‘We need to question the status quo’: Tetra Pak looks to accelerate innovation through collaboration

By Katy Askew

- Last updated on GMT

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Tetra Pak steps up collaboration with external partners to boost food industry innovation / Pic: GettyImages-Brankospejs
Tetra Pak steps up collaboration with external partners to boost food industry innovation / Pic: GettyImages-Brankospejs
Swiss packaging group Tetra Pak has unveiled a set of research collaborations that it hopes will help accelerate innovation to address the challenges facing the global food system.

The initiative is part of the company’s drive to nurture an innovation ecosystem to open new opportunities in the areas of food availability, safety and sustainability. Some of the programmes announced today include, France’s Paris&Co innovation platforms, Smart Food Paris and Urban Lab, technology start-ups EnginZyme, NuCaps and Tebrito and leading research universities in Italy and Sweden including University of Modena, Reggio Emilia (UNIMORE) and Lund University.

“Tetra Pak has been an early advocate of forming and strengthening links between academia and the food industry. We have several long-standing relationships with universities and research institutions. We’ve also been working with game changing start-ups and tech companies to accelerate innovation,”​ Laurence Mott, Executive VP Development and Technology at Tetra Pak, commented.

Tetra Pak believes that by working alongside external partners it will be able to seek out solutions to some of the pressing issues facing the food system. “Now more than ever this is vital. 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,”​ Mott said.

‘We need to question the status quo’

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, acute food insecurity has hit ‘new heights’. The world is in a very different place compared to six years ago, when FAO committed to the goal of ending hunger, food insecurity and all forms of malnutrition by 2030.

“The current reality is that we have not been progressing fast enough towards ensuring access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food for all people. As an example, over 2 billion people did not have access to enough safe and nutritious food in 2020,”​ Tetra Pak noted.

In an attempt to address challenges around food and sustainability, the Swiss company is teaming up with entities across countries such as France, US, Sweden and Italy to explore different innovations across the food system. These include a range of development programmes - from exploring new food categories, such as plant-based food, to using enzymes that reduce food waste to advancing the insect protein movement.

“To drive innovation, we need to question status quo and keep pushing our boundaries, working together with external partners who bring fresh ideas and perspectives to the table. At Tetra Pak, we are continuously exploring new concepts, new food ingredients and new production methods that sit outside of our ‘core’ competencies,”​ Rodrigo Godoi, VP Processing Portfolio Management at Tetra Pak, explained.

Tetra Pak conducted over 300 screenings that resulted in more than 10 pilot, the company revealed. “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,”​ Godoi noted.

Examples of collaborations include work Tetra Pak is doing in Sweden with start-up EnginZyme, unlocking the potential of enzymes recover and reuse by-products and improve the quality of a range of products such as dairy and protein vegan replacement, prebiotic dairy products and natural sweetener enhanced fruit juices.

Commenting on the benefits of partnering with a company like Tetra Pak EnginZyme CEO Dr Karim Engelmark Cassimjee, CEO at EnginZyme, said it is ‘an incredibly exciting opportunity’ – pointing in particular to the work the companies are carrying out to explore solutions to unlock the potential of by-products like acid whey.

“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,”​ the start-up CEO said.

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