Renaissance BioScience's Innovative Yeast Technology Enhances Flavor of Plant-Based Foods

Grant and support from the Canadian Food Innovation Network and the Canadian Technology Accelerator program propel the commercial development of yeast, expected to greatly reduce off-flavors found in plant-based proteins
Food & Nutrition
February 10, 2024

In a move that signals a major advance for the plant-based food industry, Renaissance BioScience Corp., a prominent figure in the bioengineering of yeast, has embarked on a groundbreaking project. The aim is to tackle the persistent issue of off-flavors and aromas in plant-based protein products, a hurdle that has long hampered the sector's expansion.

Funded by a grant of CA$232,000 from the Canadian Food Innovation Network (CFIN), Renaissance is setting out to create a clean-label, non-GMO yeast-based solution. This initiative underscores the company’s commitment to leveraging its bioengineering prowess to enhance the palatability of plant-based foods.

The burgeoning market for plant-based proteins, known for their health and sustainability benefits, faces a significant challenge: the off-putting flavors and odors that deter consumer interest. This issue has stifled the variety and acceptance of these products. According to a 2023 Global Market Forecast by Protein Industries Canada, a significant portion of consumers, 44%, are yearning for a greater array of plant-based options. Moreover, 58% of those who have cut back on plant-based proteins attribute their decision to the products' unsatisfactory taste and texture.

Renaissance is addressing this flavor challenge head-on. The company is known for its success in bioengineering yeast to mitigate off-aromas, notably hydrogen sulfide, in various wine and beer yeast strains. This same expertise is now being channeled towards plant-based proteins, utilizing their clean-label, non-GMO yeast technology based on natural fermentation.

The project enjoys the support of Pulse Canada and involves collaboration with food industry partners to tailor the yeast for effective use in commercial settings. The ultimate goal is to align with the evolving expectations of today's consumers.

Further bolstering this endeavor, the Government of Canada's International Trade Commissioner Service has included Renaissance in its 2024 Food Technologies Canadian Technology Accelerator program. This initiative seeks to connect Canadian firms with opportunities in export, investment, and partnerships in the global arena.

Projections by Protein Industries Canada suggest a bright future for the plant-based protein market, with potential growth from US$40 billion in 2021 to over US$200 billion by 2035. This expansion highlights the immense potential for innovative solutions like the one Renaissance is developing.

Dr. John Husnik, Renaissance’s Chief Scientific Officer and member of the Office of the CEO, expressed enthusiasm about the project. “We’re excited to receive this funding from CFIN and to be accepted into the 2024 Food Technologies Canadian Technology Accelerator program for our clean-label, non-GMO yeast technology. Our team is confident that we can neutralize the off-aromas and flavors 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.”

As the global market for plant-based proteins grows and consumer expectations evolve, Renaissance is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of food innovation.

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