Chinova Bioworks Expands Production Of Upcycled Mushroom Ingredient To Meet Clean Label Food Demand

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Canadian firm Chinova Bioworks has ramped up their production capabilities to meet the fast-growing demand for clean-label food products. The company’s flagship ingredient, Chiber, is derived from the upcycled stems of white button mushrooms and functions as a natural, synthetic-free preservative.

Chinova Bioworks is rapidly expanding its manufacturing capacity with a newly constructed 20,000 square foot Bioscience Manufacturing Incubator facility and a 6,000 square foot space to house its R&D and office. The announcement, which was made as the New Brunswick-based firm reached its five-year anniversary, comes in response to surging demand from food producers who are looking to keep up with the consumer shift towards clean-label products.  

The company’s proprietary ingredient is Chiber, a completely natural, non-artificial preservative ingredient that is extracted from the stems of white button mushrooms. These mushrooms are sourced from farmers, giving them an extra revenue stream for the by-product that would otherwise go to waste. 

Chiber is vegan-friendly, non-GMO and allergen-free, and does not affect the sensory qualities and taste of food and beverages while being able to extend product shelf life. The patented ingredient is also consistent in its ability to act as a food preservative, unlike other natural mushroom extracts. 

Chinova Bioworks co-founders Natasha Dhayagude (L) and David Brown (R).

Ingredient producers and brands are under pressure to reformulate and keep up. Companies that we work with are very aware that they need a replacement for artificial ingredients to preserve product quality.

Natasha Dhayagude, Co-Founder & CEO, Chinova Bioworks

Chinova Bioworks was founded by Natasha Dhayagude, David Brown and Dr. Tanzina Huq, who came together during an entrepreneurship accelerator and shared a common mission of advancing food waste-fighting, healthy and sustainable solutions. 

“Consumers are demanding transparency when it comes to the ingredients in their food and beverage products. They want natural, healthy, sustainable ingredients that have a purpose,” said CEO Dhayagude. 

“Because of this increased awareness and scrutiny, ingredient producers and brands are under pressure to reformulate and keep up. Companies that we work with are very aware that they need a replacement for artificial ingredients to preserve product quality, freshness and shelf life.” 

Since its inception, Chinova Bioworks has worked with clients across multiple categories within the food industry, including plant-based meat and dairy producers, as well as beverage, sauces and condiment brands

Commenting on their manufacturing expansion, COO Brown said that it will allow the firm to “keep ahead of the incredible growth in demand we’ve been seeing from our current customers, and build capacity to be able to service additional food and beverage products.” 

Chiber has been incorporated as a natural preservative in plant-based meat and a number of other food products.

In the next five years, we see Chiber becoming established as a mainstay in the industry,

David Brown, Co-Founder & COO, Chinova Bioworks

“We’ve demonstrated that we can manufacture this ingredient to the highest quality standards in the industry, by achieving the highest grades and certifications for food quality. This growth in capacity will further our excellence in quality manufacturing,” he added. 

Dhayagude and Brown also highlighted the impact of the Covid-19 in accelerating demand for their clean-label ingredient, with consumers increasingly attentive over nutrition labels, health and food safety. 

“In the next five years, we see Chiber becoming established as a mainstay in the industry,” said the co-founders. 

Already, a number of brands have been adapting their formulations to appeal to shoppers, including some of the largest players in the plant-based meat space. Food tech giant Beyond Meat’s latest burger iteration, for instance, now boasts 35% lower fat and calorie content, while Heura’s new patties slashes fat content by nearly two-thirds compared to its conventional counterparts. 

Another trend that Chinova Bioworks will benefit from as a first-mover in the space is upcycling. So far, a handful of startups have been paving the way in capitalising on food waste, but larger conglomerates are beginning to hop on board too, with the likes of Nestlé making its foray into the segment with a new upcycled coffee husk drink

All images courtesy of Chinova Bioworks.

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