Food and beverage solutions
VTT’s food and beverage research and development work enables the transition towards smart and sustainable food system. The spearheads of our innovation services are plant-based ingredient and food design, cellular agriculture and precision fermentation, as well as bioprocessing technologies for improved process performance and end product quality.
We create innovative technologies for appealing, healthy and safe plant-based ingredients and foods.
We use predictive modelling and measurement tools to improve efficiency in ingredient and food design and to optimise food production and processing.
On this page
We help our partners in the transition towards a sustainable food system. Our goal is to develop tailored food and beverage solutions that have reduced environmental impact and support individual wellbeing.
Our R&D services focus on innovations that make it possible to use diverse plant-based raw materials to develop new foods and to create safe products for consumers. We harness biotechnology for renewal and improvement of food processes by biotechnical food production, i.e., cellular agriculture, and bioprocessing technologies. We develop data-driven food processes and services that are based on cross-industry innovations and generate new business opportunities.
Sustainable food solutions of the future
Our vision is that the use of new plant-based food processes and products will lead to a 30% reduction in the consumption of animal protein per capita in Europe by 2027. By 2035, we expect that cellular agriculture and precision fermentation-based products will be an established dietary nutrient source on a global scale, and personalised food manufacturing will become common.
In 2027 we aim to have increased the use of new plant-based food processes and products leading to a 30% reduction in the consumption of animal protein per capita in Europe.
Plant-based food and beverage solutions
VTT has profound knowledge on plant-based ingredients and food design, as well as development of fermented beverages. Our expertise covers everything from raw material understanding to end product innovations. We have facilities from lab to pilot-scale, including comprehensive analytical platforms, such as sensory analysis and in vitro models.
We provide our customers with a full range of food innovation and development services for plant-based food solutions including:
- Developing ingredient and food technologies for diverse raw materials and valorisation of side-streams (e.g. cereal brans, oil press-cakes, spent grains) to develop appealing, safe, and affordable dairy and meat alternatives.
- Unique separation technologies and bioprocessing expertise as well as exceptional food pilot equipment to develop new alternative food products.
- Development of hybrid food products with fish, meat or biotechnologically produced ingredients to create the desired sensory experience.
- Pilot malting and brewing facilities to optimise the use of raw materials, fermentative organisms, and process conditions. Our facilities are also well-suited for the production of new flavourful beverages.
Case Viking Malt: creating a new proteinaceous plant-based raw material
Viking Malt, the world's ninth largest producer of malt, turned to VTT to support and speed up its process of developing a new plant-based raw material using legumes. In the project, Viking Malt and VTT developed a way to eliminate substances that cause bloating and flatulence in some people, and to dry a bean to make the taste considerably less bitter and ‘bean-like’. This way, the new raw material became more suitable for use in different products, such as yoghurts.
Biotechnology and bioprocesses in food production
VTT offers versatile expertise in industrial biotechnology that allows us to harness microbes and enzymes for food and beverage development as well as transition to cellular agriculture. Our services include development of microbes and enzymes from design and screening to pilot-scale production and application testing. We utilise our top-level strain development and engineering tools.
Using biotechnology and bioprocesses we focus on:
- Creating novel cellular agriculture solutions. We develop technologies to exploit microbial and cell culture biomass as food (single cell protein, plant cells) and ingredient (e.g. protein, lipids, pigments) production by precision fermentation.
- Providing benefits to our clients by using our extensive culture collection with multiple strains of bacteria, yeasts, fungi, and plant cell cultures.
- Harnessing enzymes and microbes as key tools in improving production and modification of ingredients and food design.
- Offering multifunctional starter mixtures as a tool to produce novel products with desired nutritional and technological properties. We use a range of non-GM development techniques to create improved strains applicable in food and beverage (including brewing) processes.
Solar Foods – out-of-the-box research leads to a successful spin-off that makes food out of thin air
Solar Foods has developed a way to produce a nutrient-rich protein called Solein by using fermentation, air and electricity. The company got its start as a research project carried out by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and LUT University, but it has since grown into a successful start-up with more than 20 employees.
"VTT provided us with the foundation upon which we build our success. They gave us the opportunity and the framework to create a successful proof of concept and turned us into experts at what we do." - Pasi Vainikka, CEO of Solar Foods
Agile food design
We offer multidisciplinary expertise that aggregates and analyses big data from R&D, suppliers, manufacturers, and consumers to enable the development of innovative food manufacturing processes and services. We focus on smart ingredient and food design, both for plant and cellular agriculture -based solutions, by using modelling and data analytics combined with new measurement technologies.
With our approach, we integrate agility into the R&D and industrial production processes to improve both resource and cost efficiency and advance circular bioeconomy practices. We combine information and sensing technologies into automated processing units to develop personalised solutions for unique eating experiences.
Our agile food design expertise includes:
- Innovative sensing technologies for collecting information from the environment, processes, products and packaging, and people.
- Data mining and analysis to boost process efficiency and efficacy especially in designing new animal alternative ingredients and foods
- Developing predictive modelling and measurement tools for ingredient and food design
- Designing new, personalised personalised food production and services concepts to promote individual wellbeing. For example, on-demand customised snack production (baked, spoonable, and drinkable).
Safety throughout the food system - securing microbiological safety of food
VTT’s solid understanding of the microbiomes, behaviour of microbes and food matrices, as well as factors affecting product safety serve as the basis of our food safety development work.
- Our main objective is to measure, understand, and control microbes and their interactions in various processes to achieve more controlled process management and improved food safety. We apply various conventional microbiological methods and molecular approaches to study the complexity, behaviour, and activity of microbial populations in raw materials as well as during processing and in the final products.
- We have expertise in process hygiene development, e.g., the optimisation of biofilm disinfection control procedures and the development of process hygiene solutions for our customers.
- VTT has expertise in combining various traditional food processing methods with biological processing methods. Microbial starters and protective cultures have been combined with other alternatives such as heat treatment, modified atmosphere, and natural preservatives to improve food safety and products’ shelf-life.
See our whitepapers:
- Plant proteins from Finland, 2022 (Sözer, Honkapää, Riihinen)
- Opportunities and challenges of new disruptive food production methods in Finland: Qualitative analysis carried out by a Finnish network of experts, 2022 (Niemi, J. K., Nordlund, E., Pastell, M., Ritala, A., Kotilainen, T., Katajajuuri, J-M., Nappa, M. & Lampinen, M.)
Meet our experts
Emilia Nordlund has over 15 years of experience in developing innovative food technologies. She specializes in plant based ingredient technologies as well as cellular agriculture solutions
Nesli Sözer has more than 20 years expertise on food material science and food ingredient/product design. She specialises in sustainable ingredient production technologies focusing on plant proteins, dietary fibre, design of meat and dairy analogues.
Hanna-Leena Alakomi has over 25 years of experience in food safety and applied microbiolgy. Her recent research includes management of harmful microbes, natural antimicrobial compounds and bioprocessing.
Related projects and ecosystems
EIT Food accelerates innovation to build a future-fit food system that produces healthy and sustainable food for all.
Food & Beyond sits creative thinkers and enablers at the same table to create impactful food solutions for now and tomorrow.
Protein cluster in Finland is a joint project aimed at strengthening growth in the development and production of domestic plant-based protein products.
How to work with us
When it comes to food applications, there are many ways to utilise our expertise.
Tell us about your needs and challenges, and we will figure out the best way to tackle them together. No project is too small or too ambitious – we would love to hear from you. After the initial assessment, we can choose how to proceed with you project.
In the food and beverage industry, every research case is unique, and we’re happy to tailor our services to your needs. You will get full ownership of the intellectual property rights of any project we undertake together.
We frequently participate in research and development projects with multiple business partners and funding agencies. In cooperative projects the risk is split between multiple organisations and everyone benefits from the results.
Our networks at your disposal
We have extensive national, European ang global networks within food research and industry, and we are happy to put you in touch with the ideal sparring and development partner.