The competition was fierce, with three finalists vying for the Start-up Award: Comet Bio, Neurohacker Collective and SP Nutraceuticals.
Following a months-long judging process, Comet Bio was named the winner. The company developed an innovative process to upcycle crop leftovers into healthy and sustainable products that allow farmers to take advantage of their whole harvest.
From leftovers to healthy and sustainable products
The judges cited the company’s interesting upcycling story as well as the use of prebiotics as deciding factors.
Comet Bio CEO, Rich Troyer, said the award validates the ingredient manufacturer's progress and hard work in creating ingredients that are both sustainable and healthy. “Our company’s mission is to use our patented upcycling technology to solve the pressing issue of food waste and the need for more nutritious ingredients. Our innovative extraction process allows us to upcycle crops leftover after harvest – such as straw, leaves, and shells – into truly unique ingredients."
Troyer added that while being a part of an initiative that helps to create a more sustainable and healthy food system is rewarding, the team's efforts still come with challenges.
The double burden of nutrition
“Forty percent of the food produced around the globe currently goes to waste according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. At the same time, nutrition gaps and food insecurity continue to persist, even in the United States, where more than 30 percent of the population is considered undernourished while also either obese or overweight," said Troyer.
“This paradox of our food system producing more waste than ever, yet still not providing adequate nutrition demonstrates the need for innovation. At Comet Bio, we are working to address both challenges by extracting nutrition from food system waste. Our proprietary upcycling technology produces novel ingredients with enormous nutritious potential while simultaneously addressing critical environmental challenges.”
According to Troyer, Comet Bio’s commercially available Arrabina Plant Fiber Extract has superior tolerability and functionality within the prebiotic market. He added that their Sweeterra syrups are sustainable and a lower sugar alternative to traditional sweeteners with no trade-offs in terms of taste and performance.
Comet Bio’s production process for their line of Sweeterra syrups emits 60% less greenhouse gases than traditional corn syrup manufacturing, according to an independent well-to-wheel analysis.
Addressing the malnutrition and obesity overlap
Looking ahead, Troyer told NutraIngredients-USA that Comet Bio has a bold vision for the future of ingredients. “A vision where a farm’s entire harvest can be utilized to make high-quality ingredients all while providing the proper nourishment for the end consumer. We will continue to look for innovative solutions that address both the nutrition gap and food system waste problems.”