AUSTRIA – Austria-based Kern Tec has secured US$12.7 million in funding to support the production and commercialization of sustainable ingredients derived from upcycled stone fruit pits, including those from apricots, plums, and cherries.
The company plans to upscale its operations and focus on formulating ingredients for plant-based dairy products, non-dairy drinks, yogurt, ice cream, desserts, and cheese as part of its strategy to reduce food waste by upcycling stone fruit pits.
Currently, approximately 500,000 metric tons of stone fruit pits are sent to landfills each year in Europe alone.
Michael Beitl, co-founder and managing director at Kern Tec, highlighted that upcycling food waste presents a unique opportunity for companies to achieve social, sustainable, and economic benefits.
He highlighted the company’s goal to bring non-standardized raw materials, which are often treated as waste, into the mainstream by creating standardized ingredients that meet international quality standards.
He noted that one of the challenges faced was the presence of cyanide in stone fruit seeds, a potentially toxic compound.
To address this issue, the company developed a technology that reduces cyanide levels to a safe level, allowing its ingredients to be used in food products like other standard ingredients.
Kern Tec extracts valuable oils and proteins from stone fruit pits and formulates base compounds for plant-based dairy products.
The company sources its kernels from the fruit industry, including jam and juice manufacturers across Europe, and plans to expand its procurement to Africa, Asia, and the US in the future.
The US$12.7 million investment, led by Telos Impact and featuring participation from the PeakBridge Growth 2 fund and the European Innovation Council (EIC) Fund, will support Kern Tec’s global expansion efforts and the development of more products derived from stone fruit seeds.
Meanwhile, Kern Tec has also secured significant grants from local and international sources.
The company’s stone fruit processing aims to rescue pits from landfills and contributes to reducing food waste.
This aligns with consumers’ growing interest in environmental considerations and waste reduction in the food industry, as evidenced by Innova Market Insights’ data showing that a significant portion of consumers want food businesses to focus on waste reduction and consider environmental factors in new product development.
Additionally, Kern Tec plans to allocate approximately US$4.2 million to research and development activities in the coming years, with a continued focus on the plant-based food sector to combat food waste.
Michael Beitl expressed confidence in the future of upcycling and indicated that once the mission involving apricot, cherry, and plum kernels is complete, new opportunities in the sustainability space may emerge.