Afyren and Südzucker ink supply deal on biobased organic acids for food
24 Mar 2021 --- French biotech company Afyren and Südzucker, a European sugar producer, have reached a long-term agreement on the supply of sugar beet co-products.
The feedstock will be used by Afyren Neoxy, the zero-waste, low-carbon biorefinery that will begin producing seven 100 percent biobased organic acids at industrial scale in 2022.
“The sugar beet industry generates by-products that are not directly used for food and offer low value. We use these sugar beet by-products as a feedstock to manufacture via fermentation ingredients that can be added in food recipes,” Nicolas Sordet, CEO of Afyren, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
“Organic acids can be used as functional ingredients such as preservatives, mold inhibitors, acidifiers to adjust pH, or as flavors in food applications.”
“Acetic acid can be used in ketchup, mustards, sauces as an acidifier, propionic acid, and derivatives increase the shelf life in bakery products; butyric acid and caproic are used as flavors.”
Building sustainability strategies
The partnership is in accordance with both companies’ sustainability commitments.
Using these co-products to produce biobased organic acids provides a high level of revalorization and does not affect the food chain.
The agreement to upcycle Südzucker’s sugar beet co-products into high-value chemicals fits into its commitment to conduct business in a manner that utilizes resources sustainably. Simultaneously, Südzucker aims to be climate neutral by 2050.
“We align our actions in terms of sustainability across the entire value chain – from the agricultural raw material to the finished products and co-products,” explains Michael Schäfer, chief market analyst at Südzucker’s sugar and co-product division.
“Customer requirements evolve, and we meet them with innovation and by diversifying our product portfolio across diverse geographic regions and markets.”
A milestone for functional ingredients
For Afyren, the signing of this multi-year contract marks a significant milestone in its business plan. With multiple sugar plants in areas surrounding the Afyren Neoxy plant in Carling-Saint-Avold, near the French-German border, Südzucker can guarantee supply, allowing Afyren to focus on its other business goals.
“These well-known organic acids are used as functional ingredients in various markets and until now mainly available as fossil-based molecules. Afyren does not change the usage but the production technology and offers for the first time a product portfolio of these seven bio-based acids,” explains Sordet.
“Getting a long-term deal with an industry leader like Südzucker validates our project and moves it a big step forward,” he adds.
This partnership is also a major step for the ambitious multi-stakeholder project After-Biochem, led by Afyren, which aims to make a broad contribution to the development of a strong bioeconomy sector in Europe and turn sustainably sourced non-food biomass into multiple high added-value products.
For Afyren, a circular economy allows resource efficiency. “Natural resources are precious and must be preserved. That’s why Afyren is focussed on a sustainable circular bioeconomy,” concludes Sordet.
By Elizabeth Green
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