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Tetra Pak announces new set of research collaborations and programmes to tackle global food system challenges

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3 min read
AUTHOR: Fiona Holland
Lund University

Food packaging and processing company Tetra Pak is teaming up with a selection of start-ups, tech companies and universities to boost innovation in the areas of food safety, availability, and sustainability.

The company is launching several new research collaborations and programmes with groups in France, Sweden, Italy, and the United States, with the aim of exploring new ways to tackle the above issues in the food system.

A range of development programmes will be built through these partnerships covering themes such as: plant-based food, the use of enzymes to reduce food waste and the development of insect protein.

Some of the universities and start-ups involved in the collaboration include the platforms Smart Food Paris and Urban Lab from France’s economic development and innovation agency Paris&Co; start-ups EnginZyme, NuCaps and Tebrito; and several academic institutions including Lund University in Sweden and the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (UNIMORE) in Italy.

Rodrigo Godoi, VP Processing Portfolio Management at Tetra Pak, says: “We have conducted over 300 screenings that resulted in more than 10 pilot projects to be researched. We encourage start-ups to come to us with their ideas as well as to join cross-industry teams to explore opportunities.

“We recognise the value in coming together with experts across an ecosystem in food, science and engineering to help identify new solutions and address challenges intensified by the changes in the food supply chain.”

The cell-free biomanufacturing platform EnginZyme, which first announced its collaboration with Tetra Pak in June 2022, will work with the company to find ways to reuse acid whey – a by-product from making dairy foods like yoghurts and cheeses.

EnginZyme plans to use its enzyme technology to reduce waste streams and generate revenue from by-products, by turning acid whey into valuable ingredients that can be used in healthy food products.

Dr Karim Engelmark Cassimjee, CEO at EnginZyme, said: “The food industry faces many sustainability challenges, especially the ability to achieve efficient and sustainable production at the same time.

“The cell-free biomanufacturing that we have pioneered at EnginZyme can meet this need with its broad applicability, low cost of production, short development timelines and predictable scalability. Our collaboration with Tetra Pak is an incredibly exciting opportunity – in particular how we are exploring solutions to unlock the potential of by-products like acid whey”.

While ending worldwide hunger, food insecurity and all forms of malnutrition by 2030 is one of the United Nation’s key Sustainable Development Goals, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the world is not yet on track to achieve this.

If nothing changes, the number of people facing hunger and malnutrition is expected to reach more 840 million by 2030.

Laurence Mott, Executive VP Development and Technology at Tetra Pak says: “The challenges of the global food industry are broad and varied. The only way we can meet these challenges is to pool our expertise.

“Only together will we secure a better future in the areas of sustainability, food safety and food availability.”

Find out what journalist and activist George Monbiot thinks about the future of food production in the UK and worldwide in this Food Matters Live Podcast episode:

George Monbiot: ‘Protein production must move from farm to factory’