Berries Adobe Stock 593634243

The Next Cultured-Cell Food: Berry Extracts?

Oct. 20, 2023
Israeli company Novella is developing berry compounds grown outside of the plant in a bioreactor.

An Israeli foodtech startup, Novella Ltd., is developing intact-cell berry compounds grown outside of the plant “using novel, precision-controlled-environment technology” – a bioreactor. The cutting-edge platform will ease some of the bottlenecks in the supply for high-demand berry ingredients, the company says.

Novella recently opened a facility comprising both its operational headquarters and a pilot plant to accelerate the cultivation of whole-berry fruit cells from five varieties. Each variety is designed to meet distinct market demands in the supplement market, although the developers expect to be able to apply them to the food ingredient market as well.

The main health benefit ascribed to berries has been their antioxidant capacity and related overall wellness attributes. Research shows that particular phytochemicals have particular benefits, and certain berries have higher concentrations of the compounds that confer these studied benefits.

"Berries cultivated solely for supplements on average require about 2,000 acres to yield just one ton of polyphenolic compounds," explains Itay Dana, co-founder and CBDO of Novella. "We have condensed that vast tract of agriculture into a 10K liter bioreactor that produces the same quantity of pure, high-value ingredients.

“This frees up valuable land for cultivating food crops and provides a host of other economic and environmental benefits, beginning with the complete elimination of waste. Our method requires minimal land, energy, and water usage and exerts a minimal carbon footprint.”

The process does not involve extraction. The company screens the plant's tissues to pinpoint the areas of the plant harboring the highest concentration of compounds. Tissue is taken from the skin and flesh of the berries while the fruit is in it most potent stage.

The selected cells are grown in a closed, controlled system that stimulates natural propagation. Growth is maintained at a cellular level without the need of the whole plant. The cells are then transformed, without the need for solvents, into a nutritious, highly bioaccessible and potent powder that the gastrointestinal system can readily absorb.

About the Author

Dave Fusaro | Editor in Chief

Dave Fusaro has served as editor in chief of Food Processing magazine since 2003. Dave has 30 years experience in food & beverage industry journalism and has won several national ASBPE writing awards for his Food Processing stories. Dave has been interviewed on CNN, quoted in national newspapers and he authored a 200-page market research report on the milk industry. Formerly an award-winning newspaper reporter who specialized in business writing, he holds a BA in journalism from Marquette University. Prior to joining Food Processing, Dave was Editor-In-Chief of Dairy Foods and was Managing Editor of Prepared Foods.

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