Renaissance BioScience receives grant to support development of yeast-based solutions

Grant and support from the Canadian Food Innovation Network and the Canadian Technology Accelerator programme will propel Renaissance BioScien’s commercial development of yeast that reduces off-flavours found in plant-based proteins.

Renaissance BioScience has announced its project to develop a yeast-based solution that addresses off-flavours and aromas in plant-based protein products.

Renaissance has been awarded CA$232,000 in funding from the Canadian Food Innovation Network (CFIN) to support the company’s work with food industry partners in developing a clean-label, non-GMO solution that will transform and neutralise compounds which lead to off-flavours and undesirable aromas in plant-based flours and proteins.

Plant-based protein products offer certain health and sustainability benefits versus traditional animal-based proteins. However, unpleasant flavours and odours hinder product diversification and widespread consumer acceptance. Protein Industries Canada’s 2023 Global Market Forecast study noted that 44% of consumers wish for a wider variety of plant-based products and 58% of consumers who reduced their consumption of plant-based protein cited unappealing taste and texture as a reason.

“The undesirable flavours and off-aromas of plant-based flours and proteins are caused by some of the biomolecules making up the bean matrix, and compounds produced from natural reactions that occur during processing. Market class, cultivar, and environmental factors can influence the extent and variety of these aromas and flavours,” shared Dr John Husnik, Renaissance’s CSO and office of the CEO.

Renaissance addresses this challenge by applying its clean-label, non-GMO yeast technology that uses natural fermentation. Said technology is composed of classical yeast breeding and other non-GMO techniques that aim to augment natural yeast metabolic processes.

“We have identified naturally occurring yeast enzymes which may convert aldehydes responsible for vegetal off-aromas into other compounds with higher odour thresholds, thereby improving sensory attributes. Our yeast will be optimised to naturally express these enzymes during the fermentation of plant-based flours,” said Dr Husnik.

The company has used its yeast bioengineering expertise to reduce the presence of the off-aroma contaminant hydrogen sulfide in a range of out-licensed wine and beer yeast strains that are seeing commercial sales around the world.

This plant-based project has the support of Pulse Canada; Renaissance is also collaborating with food industry partners to ensure the yeast’s effectiveness and efficiency in commercial settings.

To further the commercialisation of this technology, the Government of Canada’s international Trade Commissioner Service has included Renaissance in its 2024 Food Technologies Canadian Technology Accelerator programme. This initiative connects Canadian corporations with export, investment, and partnership opportunities in global markets.

Dr Husnik commented: “We’re excited to receive this funding from CFIN and to be accepted into the 2024 Food Technologies Canadian Technology Accelerator programme for our clean-label, non-GMO yeast technology. Our team is confident that we can neutralise the off-aromas and flavours in plant-based protein foods, and we look forward to mutually beneficial outcomes for our company, our partners, and plant-based food makers around the world. Our innovative yeast platform technology will contribute to Canada’s growing role as a global leader in plant-based foods and sustainable protein innovation.”