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Dehydration Technology Aims to Provide Nutritional Food at Scale, Reduce Food Waste

The U.S. is the global leader in food waste, with Americans discarding nearly 40 million tons of food every year. That equates to more than $161 billion, approximately 219 pounds of waste per person, and 30-40% of the U.S. food supply.

With COVID-19 amplifying the need to make access to affordable, nutrient-dense, disease-fighting and readily available food products on a global scale a reality, San Francisco-based Treasure8, a technology company utilizing regenerative methods to provide food at scale, announced its partnership with PA Consulting, based in London, UK, to help reduce food insecurity and create a better global food system.

“Part of what we call our ‘Resource Revolution’ is building an advanced network of global partnerships that help transform the food system systematically and fulfill our purpose to deploy nutrition for humanity,” says Timothy Childs, founder and co-CEO of Treasure8. “Not only do these partnerships allow us to scale our technology faster, but they also enable us to bring our nutrient-dense, disease-preventing whole-foods nutrition solutions to those that need it most. And because PA Consulting has such a vast stretch and reach both geographically and expertise-wise, this partnership in particular will let us push our impact in ways we had only imagined before.”

According to Wil Schoenmakers, global head of consumer products and manufacturing at PA Consulting, the company is proud of its collaboration with Treasure8 to create a better global food system.

“This technology will provide access to healthy, nutritious food to underserved communities in the U.S. and across the world,” he says. “Dried fruit is a very interesting snacking format. Fruit snacking is growing rapidly as an alternative to chips. Part of the uniqueness of Treasure8’s product is that the taste and nutrition of the fruit is preserved at a low cost compared to other drying processes. The Treasure8 product keeps its taste, the texture still feels like fruit, and most importantly it’s keeping its nutritional value.”

PA is helping Treasure8 scale up in two ways.

“Firstly, through our core engineering and food science capability and the understanding of how to guide and design the scale up process,” he says. “At the moment, Treasure8 has a pilot scale operation that needs to be scaled up for large customers. It’s a challenge as working at a small scale is different compared to working at a large scale. PA brings the knowledge to make sure the equipment can scale appropriately and the outputs and quality are just as good when mass produced. PA will also ensure a scalable solution can be delivered on accelerated timings.”

Second, PA has connections across the consumer products industry and is familiar with the growth strategies of the world’s many leading CPGs. PA can support Treasure8 in making the right connections to boost commercialization at scale.

“PA is expert in end-to-end innovation, with a strong track record in leading partnerships with start-ups and manufacturers to accelerate new technologies to market. Our robust science, technology and engineering capabilities ensure that the high quality is maintained as the output is scaled up,” says Schoenmakers. “For instance, heat will move differently in a small batch than in a larger batch, the fruit will react differently as you dry more at the same time. We make sure the science and engineering are correctly scaled. PA also understands the strategy of food companies and we know how to fit new technologies and products into the portfolio. The key to this program is our access to CPGs in our network.”

In partnership with the USDA, Treasure8 has developed its SAUNA dehydration technology, which is capable of preserving more nutritional value of dried food products than conventionally used methods, and can also upcycle surplus produce and food.

“Our relationship with the USDA is another example of a successful public/private partnership. We deeply appreciate our collaboration and enjoy bringing some of the great government-funded research and technologies to market,” says Childs. “We continue to work closely together to exclusively commercialize some of the USDA’s game-changing patented technologies.”

SAUNA is a suite of dehydration technologies that were created and patented by the USDA that have been commercialized and are now ready to scale worldwide.

“For us, it is key in cracking the code to providing access to build health and fight disease by democratizing access to whole food nutrition. It is a low energy, clean burning process that dehydrates organic material faster, better and also with a smaller carbon footprint,” says Childs. “It has incredible uses for upcycling all kinds of inputs (especially food waste streams) and the impact potential when it comes to sustainability and nutrition security is mind boggling. We've begun to work with major corporations on improving their ingredients and products, which when scaled, can really be beneficial from a planet, health and business perspective.”

Childs says Treasure8’s SAUNA technology is able to preserve more nutrition compared to conventional methods.

“The low energy process not only is a kill step, which is vital for food safety, but allows us to remove water quickly from the foodstuff, and stops the process that promotes oxidation of bio actives, while leaving superior color and taste,” he says. “We maintain a superior cellular structure leaving a better crunch, less color bleed and very limited leaching out of micronutrients. Further, many of our dehydration processes are gentle as possible for higher micronutrient retention. As a result, our products taste and look better, and are safer, healthier and better for the planet.”

COVID-19 specifically has made it clear that more than ever, the world needs more affordable, sustainable and nutrient whole food options in order to fight off disease, according to Childs.

“We are observing a ‘quadri-crises’ (health, economic, climate and social justice) which, taken together, have greatly amplified the extent to which the system is broken, and the need to act now, there is no time to waste,” he says. “We have both a need and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a better system for our planet, people’s health, and our prosperity. Knowing we have a key technology (SAUNA) that can help many is exciting. But it is simultaneously frustrating to see that more isn't being done right now, and we are driven to help.”

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