This week Swiss flavor giant Givaudan announced it has partnered with synthetic biology platform company Ginkgo Bioworks to develop a new series of ingredients.
According to the announcement, Givaudan will “leverage Ginkgo’s long-established expertise in enabling companies to develop bio-based products to produce a number of innovative and sustainable ingredients through fermentation.”
Ginkgo Bioworks, which gained a national profile over the past year for its work to help accelerate the development of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, will use the same fermentation expertise and synthetic biology “foundry” that Moderna used to help Givaudan map the growth pathways of potential new ingredients. Ginkgo’s fermentation platform, which utilizes a bioreactor system called the Sartorius ambr250, leverages automation to run hundreds of benchtop bioreactors to accelerate the optimization process. According to the announcement, Givaudan will use this system to explore potential scale-up paths for numerous ingredients, including “those that are only available in minute quantities in nature.”
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Givaudan, the world’s largest flavor and fragrance conglomerate, would embrace synthetic biology as new terrain to explore for flavor development. Flavor companies are, at their core, ingredient hunters, employing armies of scouts and trend watchers around the world to identify new flavors as they emerge. Synthetic biology represents a new way to extract potentially exotic flavors and bring them to market faster in a way that was not possible before.
At first glance, one might ask why Givaudan partnered with Ginkgo and not Motif Foodworks, Ginkgo’s plant-based ingredient spinout. The answer lies in the fact the partnership is centered largely around Ginkgo’s precision fermentation platform, which even Motif relies on for development and scale-up optimization of new ingredients. Ginkgo also makes sense since the partnership goes beyond just food ingredients, as the two will also develop ingredients for other industries such as cosmetics and perfumes.