Innovation That Matters

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Combining machine learning and ancestral wisdom to uncover plant-based food ingredients 

Food & Drink

A startup is using machine learning to search its database of plants to find plant-only alternatives to modern food additives

Spotted: According to the UN, the Earth’s population will likely reach 8.5 billion by 2030. At the same time, climate change is going to make it more difficult to grow food, requiring a rapid and collaborative approach to the global food industry. For startup, The Live Green Company, the answer can be found in plants. The company has developed a way to use biotechnology and machine learning to replace animal, synthetic, and ultra-processed foods with precise plant-based alternatives.  

Live Green’s platform, dubbed Charaka, uses machine learning to analyse data about thousands of plants and find appropriate plant substitutes for animal-based and artificial ingredients. Charaka’s algorithms analyse complex data about the phytochemical compounds, bioactive molecules, and nutritional profiles of various plants. The company claims that the platform can “uncover hidden and non-linear relationships and predict innovative functionalities and uses” of different ingredients to find a perfect plant-based substitute.  

Developing these substitutes involves creating blends of natural plant ingredients like sunflower protein, banana, and flax meal without changing the taste, texture, or mouthfeel of the finished product. In addition, Live Green’s platform also identifies more sustainable local alternatives to vegetarian ingredients like avocado. From the idea stage to putting a new all-plant product on the shelf can take as little as 90 days. 

Live Green has thus far piloted several product lines – including burger mixes, baking mixes, frozen burgers, ice-creams, and protein bars – that are plant-based and free of additives, allergens, gluten, cholesterol, and trans fats.  

Other recent food and drink innovations spotted by Springwise include fungal fermentation for natural food colourings, protein and umami extracted from cabbages, and microbial protein for people with modified diets.

Written By: Lisa Magloff



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