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Kemin advances sustainable rosemary for clean label food preservation

September 11, 2021
Food & Drink

Kemin Industries is driving further growth in clean label food preservation on the back of its growth in rosemary innovation. The company’s proprietary rosemary is formulated into effective clean label solutions to help keep food fresher, safer and more flavorful.

Moreover, the company – which is celebrating 25 years of its rosemary line – says that innovation in precision agriculture will facilitate a continued improvement in sustainable growing practices of the company’s rosemary line.

Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, Dr. John Greaves, vice president of Specialty Crops at Kemin, says rosemary and the products developed using it have played an important role in the early formation and subsequent growth of three Kemin business units.

“We have tailored these innovations to meet specific customer needs. Along with other innovations at Kemin, the innovation in rosemary helped demonstrate that natural molecules could replace synthetic varieties and help provide solutions for multiple industries.”

Since then, Kemin has continued these innovations using plants, microorganisms and microalgae as more sustainable solutions than synthetic alternatives.

Fully integrated supply chains
Today, rosemary is recognized alongside tocopherols as a significant component in maintaining natural freshness and flavor.

As one of the largest vertically integrated producers of sustainably grown rosemary, Kemin offers a well-tracked supply chain and can trace its crops from cuttings to the final product.

“We continue to invest in plant breeding, cropping system development and novel agronomic technologies. These certified ‘sustainable growing’ practices produce more of our target molecules from the same land area as a key component to a sustainable future,” explains Greaves.

The company also has different growing locations in the US and internationally with its growing partners to manage risk against weather-related phenomena.

“Every lot of dried rosemary leaves can be traced back to a particular grower, field and season so that we have full traceability,” adds Greaves.

Increasing efficacy of plants
Rosemary produces many very potent molecules, and Kemin will continue to explore the opportunities across industries these molecules work in.

“In addition, we continue to look at rosemary’s synergy with new and complementary molecules to find new solutions for our customers,” continues Greaves. “Innovation in precision agriculture will facilitate a continued improvement in sustainable growing practices of our rosemary line.”

Further, the company continues to breed for ever-better performing varieties of rosemary and all the plants grown at Kemin. “We are exploring new technologies to help increase the efficacy of our products. Our research teams continue to develop exciting new test formulations across several different applications that we hope will improve our customer’s products,” says Greaves.

“We are also continuing to look for other applications based on specific molecules.”

Improving biomass through plant breeding
Before the innovation and initial investment by Kemin in developing its own vertically integrated rosemary program, the plant was mainly wild-harvested in southern Europe and North Africa.

“We quickly realized wild harvesting was not sustainable, and we needed to put a rosemary cropping system in place to improve biomass through plant breeding. Kemin developed one of the first rosemary-breeding programs, which took the plant from a Mediterranean evergreen shrub to a high-performance ‘phytochemical manufacturing plant,’” notes Greaves.

“Our scientists analyzed and selected the most potent lines of rosemary from around the globe,” says Greaves. “Then, our team used conventional plant-breeding methods to begin a continuous improvement program, which resulted in one of the largest collections of rosemary in the world.”

Demand for simple labels and natural ingredients has skyrocketed, and sustainability in ingredients continues to drive growth.

In light of transparency dominating consumer demand in 2021, increasing transparency to meet evolving ethical, environmental and clean label consumer demands is key. This is evidenced by Innova Market Insights’ Top Trend for this year: “Transparency Triumphs.”

Notably, the consumer lifestyle trend toward cleaner living is broadening and heightening expectations around what constitutes a clean label.

Kemin’s rosemary crops are SCS Sustainably Grown Certified by SCS Global, which recognizes leadership in environmental stewardship, social responsibility and economic stability.

“As we look to the future, Kemin continues to invest in innovation as our scientists and growers work together to discover new molecules for new natural antioxidants,” continues Greaves.

“We are actively developing new botanical sources of antioxidant molecules to complement rosemary-based formulations and are continually working with extraction and formulation methods to produce the most effective rosemary products.”

Last May, Kemin hailed rosemary as a front runner for extending shelf life.

The company has also explored alternative solutions to synthetic ingredients for preventing the loss of color and flavor while extending shelf life.

By Elizabeth Green


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