In this article for the Institute of Food Technologists, Liz Specht of the Good Food Institute explores the role that microbial fermentation can play in the alternative protein sector. Specht groups microbial fermentation techniques into three classes: traditional fermentation such as cheese and yoghurt; biomass fermentation such as Quorn and tempeh; and precision fermentation for producing specific molecules, e.g. the heme protein used by Impossible Foods.
The article argues that fermentation of filamentous fungi or mycelia could help to produce animal-free “whole cut” meat alternatives, i.e. similar to bacon or steak. Similar results can be achieved in plant-based foods by using extrusion, but there are technical challenges and bottlenecks associated with this method.
Specht also identifies five areas where the technology of microbial fermentation could be improved: selection and design of target molecules (e.g. saturated fats to replace palm oil from plants); selection of microbial strains; feedstock optimisation; bioprocess design; and end-product formulation and manufacturing.
Read the full article here. See also the Table explainer How can we reduce food-related greenhouse gas emissions?