Open Innovation Generates Novel Uses for a Natural Citrus Fiber
Food concept employs a natural fiber as a fat blocker in fried seafood. The results are cost savings and reduced fat and calories by using less oil.
Fiberstar, United States
Nobody knows where the next big idea is going to come from. Allowing all stakeholders and interested parties to get involved in brainstorming, ideation and innovation, and not just the R&D department can be hugely beneficial to businesses.
Increasing the talent pool from which ideas are drawn from can identify new customer needs and wants, create better ways to innovate, generate cost savings, lead to greater insights into consumers, products and markets and result in brilliant new solutions.
When biotechnology company Fiberstar was looking for new uses for Citri-Fi 125, a natural citrus fiber, it decided to try an open innovation approach and launched a global contest for students.
Natural Citrus Fiber
Citri-Fi 125 is a natural citrus fiber derived from citrus pulp, a byproduct of the orange juicing process. The natural fiber contains protein, lipid and soluble and insoluble fiber and is used by the food and beverage industry in meats, dairy, sauce food applications and more. Among its many benefits are moisture retention, yield improvements and gelling properties.
As today’s consumers are seeking food products that are clean, simple and natural, Fiberstar is keen to know where and how else Citri-Fi 125 can be used.
Novel Food Concepts
Participants of the open innovation contest were asked for food concepts that could be scaled up for global commercial distribution. And a panel of judges assessed their applications based on market need, originality of concepts, ingredient commercial feasibility and technical feasibility. Several prize winners were announced:
The first prize and a check for $10,000 was awarded to a team from Oregon State University Seafood Research and Education Center, U.S., for their concept of citrus fiber as a fat blocker in fried seafood. Using it in a coating formulation reduces oil pick-up which in turn means companies don’t have to spend as much on oil usage. It also gives them a chance to reduce fat and calories.
In second place was a team from Surya University, Indonesia for their concept of reduced fat instant laksa paste. The idea is to use Citri-Fi 125 to reduce the amount of coconut milk in laksa paste, which will result in cost savings and fat reduction. The team was awarded $5,000.
The judges also awarded prizes of $2,500 each to third, fourth, fifth and sixth place winners. Among them was a suggestion to use Citri-Fi 125 for emulsification stabilization and texturizing in chicken sausage to help reduce the oil by up to 30% while maintaining a full-fat mouth feel.
Following the announcement of the results, Fiberstar said that it "looks forward to connecting with Universities and students in the future to continue the collaboration."
Open Innovation Advantages
Like many such open innovation competitions, the exercise was a win-win for all involved. The biotech company received a raft of brilliant ideas that it may not have come up with on its own, plus it was introduced to range of bright new talents. Meanwhile, participants were given a platform for their ideas and opportunities to create food ingredient solutions with real-world applications.
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