Making the connection with biotech and food science

Participants in the USDA NIFA sponsored Science of Food and Fuel workshop heard from industry experts at Benson Hill, a crop improvement company working to develop healthier and more sustainable food and ingredients. Benson Hill uses CropOS, a technology platform that enables greater control and precision in plant breeding. Digital technology helps develop prototype products in a shorter time than ever before—4 years rather than 15.

Benson Hill has developed ultra-high protein soybeans to provide higher protein content in food and beverage products. They can develop plant varieties with the specific properties desired for flavor and sensory functionality as well. Specialized beans mean less water is necessary for processing at the crush plant, promoting sustainability.

“Conversations around food and sustainability are close to everyone’s wallets,” Melanie Bernds, director of communications, commented. “People are reading labels and asking where their food is coming from. Their purchasing habits are changing.”

Jason Lombardi, Director of Food Engineering and Commercial Applications, of commercial applications, said, “We are working to understand consumer needs and match them with our products. There are so many careers related to food quality and food science, research, analytical chemistry, evaluating market needs and materials. Here at Benson Hill, we will need more engineers as our manufacturing expands, as well as logistics people.”