KANSAS CITY — Taste often becomes an issue when formulating products with plant-based protein or reduced sugar. In both cases, fermentation is proving valuable, and in some cases cost-effective, when used with beets, mushrooms and other plants.

Florida Food Products, Eustis, Fla., uses a lactic acid fermentation process that lowers the sugar content in beet juice by about 10%, said Christopher Naese, vice-president of business development.

“The result is a clean label ingredient with a fresh flavor and light sweetness coupled with beet’s inherent health benefits,” Mr. Naese said. “Fermented beet juice is an opportunity to offer on-trend label benefits for health-conscious consumers while delivering appealing taste attributes along with lower sugar content and a simple label declaration.”

Besides lowering sugar content, the fermentation process also lowers the beet juice’s pH, which results in a brighter flavor with red berry notes and a less earthy taste, he said.

“A wide range of foods and beverages can be formulated with fermented beet juice to give them memorable, acidic notes that appeal to consumers’ ever-expanding flavor preferences,” Mr. Naese said. “Though long established in Eastern European, African and Asian cuisines, fermented flavors have only recently captured American consumers’ taste interest, and while there appears to be widespread interest in fermented foods and beverages, this trend toward global flavors is driven mainly by adults under 40 years old.”

Fermenting beet juice preserves the nitrates in the juice, he said. The body metabolizes nitrates into nitric oxide, which has been shown to dilate blood vessels, lower blood pressure and improve overall blood flow.

MycoTechnology, Aurora, Colo., uses fermentation to create its PureTaste plant-based protein ingredients that address off-flavors and aromas in plant proteins. Fermenting pea protein and rice protein with shiitake mushroom mycelia (roots) improves taste and texture, decreases aroma, and increases solubility and functionality, according to the company. Third-party sensory analysis indicated an 18% decrease in overall aroma, a 17% reduction in rice flavor, a 38% reduction in pea flavor and a 70% reduction in separation, according to the company.

Possible applications for PureTaste are meat analogs, meat extenders, non-dairy ice cream alternatives, non-dairy yogurt alternatives, milk alternatives and baked foods.

Fermentation is the focus of a joint venture created last year by Cargill, Minneapolis, and Royal DSM, Heerlen, The Netherlands. Called Avansya, the joint venture on Nov. 14 of this year, began producing EverSweet, a zero-calorie sweetener, at a new commercial-scale fermentation facility in Blair, Neb. EverSweet contains Rebaudioside M and Rebaudioside D, two of the sweeter-tasting steviol glycosides. EverSweet involves fermentation of baker’s yeast.

Cargill also uses a yeast to ferment a sugar-rich substrate and produce its Zerose brand erythritol, a polyol used in sugar reduction.

Motif FoodWorks, Boston, will use biotechnology and fermentation, and not animal agriculture, to engineer proteins derived from dairy, egg and meat without compromising the functionality, taste and nutrition associated with animal-based ingredients, according to the company.

The company, originally called Motif Ingredients, launched in February with $90 million in Series A financing to provide alternative proteins and other ingredients to global food companies.

Motif FoodWorks decodes the genetic makeup of animal-based ingredients and translates them into animal-free counterparts. Powered by fermentation, the company harnesses biology and select microbes designed to produce target ingredients.

“Since launching the company we’ve seen an incredible response from the industry,” said Jon McIntyre, chief executive officer of Motif FoodWorks. “It’s clear that the movement towards animal-free is no passing fad. Food leaders know that to get it right, however, there can be no compromise between taste and values.”