Unilever leverages AI to transform plant proteins and vegan innovation

By: Trademagazin editor Date: 2023. 07. 28. 09:24

Unilever is exploring precision fermentation to create plant-based products based on mycoprotein with its partner, Enough.

“We are continuously expanding the number of products that we have in our plant-based portfolio, and the reason why there is such a need for alternative proteins on the market starts with the bigger picture,” says Carla Hillhorst, Unilever’s chief R&D nutrition officer to Food Ingredients First at a recent London event centered on a new era of biotechnology and microbiomics.

“If you look at the world of food and agriculture, livestock is a huge contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. So, especially in the developed world, moving to more of a plant-based diet is important. Suppose we want to move to a world that is sustainable from a production point of view but also sustainable from a consumption point. In that case, we need to remove animal-based proteins from our diets. We cannot ignore the huge need for suitable alternatives that taste good and are nutritionally similar.”

“Exploring this whole space of alternative proteins gives us a basket of opportunity,” continues Hillhorst. And by utilizing AI and big data, these combinations and biotechnologies can help speed up the process and progress in the plant-based space.

“By putting these systems in place, you can end up with a product with a carbon footprint at least 95% lower than it,” she notes.

“So whether that is meat alternatives for The Vegetarian Butcher, a Hellman’s Vegan Mayo, a plant-based boullion or a vegan ice cream, digital and big data can be essential to the development and the design of really great products that are appealing to the consumer.”

Food Ingredients First

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