Future Food Initiative: Bühler, Givaudan and Nestlé collaborate to boost healthy and sustainable innovation

05 Feb 2019 --- Leading food industry players have joined forces to financially back a new project which aims to accelerate the development of healthy food products that leverage consumer trends. Bühler, Givaudan and Nestlé are co-founding the Future Food Initiative (FFI), designed to step up the search for sustainable, plastic-free packaging and to secure access to affordable nutrition as part of the global challenge of addressing hunger, malnutrition and sustainability.

Launched by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zürich and research institute the Ecole Polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), the FFI sees three industrial partners co-funding the project to the tune of CHF 4.1 million (US$4.1 million).

Its overarching goal is to expand research and education in the area of food and nutrition sciences at the interface of universities and enterprises. 

“We are working for a more sustainable food system from farm to fork. The FFI will contribute valuable research to help address open questions and challenges related to sustainable nutrition,” a Nestlé spokesperson tells FoodIngredientsFirst

The initiative also seeks to bring together competences from academic and industrial research to build competitive skills for future employment opportunities.

“The first call of the program is focused on studying ancient plant varieties to develop tasty, nutritious food as well as alternatives to animal proteins in milk. The detailed aspects of this call and future areas of research are subject to further discussion and approval,” the spokesperson notes.

Nestlé continues its sustainability journey by not only co-funding this latest project, but by also ramping up efforts to lead the industry to change. The world’s largest food and beverage company has already committed to making 100 percent of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025

Nestlé is also accelerating its journey towards reaching full supply chain transparency by disclosing a list of its suppliers alongside a variety of data on its 15 priority commodities which cover 95 percent of the company’s annual sourcing of raw materials. These include soy, meat, hazelnut and vanilla. 

The company aims to avoid that any of its packaging ends up in landfills or as litter. It has instead adopted a circular economy model in which packaging, particularly plastics, are actively reused. 

Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst Fabio Campanile, Givaudan’s Head of Flavour Science & Technology, says: “As a strategic partner with the capabilities, skills and knowledge to support future innovation, Givaudan is proud to be a co-founder of the FFI.”

“The program’s objectives are closely aligned with our 2020 strategy, which focuses on Sustainability, Health & Wellbeing and working with partners to create great tasting food. It is only through collaborations such as this, bringing together industry, academia and the brightest and best young scientists, that we will be able to meet the challenges of the future.”

“Aligned with our strategy of ‘Partnering for shared success’, this initiative gives us the opportunity to leverage our capabilities and share our skills and knowledge in flavor and taste science. We look forward to exploring new ideas and new approaches with our partners that lead to the development of consumer relevant and sustainable innovations.”

“Givaudan is proud to be a co-founder of the Future Food Initiative,” says Gilles Andrier, CEO of Givaudan. “As the leader in our industry, we have a responsibility to contribute to improving the sustainability of the food value chain. It is only through collaborations such as this, bringing together industry, academia and the brightest and best young scientists, that we will be able to address the future challenges of our food systems.” 

Stefan Scheiber, CEO of the Bühler Group, says the co-funding partnership demonstrates how the company, alongside Givaudan and Nestlé, are stepping up as an industry to address challenges in the food value chain. 

“Bühler’s ambition is to create innovative and sustainable solutions, partnering with leading research institutes, industrial partners and promising start-ups in the world of food,” he says. 

In the same context, Bühler will officially open its CUBIC innovation campus in the spring and will welcome innovation partners, customers, start-ups and academics to benefit from the new facilities.

The Bühler Group’s involvement in FFI closely follows a milestone moment in the company’s 150 years history, when it created a new segment, Consumer Foods, that became operational on January 1, 2019. The group wants to position itself in the growing consumer foods market by combining the company’s current chocolate, nuts, bakery and coffee business with the Haas business.

“We have launched this initiative to pool our expertise in research and innovation to find innovative approaches for healthy foods and a sustainable supply chain,” says Dr. Detlef Günther, Vice President for Research and Corporate Relations at the ETH Zürich. 

“This initiative will create hand-in-hand partnerships for faculty of our two sister institutes of technology with partner companies of absolutely top caliber, on critical yet fun areas of research. It will also offer several talented young scientists a unique opportunity for their professional and intellectual growth,” notes Andreas Mortensen, Vice President for Research at the EPFL.

The FFI comes at a time when a growing number of suppliers are involved in a sustainable transformation. Businesses are gearing their thinking towards the importance of minimizing food loss and coming up with sustainable methods to feed a growing population that do not negatively impact the environment.

Food and beverage companies are becoming increasingly conscious of sustainability issues, including the rapid onset of climate change and the impacts that extreme weather events can have on the supply chain, particularly on raw materials. Indeed, sustainability is at the very core of what many leading suppliers are doing – increasing their commitment to sustainable ingredient solutions based on renewable resources. It is imperative that we transition to a circular economy, many believe, using renewable resources powered by renewable energy.

The increasingly thoughtful and mindful consumer is also continuing to catalyze changes in the way that companies produce, package and label their products. They expect complete transparency, wanting to know what’s in their food and where it comes from.

You can read more about Givaudan’s and Bühler’s sustainability strategies in an in-depth article, “Sustainability: The Road to a Circular Economy,” to appear in the February edition of The World of Food Ingredients

By Gaynor Selby

This article originally appeared at https://www.foodingredientsfirst.com/news/future-food-initiative-b%C3%BChler-givaudan-and-nestl%C3%A9-invest-us41m-in-new-project-to-boost-healthy-and-sustainable-innovation.html.

Katie Martin