Embion ties-up with Asahi to up-cycle brewing by-products: ‘Our super-extracts offer a glimpse into the future’

By Katy Askew contact

- Last updated on GMT

Embion and Asahi team-up to develop food ingredients up-cycled from brewing by-product / Pic: Embion
Embion and Asahi team-up to develop food ingredients up-cycled from brewing by-product / Pic: Embion

Related tags: Circular economy, up-cycled, Dietary fiber, microbiome

Embion Technologies, a spin-off of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, has entered into a joint development agreement with Japanese drinks giant Asahi Group Holdings to up-cycle brewing by-products into ‘super potent extracts’ for food production.

Embion, an industrial biotechnology and green chemistry innovator, will work alongside Asahi Quality and Innovations (AQI), the R&D subsidiary of Asahi Group Holdings to develop and leverage ‘breakthrough technologies’ to create new products from the brewing by-products generated by Asahi.

Embion will provide technology and knowhow to biomass processing, deriving customized ‘bioactive super-extracts’ from plant and microbial biomass. 

“Embion has a B2B IP and technology development and licensing model focusing on nutrition and health. Embion enables food and beverage companies to rapidly prototype and create new solutions for next-generation nutrition while setting up new circular supply chains,”​ Georgios Savoglidis, the Swiss start-up’s Co-Founder and CEO, told FoodNavigator.

Embion’s platform technology accelerates the development of functional nutrition by tapping into and extracting 'highly potent' molecules from industrial biomass side-streams.

“The end products provide superior and combined sought after functionalities, such as health, formulation and supply benefits, for food, beverage and supplement concepts, aligned with consumer demand and sustainable development goals,” ​Savoglidis explained. 

‘Super nutritious’ extract for human nutrition

AQI and Embion began to develop a relationship more than two years ago when Embion came up with its first ‘super-extract’, Prembion, to support antibiotic-free animal production by upcycling the grain by-product that is generated through the process of beer making.

“Prembion is a nature-based, GMO-free complex hydrolysate, a source of multiple active nutrients extracted from the brewers’ spent grains. The complex prebiotics that Embion extracts under the Prembion umbrella brand are solutions to improving health outcomes for animals via manipulation of the microbiome, to result in, for example, balanced growth and an antibiotic free cultivation,”​ the food tech founder told us.

Under the joint development agreement, the partners will now develop a detailed study of business development opportunities using Embion’s technology. The focus for this work will be in the human nutrition space.

In particular, Savoglidis revealed, Embion is targeting the development of prebiotic ingredients such as dietary fibres that can be used to support a healthy gut microbiome.

“The gut microbiome responds particularly well to dietary fibres. While most people are familiar with probiotics - live microorganisms that we can consume though many foods to supplement our resident bacteria - prebiotics are less known, despite a growing body of clinical studies and other scientific evidence attesting to their positive effect on our health.

“Embion’s super-extracts offer a glimpse into the future. Our complex bioactives from natural sources allow us to ‘extract’ this functionality that is locked within nature; the biomass matrix we start from. And through the right formulation, deliver super benefits to the target audience.”

Embion Asahi brewers byproduct concept
Brewing by-product to be up-cycled into 'super nutritious' food ingredient / Pic: Embion

Healthy for people and planet

Savoglidis believes that increased availability and accessibility of ingredients like prebiotics could have a positive impact on population health, reducing the risk of developing NCDs.

“Prebiotics have been shown to reduce the risks of cardiovascular diseases and cancers, as well as other illnesses. Prebiotics, just like other fibres, are carbohydrates. Humans do not digest them, but probiotic bacteria in our gastrointestinal tracts flourish on them, making it more difficult for dangerous pathogenic bacteria to multiply.”

And consumer demand for this kind of solution is on the up. “Various microbes that reside in our guts and elsewhere in and on our bodies play a crucial part in our health and wellbeing. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the impact that their diet has on their health. Increasingly they demand healthier, more natural, sustainable and affordable products to improve their nutrition. Prebiotics are becoming a more and more popular functional ingredient, that is getting added to various human nutrition products.”

Embion’s technology doesn’t only support healthy people, it is also good for the planet because it enables the creation of ingredients from food and agricultural side streams that are otherwise wasted.

“This upcycling contributes to extending our food resources, security of supply, and sustainability with a technology that is able to reduce carbon footprint even further than the most sustainable technologies in the market today,”​ noted Savoglidis.

Related topics: R&D, Beer, Wine, Spirits, Cider

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