Novel Foods Group Reveals $500M Precision Fermentation Hub to Produce Brazzein

Novel Foods Group, an Abu Dhabi-based company producing sweet proteins, has announced a landmark agreement to build the first phase of a $500 million biotech production hub in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) focused on precision fermentation.

The deal was signed between Novel Foods Group, which is a subsidiary of the investment conglomerate Gewan Holding, Glatt Group, a German expert in plant engineering, BioEngineering AG, a Swiss company specialized in engineering and design, and CB Consultancy AG, a Swiss company engineering solutions for cutting-edge industries.

The new production site will initially develop brazzein, a sweet-tasting protein found in the fruit of the native West African Oubli plant, that is said to be significantly sweeter than sugar. Local people have used and eaten the fruit for many years. However, harvesting has been difficult due to the remote locations where the berries grow. 

A range of different sugars
© nur – stock.adobe.com

Alternatives to sugar

Novel Foods Group highlights its commitment to offering healthy alternatives to sugar by utilizing precision fermentation to bring brazzein to the commercial market. 

According to the announcement, the alternative sugar market is growing at approximately 5% per year, while traditional sugar is growing at 1%. Brazzein’s commercial applications extend across the F&B sector.

Through partnerships with universities and research institutions, Novel Foods creates brazzein-infused recipes and engages in consumer feedback sessions to tailor products to regional tastes. The company’s R&D center in Dubai develops innovative food products that prioritize health and sustainability.

Alaa Al Ali, shareholder and Member of the Board of Novel Foods Group, commented: “We believe people should enjoy the sweetness they love without sacrificing health or taste.”

Other ingredients

Regarding other precision fermentation ingredients in the country, the US-Australian company Change Foods signed an agreement with Kezad Group to produce animal-free casein in Abu Dhabi in 2022.

In the Middle East, Israel has the biggest concentration of precision fermentation companies to revolutionize milk production, including Imagindairy and Remilk, while the government has announced a $14 investment for a fermentation hub.

According to the Precision Fermentation Alliance and Food Fermentation Europe:  “Precision fermentation combines the process of traditional fermentation with the latest advances in biotechnology to efficiently produce a compound of interest, such as a protein, flavor molecule, vitamin, pigment, or fat.”

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