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Start-up of the month: Reduced
FoodBev Media

FoodBev Media

20 December 2023

Start-up of the month: Reduced

It’s easy to get swept up in the news and activities of the industry’s global titans, but what about the smaller firms that are out there flexing their creative muscles? In this instalment of ‘Start-up of the month’ – which celebrates the lesser-known companies and their innovations – we speak to Emil Munck de Voss, CEO & co-founder of Reduced, a Denmark-based start-up specialising in upcycled food ingredients. Can you provide an overview of Reduced and its mission to reduce food waste? Reduced is developing and producing a range of upcycled food ingredients that enable manufacturers to reduce their environmental impact – without compromising taste and flavour. More specifically, we use fermentation technology to upcycle side streams into natural savoury food ingredients. We are proud to have developed proprietary processes at our lab, demonstrated solid commercial traction at an early stage and built a production facility in Copenhagen. Today, we supply over 100 accounts in the food service market and deliver ingredients to food industry customers in collaboration with leading international food ingredients supplier Caldic. Our mission is to reduce food waste by repurposing side streams from the food and agricultural industry and providing cost-effective, natural and flavour-rich food ingredients. We are a team of 15 employees based in Copenhagen, and we are backed by EIFO, Pollen Capital, Rockstart AgriFood and VÅR ventures. How does Reduced's technology contribute to the reduction of food waste? Our technology enables us to process various side streams and convert them into natural flavour solutions. Basically, we have created a fermentation process that allows us to use different side streams as substrates and run a very time-efficient bioprocess. The result is a liquid or a powder with strong savoury top notes and fairly high values of glutamic. All natural and also certified organic. So far, we have proven that our technology can be applied to many different side streams: mushroom stems, bran, broken rice & lentils, BSG, chicken bones and offcuts from different vegetables. These have all been converted into commercial products such as Mushroom Umami, Vegetable Concentrate, Chicken Umami and different soups and sauces. We have also entered some exciting partnerships with Scandinavia's largest hotel chain, Scandic, and one of Denmark's largest food service companies, Dagrofa Food Service. Here, we create, launch and commercialise upcycled products in close partnership. These partnerships showcase how our technology enables the reduction of food waste across the whole value chain while creating commercial value for all parties involved. Lastly, we are very proud to see our technology applied in our new partnership with Amadori, one of the largest companies in the Italian agri-food sector. With Amadori's 800 farms and 18 production plants, this collaboration has the potential to make a significant dent in the millions of tons of food that is lost or wasted every year. Are there any particular challenges in developing technology that transforms by-products into food ingredients, and how has Reduced addressed these challenges? Our main focus this year has been scalability, consistent quality and flavour intensity while maintaining clean label status. We have addressed the challenges of scalability and quality by evaluating the side streams closely in terms of different criteria such as availability, quantities, number of available suppliers, need for pre-treatment and particle sizes. Our fermentation technology has been designed to require minor adjustments from the varying side streams, which also reduces the complications in terms of consistency in quality. Lastly, our R&D team work daily to make even more flavour-potent food ingredients from side streams. When compared to our competitors, I believe that we have come far, but there is still room to become even better.

Can you explain how Reduced uses fermentation as a tool to create savoury food ingredients? Savoury sensations in food are primarily derived from glutamic acid present in fermented foods like soy sauce, parmesan cheese or fish sauce. When fermenting, we want to break down proteins to glutamic acid. Therefore, protein, and a few other components, are crucial when creating delicious savoury food ingredients. Luckily, these components can be found in various side streams if you know where to look and have the right technology to utilise them. This combination of know-how and technology is how we use fermentation as a tool to create offensively delicious savoury ingredients at Reduced.

What makes the flavour solutions produced by Reduced unique compared to other methods? Today, savoury food ingredients are produced in three main ways: molecular formulation with chemicals, yeast or solid-state fermentation. The molecular formulation with chemicals is effective but, by definition, not natural. Yeast is natural, but the flavours you can gain from these products are somewhat limited and hard to make interesting. And consumers are increasingly becoming less fond of yeast in food product labels. Lastly, the solid-state fermented flavour solutions, such as tamari and miso, taste great but are often expensive because they require a long processing time. This means that food manufacturers cannot afford to use them in product formulations. Our technology allows us to create cost-effective natural flavour solutions with a broad savoury flavour range. This combination can none of the above deliver. And we make it from upcycled ingredients. This also means that our end product has a very low CO2e pr. kg, which is also important for our customers. What's next for Reduced? We have just announced our partnership with Amadori, and we are diving deep into this work in the coming months. We have already created the first prototypes based on some specific processing side streams, which have shown great promise. Scaling of the final products from this partnership will potentially also take up some time in 2024, which we are excited to get started with. We also have some new product launches and partnerships that kick off Q1 next year that we are looking forward to sharing. Lastly and mostly, it's for us to continue to do what we do: reducing food waste and creating offensively delicious flavour solutions.

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