Primarily based in Lviv – the architecturally-rich metropolis in western Ukraine – ExtraCell’s product portfolio contains yeast extracts, inactive yeasts, and autolyzed yeast.
ExtraCell belongs to Enzym Group, a significant firm in Ukraine with a historical past relationship again to 1870. The corporate is a pacesetter within the manufacturing of yeast for the home market and exports about 40% of its merchandise to 13 European nations.
In 2019, Enzym took the strategic resolution to remodel from a yeast firm right into a biotech firm and the ExtraCell model was born.
Within the autumn 2022 it launched an in-house high-end manufacturing website for ExtraCell merchandise subsequent to its current premises in Lviv. ExtraCell’s yeast elements are used to enhance flavour in a variety of merchandise, together with condiments, sauces, seasonings, snacks, processed meat, plant-based options to meat and fish, on the spot meals and prepared meals.
“Our core enterprise is promoting yeast to bakeries throughout Belgium, Holland, Germany and Central and Jap Europe,” defined Serhii Lavrov, Enzym Industrial Director.
“When it comes to fundamental yeast manufacturing, we’re one of many greatest unbiased producers in Europe, with 50,000 tonnes of fermentation capability. From this 50,000 tonnes we are able to produce contemporary yeast, dry yeast or yeast-based extracts.”
In the intervening time, 70% of its manufacturing is geared to creating contemporary yeast. However it plans to boost its manufacturing of yeast-based extracts. Yeasts have been utilized in conventional biotechnology for manufacturing of fermented meals and drinks for 1000’s of years. Talking with FoodNavigator on the current FiE commerce occasion in Paris, Lavrov stated the corporate had noticed rising curiosity in fermented elements from Europe’s meals producers looking for more healthy and extra sustainable options.
“Individuals right here [at FiE] are very it as a result of it’s a difficult trade which is breaking the principles within the meals trade. What we see is the habits of individuals altering, and this new biotech trade may help make meals extra wholesome, safer and sustainable.”
There are challenges on this house, nonetheless. Value is one. “Once we suggest the merchandise from fermentation individuals typically say it is too costly,” admitted Lavrov, earlier than itemizing the dietary and practical advantages of yeast extracts as a meals ingredient.
The extracts present an umami flavour that’s long-lasting and wealthy, he defined. The know-how of manufacturing defines the flavour traits of yeast extracts: savoury, tacky, yeasty, or meaty. It’s a pure supply of glutamic acid that gives a wealthy, savoury style. Yeast extracts ideally masks the disagreeable flavours and assist to decrease salt and sugar content material and are a clear label various to MSG.
“Fermentation prospects are unbelievable as a result of contained in the yeast cell you’ve gotten beta glucans, omega saccharides and different wholesome polysaccharides,” Lavrov stated.
One of many firm’s tie-ups is with Kyiv-based plant-based meat firm Eat Me At, which is utilizing ExtraCell’s yeast extract to deliver umami notes to its product. “With out the yeast extract it would not have any style,” an organization spokesperson stated. “These extracts give the best style that you simply recognise. It additionally has aftertaste.”
The opposite problem is the necessity to modify merchandise to the wants of shoppers. “Yeast extract shouldn’t be about simply the product,” defined Lavrov. “It’s about providing options for the meals trade.”
Different options provided by ExtraCell, for instance, embrace flavour enhancement, off-note masking, enchancment of dietary profile, and clean-label options. These options are backed with a pilot manufacturing line, sensory panel, and accomplice community of outstanding meals consultants and establishments. “We wish to be extra versatile than our rivals and the extra particular in our options,” Lavrov instructed us.
Underneath the shadow of aggression
There’s one other evident problem the corporate faces. All its innovation and up to date manufacturing unit opening has occurred underneath the shadow of battle.
Lviv is within the far west of Ukraine, simply 70 kilometres from the Polish border. Its notoriously fairly structure (the historic centre has been a UNESCO World Heritage Website since 1998) is extra like Vienna or Krakow than Kyiv.
Town turned a key haven for Ukrainians fleeing these components of the nation affected by the invasion. It has witnessed its fair proportion of struggling too and has been the goal of missile strikes as Russia has stepped up assaults on Ukraine’s power infrastructure within the run as much as winter.
“In fact, it is a unprecedented expertise and state of affairs,” stated Lavrov as he recounted the choice of the corporate administrators to re-locate their weekly Monday assembly to inside a bomb shelter.
“The alarms can occur at any time because the Russians have tried to hit our power system. We have purchased highly effective two-megawatt mills which might assist our manufacturing even when we now have complete blackout in Ukraine.”
His coping mechanism, he instructed us, has been to plough his efforts into the enterprise. “We’ve been doing all we are able to to assist our manufacturing and our workers,” he stated.
Round 50 of Enzym’s 370-strong Lviv-based workers left the nation and now work remotely, for instance. Some workers now in Lviv have fled from components of Ukraine now underneath Russian occupation.
“We’ve tailored; modified the logistics; modified the principles inside the corporate. Encouraging individuals to suppose extra flexibly in a fast-changing state of affairs is the primary motive we have survived.”
Round 90% of the corporate’s uncooked elements, in the meantime, are sourced from Ukraine. “That is difficult as a result of some producers are underneath occupation, some producers are underneath bombing and had their premises ruined.”
Amid this, the corporate continues to innovate and develop new merchandise. It could launch its personal fermented merchandise, for instance.
“When you find yourself on this horrible state of affairs you want day-to-day routine,” noticed the Industrial Director. “What we attempt to do throughout the firm is to focus on day-to-day routine. In fact, we all know all of the information. However it is advisable to take into consideration the day-to-day routine; not in regards to the horror during which you’re [in]. Contained in the nation we try to do the most effective.”
Tuesday December 20 marked the three hundredth day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Once more, this can be a indisputable fact that Lavrov and his group shouldn’t be pondering.
“In Ukraine, we did not anticipate what occurred,” he defined. “We learn the specialists saying it’s going to go this manner, it’s going to go that approach. However we now have no alternative. We do not wish to be underneath the Russians. We’ll battle to the top. We hope and consider that the entire world will assist us. I do not know what’s going to occur… it is laborious to consider it. Russians will strike for so long as they’ll, they haven’t any sentiments about this. We try to not to consider it as a result of it will likely be long-term. However day after day routine, making yeast, sending them to bakeries, making bread – it helps us rather a lot.”
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