‘We anticipate great demand’: Kerry and Renaissance BioSciences ink partnership on acrylamide-reducing yeast enzyme

By Katy Askew

- Last updated on GMT

Kerry to produce and sell acrylamide-reducing yeast enzyme under license
Kerry to produce and sell acrylamide-reducing yeast enzyme under license
Irish taste and nutrition company Kerry has signed a licensing agreement with Renaissance BioScience Corp to manufacture, sell and distribute Renaissance’s non-GMO acrylamide-reducing yeast enzyme, Acryleast.

Acryleast is a natural yeast enzyme that reduces acrylamide by up to 90% across food and beverage products including biscuits, crackers, French fries, crisps, coffee and instant food. According to Kerry, it is a clean label solution that requires minimal changes to the manufacturing process and has no impact on taste, aroma and texture.

Mike Woulfe, Kerry VP of business development for enzymes, told FoodNavigator that these attributes were essential for Kerry when it was looking for an ingredient that could tackle acrylamide.

“We passionately believe in a ‘from food, for food’ philosophy and are driven to find natural solutions to customers’ challenges. For us, it was essential to find a clean, non-GMO alternative that both producers and consumers could trust to reduce acrylamide in the right way.”

With new EU acrylamide regulations coming into force earlier this year and the introduction of labelling regulations for acrylamide under Proposition 65 in California, Woulfe said that now is a pivotal time for food makers to address acrylamide.

“Governments all over the world are starting to implement new regulations to limit the amount of acrylamide and add warning signs on foods and beverages that contain high amounts of acrylamide. Food and beverage manufacturers need to take action but they also need to ensure minimal disruption to the taste and texture of the products that their consumers know and love.

Acrylamide is a suspected carcinogen that has been linked to the development of cancer in humans. Children are believed to be particularly susceptible to ill-affects because of their reduced body weight. 

In 2010, the Joint Food and Agriculture Organisation and World Health Organisation Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) concluded that “acrylamide is a human health concern”​​. 

Meanwhile, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) produced a 2014 report confirming evaluations that acrylamide in food potentially increases the risk of developing cancer for consumers across all age groups. 

Earlier this year, the EU introduced benchmark levels for acrylamide in food products. These were based on the ALARA principle (as low as reasonably achievable) and the possibility to increase these limits further in future was kept on the table. 

“Acryleast is a versatile, natural, non-GMO solution for acrylamide reduction, offering food producers a highly effective alternative to acrylamide reduction through manufacturing process changes e.g. lowering temperatures, processing time or by changing raw ingredients. By partnering with Renaissance and leveraging our unmatched taste, applications and sensory expertise, we will work together to reduce acrylamide, and ensure taste and texture remain absolutely unaltered.”

Kerry licensing tech for production, sales and distribution 

The license agreement with Kerry follows a 2017 deal with Nordic food and ingredients group Orkla​, which has distribution rights for Acryleast in Scandinavia, the Baltics and central European countries. Kerry will distribute the ingredient in the ‘rest of the world’.

This follows Renaissance’s business model as a technology provider, Dr. Cormac O’Cleirigh, Chief business development officer at Renaissance BioScience, explained.

“Renaissance is an applied life sciences company that develops and licenses novel, yeast-based, patent-protected technologies for partner companies in the global food, beverage, nutrition, biofuel, agtech and pharmaceutical industries. All production, sales and distribution activities are handled by our licensee, Kerry and their partners,” he told FoodNavigator.

“Renaissance is a technology provider that brings products to market through commercial agreements and sub-contracted R&D product development partnerships with leading industry players in the food and beverage sector. Kerry is a leading ingredient supplier, a company we’ve known and respected for many years and we’re delighted to be working with them to take this product global.”

Dr. O’Cleirigh said Kerry’s international reach and existing industry relationships made the Irish group the ideal partner to extend the range of the product. “Kerry’s global reach and their pre-eminent position within the ingredients space provides a unique opportunity to bring this product to market. Kerry are great partners and we look forward to working with them in the coming years to realise the full potential of this technology to reduce the presence of acrylamide in foods and beverages produced all over the world.”

Strong demand expected

Woulfe added that Kerry expects to see “great demand”​ for Acryleast because of the high level of “current customer interest”​ in acrylamide reduction.

“We have repeatedly demonstrated application efficacy in reducing acrylamide levels by up to 90% with no impact on taste or texture. It is a highly versatile ingredient, effective at low dose rates and requires minimal changes to existing processing methods. Across the industry, we see large growth for non-GMO solutions as consumers actively seek out more natural, clean label food products.

“We are delighted to announce our most recent partnership, with Renaissance, an innovative life science company. Their non-GMO approach to acrylamide reduction fits very well with Kerry’s clean label strategy. As manufacturers ourselves, we have a fundamental understanding of the challenge of acrylamide reduction and we bring global scale and insights that have far-reaching benefits for our customers.”

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