Food, Global Health 3 min

Building food transitions with France 2030: launch of the "Ferments of the Future" Grand Challenge

PRESS RELEASE - On Monday 12 September, Sylvie Retailleau, Minister of Higher Education and Research, Marc Fesneau, Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, and Bruno Bonnell, Secretary General for Investment, launched the "Ferments of the Future" Grand Challenge alongside the project's pilots: INRAE and ANIA. Financed by the State to the tune of 48.3 million euros within the framework of France 2030, the Ferments of the Future Grand Challenge aims to mobilise natural fermentation techniques to accelerate the agricultural and food revolution in the service of healthy, sustainable and traceable food.

Published on 21 September 2022

illustration Building food transitions with France 2030: launch of the "Ferments of the Future" Grand Challenge

Fermented foods (such as bread, cheese, yoghurt, sauerkraut, wine, beer, etc.) offer many benefits thanks to the microorganisms (bacteria or yeast) naturally present in these foods, which feed on their sugars and water and release acid, gas or alcohol depending on the food and the ferment. In concrete terms, the acidification of food inhibits the growth of undesirable microorganisms, thus allowing for better preservation, and can have many associated benefits, such as providing vitamins and antioxidants and forming new flavours or beneficial effects on intestinal microbiota and health (via probiotics and lactic ferments).

At a time when consumption patterns are constantly evolving and consumers are looking for safer, healthier and more sustainable food, the virtues of ferments can provide multiple benefits including:

  • reinforcing the naturalness of food by limiting the use of additives (reduction of preservatives, stabilisers, flavourings, etc.)
  • improving the sensory properties of foods, including those of plant origin, in order to support the transition to more sustainable diets
  • optimising the nutritional profile of foods, by reducing sugar and salt content, and developing high-quality products for specific populations (children, the elderly, etc.)
  • maintaining or restoring a microbiota favourable to the health of the host, and developing new probiotics.

With this in mind, France 2030 is mobilising ferments as levers for the food of the future by funding a Ferments of the Future Grand Challenge to the tune of 48.3 million euros. This challenge will support scientists and companies in a collective approach to rolling out scientific and industrial projects based on the natural cycles of ferments. Together, they are expected to help position France among the leaders in this field of innovation and give French companies a competitive edge. 

In concrete terms, the Ferments of the Future Grand Challenge is a research and innovation platform that is unique in Europe, bringing together French food companies within ANIA (French national food industry association) and academic research of excellence led by INRAE. These two bodies, the programme's pilots, designed the Challenge as support for pre-competitive projects fully financed by the State, for R&D projects in partnership with companies, and as a support mechanism to give fledgling companies a boost. The next steps of Ferments of the Future are already lined up with the inauguration of a platform in Saclay in 2023 and the opening of a first call for research projects in early 2023.

"The Ferments of the Future Grand Challenge is the perfect example of the impact that research and innovation can have on our economic and industrial sectors. I am delighted that INRAE, in conjunction with several higher education and research establishments, is piloting this ambitious project with ANIA. It will enable the development of more diversified, sustainable, balanced and healthier diets.” Sylvie Retailleau, Minister for Higher Education and Research

"By definition based on the rhythms of nature, our agricultural and agri-food sectors have always been focused on innovation and food research. At a time when we are facing many challenges - climatic, agro-ecological, nutritional, economic, etc. - France 2030 must act as an accelerator of breakthrough innovation. This is the reason for the trust placed in INRAE and ANIA and embodied in the ‘Ferments of the Future’ Grand Challenge. This programme, unique in Europe, will combine the excellence of research in food, nutrition and health with that of our agri-food industry. Investing in Ferments of the Future means preparing the food that will be on the table tomorrow.” Marc Fesneau, Minister for Agriculture and Food Sovereignty

"The launch of the Ferments of the Future Grand Challenge is a crucial new step in the development of innovations to support the necessary food transitions and the management of global health, both for humans and the planet. By combining INRAE's research strengths with the expertise of ANIA and its members, we are giving ourselves every opportunity to respond to major issues to prepare the food of the future, both healthy and sustainable!Philippe Mauguin, Chair and CEO of INRAE

"ANIA and its companies have been working hard to make ferments and fermentation a national priority. It is the know-how of French companies but also their capacity to invest in the global market of sustainable and health-promoting food that has been recognised through the creation of this major challenge. In a very tense global context regarding the production of raw materials, France, a world agri-food leader, intends, with the support of INRAE, to play a role in feeding the planet and producing food that is accessible to everyone.” Jean-Philippe André, President of ANIA

Watch the replay of the press conference (in French)

From left to right: Mickaël Nogal, Sylvie Retailleau, Philippe Mauguin, Marc Fesneau, Damien Paineau.

Mickael Nogal, ANIA CEO (co-pilot of Ferments of the Future Grand Challenge); Sylvie Retailleau, Minister of Higher Education and Research; Philippe Mauguin, Chair and CEO of INRAE; Marc Fesneau, Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty; Damien Paineau, Executive Director of Ferments of the Future Grand Challenge.

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Launch of INRAE2030: strategic priorities for the next 10 years

PRESS RELEASE - The global challenges society is facing are giving rise to new expectations in research: climate change mitigation and adaptation, food and nutrition security, human health and wellbeing of the planet, agricultural transitions, protection of natural resources, biodiversity restoration, and disaster preparedness and management. In light of these challenges and avenues of transformation being paved by international experts, INRAE’s strategic road map for the next 10 years was jointly drawn up over the span of one year, with the input of many internal players and about a hundred national and international partners. One year after the creation of INRAE, this strategy was presented during an online press conference on Monday, 25 January 2021 by Philippe Mauguin, Chair and CEO of the Institute and members of the Management Board. Consisting of five scientific priorities and three policy priorities, the strategy offers solutions through research in the fields of agriculture, food and the environment.

24 January 2021