Bacon flavoring from plants?

Eco-friendly natural chemicals manufacturer Blue Marble found a way (and it’s vegan)

Bacon. It’s flavor is so beloved that it has become a social icon; there are nearly as many memes about bacon as there are cats. The taste of bacon is so widely craved that artificial bacon flavoring has been added to a number of foods, including the treats we give our pets.

Traditionally, these chemical flavorings were anything but natural, but an eco-friendly company has found a way to produce an all-natural version that’s turning heads—and taste buds.

Blue Marble Biomaterials, a biotech company in Missoula, Montana, can use more than a dozen different types of organic waste—including spent coffee grounds and the skin, pulp, seeds, and stems of tomatoes and grapes—to produce an all-natural bacon flavoring! The bacon product is officially known as bacon dithiazine, and it’s organic, vegan, kosher, and non-GMO. The patented scientific process by which the bacon flavoring is produced boils down to a fermentation process that uses certain types of bacteria under tightly controlled conditions.

The demand for natural versions of popular flavorings is exploding, and bacon dithiazine is just one of dozens of specialty chemicals that can be produced from organic waste. Blue Marble Biomaterials, as the leader of this niche industry, has developed methods for using waste from the food, agricultural, forestry, and beverage industries to produce a wide range of commercially valuable natural chemicals. These chemicals include esters, carboxylic acids, thioesters, and sulfur compounds.

So how is Blue Marble shaking things up?

They’re partnering with companies to help them generate additional revenue by repurposing the business’s existing organic waste. Here are the top three advantages of these partnerships:

  • The products can be fully sourced: Chemicals are found in over 95% of the products we use on a daily basis. Before companies like Blue Marble Biomaterials came along, manufacturers had to resort to chemicals derived from crude oil–or “petro-chemicals”. In recent years, consumers have begun rejecting these artificial chemicals as potentially dangerous to their health, which has led food manufacturers to work consciously to eliminate artificial ingredients so they can be proud to share with consumers what’s in the foods they’re eating.

Natural chemicals are an ideal alternative to artificial ones, as the ingredients used to make natural versions of chemicals like bacon dithiazine can be sourced back to plant materials. Which one do you think consumers prefer?

  • The products are made using green chemistry processes: “Green chemistry” refers to the ability to carry out manufacturing processes without generating hazardous byproducts and impacting the environment. Big chemical manufacturers like Dow Chemical cannot meet green chemistry standards as they use petroleum as their starting material, but biochemicals produced from organic waste easily exceed these standards. In fact, the production process is a fully carbon-neutral one, meaning there’s no negative environmental impact at all. Businesses can and should be proud to say they abide by green chemistry manufacturing principles in converting their waste into resources.
  • These products have real commercial value: Businesses spend considerable time and resources installing energy-efficient equipment and appliances, trying to use fewer paper products, recycling as much as possible, incentivizing employee carpools, and so forth. But if your business produces organic waste, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity that can actually make money. The market for specialty chemicals like all-natural bacon flavoring is exploding, and you can ride this wave and literally convert your trash into cash.

With thousands of chemical agents used to flavor our foods, it’s just a matter of time before biotech companies like Blue Marble Biomaterials develop all-natural alternative versions of more and more of them. The environmental and economic factors that are driving this innovation are strong.

Consumers want products that can be fully sourced back to natural raw materials and they want to know that their products are manufactured using environmentally sustainable processes.

Photo by shawnzam