Kern Tec Is Turning the ‘Untapped Nutrients’ in Fruit Pits Into Yogurt
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Austrian food tech start-up, Kern Tec showcased its upcycled apricot kernel dairy products at the popular BioFach European organic food fair held in Germany.
Kern Tec says it can make a range of products developed from upcycling apricot kernels, including non-dairy drinks, plant-based yogurt, cheese, ice cream, oils, and chocolate spreads.
“What a lot of people don’t realize is that within this kernel is a precious nut if you process the kernel correctly,” Michael Beitl, co-founder of Kern Tec, said at the event.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), apricot kernels are considered to have healing properties, but in most of the world, the kernels are discarded as waste. Kern Tec’s product valorizes and processes this sidestream that would otherwise be discarded. The company releases the “untapped nutrients,” which Beitl says “is full of healthy fats and proteins.”
But stone fruit pits, particularly apricot kernels contain cyanide and can be deadly if not processed correctly. The company launched ice cream made from apricot, cherry, and plum pits last summer.
“In Europe alone, we have over 500,000 metric tons of this as a side product, which we constantly produce, generating more CO2,” he said.
The yogurt was in development for two years, according to Beitl.
“With our apricot upcycling process, when you compare it to other conventional resources like oat or coconut, it has the lowest CO2 emissions per kilogram of raw material,” he said. “This is important for the consumer, who increasingly wants sustainability as part of their purchasing.”
Sustainable dairy alternatives
Beitl says he thinks there’s a market of consumers who will want a sustainable and delicious alternative to conventional dairy – even with the risks, which the company says are extremely low with their novel processing tech.
“We educate consumers via numbers. Consumers love the story of upcycling as it makes sense for everyone, but how you catch people is with the numbers,” he said. “Our milk products show graphs comparing our CO2 emissions with other milk, such as soy.”
According to Beitl, upcycling is no longer a trend, but here to stay. “We’ve noticed that plant-based and meat-alternative food is trending here at BioFach. It’s not just in the dairy sector. It’s in meat and other meat substitutes,” he said.