Identifying New
Business Applications for Side Streams

One third of global agricultural production today is lost or wasted along the food chain, and many natural resources are not consistently used in food production. Diana has significant experience in turning these valuable ingredients into equally valuable products. In this interview, Diana Nova Scientific & Innovation Director Denis Guyonnet and Diana Food Environmental Project Manager Thierry Lenice explain the innovations possible with these byproducts – and how business opportunities can be generated for all Symrise business divisions.

Around 22,000 tons of banana peel are left over each year from the production of banana purees, flakes and powder.

Mr Guyonnet, what is the value of residual products and byproducts from food production?

Denis Guyonnet: The 1.3 billion tons of food not consumed by humans are a rich source of food products. These byproducts still contain many nutrients such as proteins, antioxidants, minerals, fiber or other micronutrients, which are valuable from a nutritional point of view. For example, the production of our banana purees, flakes and powder – which are used in baby food and other products – generates around 22,000 tons of banana peels a year, which still contain a lot of dietary fiber and health-promoting substances. If we extract and recycle these and many other natural ingredients, it will have a positive impact on the environment. In this way, we contribute to the conservation of natural resources while also creating new markets and economic advantages for our company.

What does that mean for the work of Diana Food?

Thierry Lenice: Most byproducts from food production are now composted, used for energy production or as animal feed. We are now trying to identify the valuable components, consider how we can extract and stabilize them during the manufacturing process and transform them into products for humans, pets or aquaculture. For example, in fruit and vegetable production, a third of the harvest is lost because it does not meet aesthetic retail criteria, which set strict specifications regarding shape, weight and size. We can use these raw materials, as well as residual material such as skins, peels, seeds or flesh, for new products.

How can these ideas be transferred to industrial use?

Guyonnet: We need to find the most suitable industrial processes for the raw materials because each has its own particular characteristics and industrial constraints. That’s why working with a variety of partners including scientists, technology start-ups, food companies and our in-house experts, is crucial.

How do you identify these methods?

Guyonnet: We have to think outside the box in order to find new ways of recycling. Our open innovation strategy enables us to test disruptive approaches with various external partners. In June 2018, we organized an Open Innovation Day with the motto “The Future of Waste” with the start-up company SoScience, which specializes in responsible innovation for the European Commission, among other things, at which 53 experts from 47 organizations and ten countries participated. The conference focused on the challenges of discussing new business opportunities from the industrial use of fruit and vegetable waste. Subsequently, two concrete projects on fruit byproducts were launched in collaboration with Diana Food.

Do you also work directly with universities?

Guyonnet: Yes. For example, in a five-year research program that Diana launched in April 2018 with Professor Yves Desjardins and other researchers from the Laval University in Québec. This project investigates the effects of fruit and vegetable polyphenols on human gut microbiota, since some polyphenols, especially those with a polymerized structure, can be considered prebiotic, i.e. they stimulate “good” intestinal bacteria. The program examines three important Diana Food byproducts (banana peels, strawberry seeds and onion peels). One of the most important challenges will be to find the process to properly extract these compounds, study their biological effects and develop an end product.

How big is the potential at Diana Food?

Lenice: Our plants process more than 80 raw materials. Ideally, we can utilize manufacturing byproducts in a way that allows us to eventually achieve 100 % upcycling. Our first goal in this process is to continue to use the valuable ingredients in food for human nutrition. Of course, this includes substances that can positively influence taste or texture.

Guyonnet: There is incredible potential because the Symrise divisions use so many different raw materials. Depending on the products, we will use these raw materials for human nutrition, pet food, aquaculture or for cosmetic ingredients. It is also likely that a byproduct can be upgraded for different applications as we rarely use the entire material for a single purpose.