Novozymes collaborates with Meihua Group on biomass-to-chemicals research

Companies to collaborate on turning cotton stalks and corn stover into food additives.

Novozymes, the world leader in bioinnovation, today signed a Framework Agreement with Meihua Group, a China-based agricultural processor, to jointly develop an enzymatic process turning various agricultural residues into sugar, followed by fermentation to produce amino acids for food additives. If successful, Meihua Group will target to produce glutamic acid, lysine, and threonine, three amino acids commonly used as flavor enhancers and nutritional supplements.

"The intended collaborative research with Meihua Group is another stage in our journey toward a bio-based society in which fossil oil can be substituted by renewable and environmentally friendly energy from biomass,” says Poul Ruben Andersen, Vice President Bioenergy at Novozymes. "Sun and photosynthesis not only provide us with food, but are also sources of energy and materials. In the last few years Novozymes has forged research partnerships with Braskem for biomass-to-plastics, Dacheng for biomass-to-glycols, and now we have decided to link up with Meihua for biomass-to-food additives.”

Food demand growing rapidly in China
China is the world’s largest consumer of monosodium glutamate (MSG), a common flavor enhancer, with consumption of around 1.8 million tons per year. Meihua Group, with USD 800 million in fixed assets and 13,000 employees, is a famous brand in China accounting for one fifth of the MSG market. Meihua is now attempting to diversify its raw material supplies for production of MSG and other major amino acids.

"China is developing so fast that the demand for food has outpaced the increase in food supplies,” says Meng Qingshan, Chairman of Meihua Group. "Since our foundation in 2002, Meihua has sustained strong growth and has now reached 0.4 million tons of MSG capacity. The availability of raw materials will soon be a bottleneck if we cannot diversify the feedstock supplies. I’m happy that Novozymes, a respected enzymatic solution provider, shares the vision of converting agricultural waste into valuable products and has the capabilities to deliver innovative enzyme solutions. The collaboration will innovate our way of producing food ingredients and nutrition products, and I look forward to seeing the results.”

"Meihua and Novozymes have a long cooperation history, and we have been impressed with Meihua’s capabilities in turning good ideas into much needed products for the market,” says Michael Christiansen, President of Novozymes China. "With this Framework Agreement I believe that our collaboration reaches a new level and that our competencies will generate interesting possibilities.”