San Francisco-based Treasure8 has developed SAUNA, what it describes as a ‘revolutionary’ dehydration technology. The system is capable of preserving more nutritional value of dried food products than conventionally used methods, and can also upcycle surplus produce and food.
“Large volumes of excess produce or post-processing waste are our sweet spot, but the technology is equally applicable to virgin organic material,” Timothy Childs, Founder and co-CEO of Treasure8, told FoodNavigator.
“While we can dehydrate and process those at any point in the supply chain, we believe that processing as close to the point of harvest offers the greatest gain for people, planet and prosperity. This not only because nutrition is best captured fresh, but also to make the value chain more equitable and more sustainable. However, typical use cases also include inclusion of our technology in existing (CPG) processing facilities as well as setting up centralized cooperative or co-manufacturing facilities.”
Treasure8’s tech can be used to preserve a wide range of foodstuffs which can in turn be processed into new finished applications, Childs continued.
“Examples include strawberries, banana, mango, pineapple, apple, potato, seaweed, kale, mushroom, onion, bell pepper, corn, and more. Post- SAUNA, the applications are endless because of the high nutrition levels we retain, the built-in log4+ kill step and the shelf life we create. Chips, chunks and pieces can be marketed as is or serve as ingredients for snacks, cereals, bars and other products.”
There is also the opportunity for ingredient development: “Powderising SAUNA-processed material is a particularly powerful way of bringing nutrition and flavours into many products in affordable ways. Think soups, noodles, shakes, and many other recipes. What’s important is that the business model enables dual margin models where the cost structure and nutrition quality work both for affordable and premium nutrition.”
In this way Treasure8 believes its technology offers an important tool for combatting two of the biggest challenges facing the food sector today: the provision of affordable and accessible nutrition and the reduction of food waste.
Global ambitions: ‘We need partners and scale’
The US start-up wants to have a big global impact. Since inception, Treasure8’s mission has been to create systemic change though healthier, cheaper and more sustainable nutrition.
COVID-19, the company said, has highlighted the ‘urgency’ of improving access to affordable, nutrient-dense, disease-fighting food products on a global scale. “If COVID-19 has shown us one thing, it is that we need to systemically rethink and rebuild a new food system,” Childs noted.
To support this vision, Treasure8 has formed a tie-up with end-to-end innovation expert PA Consulting.
“Our ambitions to scale up are global. In that regard PA’s global footprint and network are the perfect match for us,” Childs explained.
“Our ambition is to lead the resource revolution to deploy nutrition to humanity. We build health and fight disease by democratising access to whole food nutrition while increasing planetary health. To do that, we need partners, and scale across the food system. This is where PA Consulting comes in. Their network across visionary CPG companies is unparalleled, and their engineering capabilities to help us scale our proprietary technology are second to none.”
PA boasts ‘a strong track record’ in leading partnerships with start-ups and manufacturers to accelerate new technologies to market.
In sustainability, PA works with regulators, brands and start-ups to define breakthrough strategies, develop new circular products and services and deliver more sustainable organisations. The consultancy has been involved in projects that leverage renewable paper-pulp and seaweed extracts as alternatives to single-use plastics and it claims to have led a ‘manufacturing revolution’ through circular process design.
For Treasure8, PA will ‘turbo-boost’ the scale-up and commercialisation of their dehydration technologies and operations, as well as facilitate access to its extensive network of global CPGs, food companies and manufacturers, the consultancy predicted.
“Importantly, both PA and Treasure8 share a common purpose to drive systemic change in the food system by making it more sustainable, resilient, and equitable, with a focus on providing nutrition security for all,” Wil Schoenmakers, Global Head of Consumer Products & Manufacturing at PA Consulting told this publication.
“Most CPG companies share this ambition, especially now that the world is going through the unsettling convergence of what Treasure8 calls the ‘quadri-crises’ (health, economic, social and climate). But as in any crisis, there is opportunity to seize the moment, do better and create value for all stakeholders in the system.”
Schoenmakers said it is becoming increasingly important for the food sector to develop innovation ecosystems that leverage collaboration to build more sustainable systems. “What has become abundantly clear in recent years is that no one organisation has all the answers. To build a positive human future, we need to innovate and collaborate, creating an ecosystem of purpose led organisations. We are excited to partner with these companies,” he explained.
Childs and Schoenmakers are both optimistic about how quickly Treasure8’s solution can have a global impact on nutrition and food waste.
“With PA’s help, we aspire to scale up our technology toward the end of this year,” Childs revealed.
“The world at large - and the business world in particular - are in dire need of ingenious solutions that benefit people and the planet. Health, equitability, affordability and sustainability are key value concepts we aim to improve on immediately. With the right scaling partners (investors, customers, suppliers and more) we can do this,” Schoenmakers added.