Aspects of plant stem cell integration in innovative foods

This topic was represented at the 79th International Scientific Conference of the University of Latvia by Ivo L─źdums ( Ltd. ILM / Ltd. NORDIC FOOD)

Fundamental changes in agricultural and food production are inevitable. High-intensity agriculture is already a huge burden on the environment. The environmental impact of plant products for human consumption is much lower than that of animal products.

In response to the above, there is a need to develop new technologies for the production of diverse and healthy food in order to reduce the negative environmental impact of agriculture, including greenhouse gas emissions and soil degradation. Similarly, consumers’ health concerns, individualization, and mobility have a significant impact on their behavior to food culture. Consumers are more willing to go into food production processes, product composition, origin, distribution, and consumption. Plant cell cultures offer various innovative solutions in this context and their integration in the food industry has so far been very little studied. The concept of plant cells as food offers a viable alternative to the production of healthy, protein-rich, and nutritionally balanced innovative foods.

The solution to the problem. One of the proposed solutions would be an effective study of the integration of plant products in the food industry. The use of plant cell products in the production of various innovative foods and beverages, which will be designed for consumer health, emotional well-being, and individualization, will create a new basis for the rapid development of these products. On a larger scale, in-depth research is already underway and the first experimental product groups from plant cell cultures are being produced as ingredients in food supplements. Another impetus for the use of plant cells as a food source is their nutritional parameters. There is a trend towards replacing animal protein with alternatives of plant origin, such as soya and various legumes. Plant cell media are chemically fully defined and consist mainly of inorganic constituents, so they are much less complex and less expensive than animal cell media. More and more appropriate plant biomass processing methods are envisaged soon. One example is the integration of lingonberry cell culture in various foods at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd. to demonstrate the wide range of uses of raw materials. Biscuits, extract, jelly are derived from lingonberry cell culture, they can also be used fresh and dried, and can also be transformed into an innovative product, such as lingonberry cell caviar. Mention should also be made of a study by the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) which investigated the possibility of Theobroma cacao callus and suspension cells as a cocoa ingredient in chocolate production. An active study on the integration of plant stem cells in drinking water is currently underway. All of these examples listed above are a major step towards in-depth research into the future and opportunities for further innovation.

Conclusions. Plant cell products are only just beginning to emerge and can positively restructure the entire food industry. It is, therefore, necessary to develop the development of innovative products in order to favorably change the taste, structure, and functionality of products. Food safety is essential. Adherence to internationally recognized methods is very important in the development of innovative products. This will allow reliable results to be obtained, which in turn will be further compiled and analyzed to ensure that it is a safe food for consumers and that it is brought into line with regulatory requirements.