The Editor’s Brief: Asia’s first animal-free ice cream, Danish cookie innovation and the supermarket development job of a lifetime

Afternoon all! It’s all systems go here at PURE NPD this week, with our editorial calendar bristling with brilliant food trend, development and strategy features.

We’ve been on the blower to the founder of IncrEDIBLE spoons – a pioneering edible cutlery operation who make a range of sweet and savoury spoons made entirely of plant-based materials.

I’m also diving into manufacturing this week with The Natural Food and Drink Company.

We’ll have big news in terms of our trends section and another brilliant interview out by the end of the week. And it’s a big PURE NPD welcome to our new head of operations, Ashlee Waller, who’s wasting no time in getting to grips with our social media and brand strategy blueprints.

No rest for the wicked in general, basically.

As per normal, I’ve been scouring the web for interesting stories and there’s just loads to talk about, including a mad bit of SCOBY-centric kombucha science, Danish Christmas cookie innovation and a once-in-a-lifetime supermarket development job role appearing out of nowhere.

Are you the next Head of Product Development at M&S Food?

At the start of the weekend, Marks & Spencer’s food product director April Preston dropped a bombshell. The supermarket is now looking for a new Head of Product Development at M&S Food!

“Well these don’t come along very often!” April said on a LinkedIn post.

“I’m looking for a super talented individual who can help create and protect the M&S magic by leading the market in both quality and innovation. If you think you have what it takes we look forward to hearing from you.”

So far, the job listing on LinkedIn has received 79 applicants, with the social media platform blowing up with shocked and excited responses from the NPD community.

“As Head of Product Development your role will be to lead the product development team to formulate, direct and deliver a customer focused product development strategy that delivers to the Foods business strategy and hits the business targets,” reads the listing, which closes on February 12th 2021 at 11:55pm sharp.

Curiously, I haven’t heard from our head of NPD Ben today. I’m sure this golden opportunity hasn’t turned his head…

Igloo ice cream pairs with Perfect Day

Another Perfect Day for animal-free dairy

Hong Kong’s Igloo Dessert Bar has launched Asia’s first-ever animal-free ice cream, made with Perfect Day’s animal-free dairy proteins.

For those of you who don’t know, Perfect Day are a pioneering food tech company from California who bioengineer dairy microflora.

What they’ve managed to do is ‘program’ microflora with cow DNA to produce casein, which is the main protein found in milk and cheese, and also lactoglobulin and lactalbumin, which form the bulk of whey protein in milk.

Amazingly, products based on Perfect Day proteins can be technically vegan, seeing as there’s no actual animal involved.

Perfect Day are partnering up with a number of different companies to get their futuristic protein out there, with Igloo Dessert Bar the first in Asia. Last month, they announced a deal with US ice cream brand Nick’s.

The first tie-up came last August with The Urgent Company – a US-based food science and innovations operation – that was co-founded by Perfect Day and veteran entrepreneur Paul Kollesoff. They launched their a vegan dairy ice cream brand Brave Robot and PURE NPD was one of the first on the scene (it’s still one of my favourite articles).

I love a bit of mad science. Especially when it’s hugely significant.

Researchers lift a sheet of their material, a tough cellulose that can be embedded with enzymes or living cells. Credit: Tzu-Chieh (Zijay) Tang

MIT create ‘living materials’ from kombucha

Talking of mad science, engineers at MIT and Imperial College London have developed a new way to generate tough, functional materials using a mixture of bacteria and yeast similar to the ‘kombucha mother’ used to ferment tea.

I found the story via to Dr Johnny Drain’s Instagram feed (aka the Walter White of flavour, ferments, food design).

“Using this mixture, also called a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), the researchers were able to produce cellulose embedded with enzymes that can perform a variety of functions, such as sensing environmental pollutants,” reads an article on the official MIT website.

“They also showed that they could incorporate yeast directly into the material, creating ‘living materials’ that could be used to purify water or to make ‘smart’ packaging materials that can detect damage.

“The bacteria in the culture produce large-scale quantities of tough cellulose to serve as a scaffold. The researchers designed their system so that they can control whether the yeast themselves, or just the enzymes that they produce, are incorporated into the cellulose structure.

“It takes only a few days to grow the material, and if left long enough, it can thicken to occupy a space as large as a bathtub.”

The research was funded, in part, by the U.S. Army Research Office, the MIT Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, and the MIT-MISTI MIT-Imperial College London Seed Fund.

Am I the only one thinking Flubber?

Just Egg Sous Vide bites

Just Egg Sous Vide bites

American plant-based company Eat Just have announced a team up with Cuisine Solutions – a manufacturer of sous vide foods – to produce a product called Just Egg Sous Vide bites.

Available in the US from March, the bites are made with mung bean protein and will be available in the freezer section.

They will come in four flavours: America (roasted potato, dill, chives, red bell pepper and black pepper); India (curry, broccoli, cauliflower, coconut milk and lemongrass); Japan (portobello mushrooms, yams, togarashi, soy and tamari); and Mexico (roasted poblanos, chipotle chile powder, black beans, corn and lime).

These bites are said to contain between 9-13g of protein per serving and are also free of cholesterol. They are non-GMO, dairy-free and contain no artificial flavours.

The packaging’s pretty cool too. Very 2021.

Nordic cookies with oyster?

Ever heard of Gode råd? Me neither. Turns out it’s a traditional Danish Christmas cookie.

Why am I talking about a Christmas cookie in February? Because 50 Best Tastehunter Anders Husa just had one at Restaurant Lyst in Vejle.

According to Husa, the chef there, Daniel Mcburnie, serves the cookie as “a double decker tostada filled with Limfjord oysters, pickled crown dill, grilled cabbage, and oyster emulsion.”

Nothing like a bit of Nordic to get those creative juices flowing.

Tom Gatehouse
Tom is the editor of Pure NPD Insights. He previously spent three years at William Reed’s food insight platform Food Spark, was the co-founder and editor of The Cream, is a former Restaurant magazine columnist and has had chef training in fifty of the best restaurants in the UK and Europe.

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