program focusing on New Food and now the company believes in it so much the program has been closed and we now have New Food as one of our eight main processing categories,” she said. 

Part of this increased focus also means Tetra Pak is eager to work with interested stakeholders and decision makers, with Oceania as a region
of focus. 

“I see many players who want to collaborate across boundaries,”
said Svensson. 

“For example, here we are working with Lund University to launch Biotech Heights, which is designed to help drive the biotech industry forward. 

“We also want to bring in other industries and collaboration partners to drive substantiable food and materials using biotechnology.” 

Tetra Pak’s expertise in helping key stakeholders and industry decision makers scale up positions makes them perfectly positioned to help manufacturers do the same thing, in this case with the rise and implementation of New Food technologies. 

With increased investment and a strategic shift, Tetra Pak is poised to have a prominent position in the New Food revolution, fostering collaboration and scaling up innovations for a more sustainable future.

To learn more on Tetra Pak’s capabilities in New Food, visit tetrapak.com.au 

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