The story of CrushDynamics begins with a bike ride and a bear.
In 2016, founder and president Bill Broddy was cycling outside the winery when he saw a bear eating pomace — grape seeds and skins discarded during the winemaking process. According to CEO Kirk Moir, Broddy watched the bear not out of fear, but out of curiosity.
Later, Broddy asked Gary Strachan, a Canadian wine advocate and consultant who is now a lead scientist at CrushDynamics, why the bear was eating the discarded material. Strachan replied that the pomace is extremely nutritious, and the bear probably gorged himself on quality food before hibernating.
Broddy realized that there might be another way to use the pulp. It has great nutritional properties and the wine industry produces million tons per year. The bagasse is usually discarded, turned into fertilizer, or sometimes sold to energy companies for use in renewable energy.
CrushDynamics, formerly known as Winecrush Technologies, turns pomace into a protein ingredient. According to Moir, the company has a patented fermentation-based process that not only removes the pomace’s natural bitterness — the so-called tannins that give a slightly bitter flavor to red wines — but also reduces production costs by 90%. . The resulting ingredient can provide flavor enhancement, bitterness blocking, color, salt reduction, and shelf life. And he is rich polyphenolswhich contain antioxidants, help maintain healthy blood sugar levels and promote circulatory, heart, and immune health.
“This has global implications,” Moir said. “…We’re just trying to find good homes for the 15 million metric tons of wine derivatives around the world every year. We’ve got a pretty big, big, hairy, brash target.”
CrushDynamics is getting closer to achieving this goal. Company closed the seed round for $3.6 million. funding in April, with investors such as the Western Universities Technological Innovation Fund, Women’s Equity Lab, Lumia Capital, Australia’s AgFood Opportunities Fund and Turnham Green Capital. Moir said the funds would be used to turn the company’s process, which has so far been implemented in one wine region in Canada’s Okanagan Valley, into something that could be taken to other regions and used.
Making Wine Scraps Delicious
When CrushDynamics started, Moir said the goal was to add value to discarded wine pomace. And it all started with the most obvious thing: drying the cake and turning it into protein powder.
However, the natural bitterness of the cake prevented success. Moir said bitterness is part of the pomace, and the tannins released from wine skins and stems are essential to winemaking. After the company studied various technological processes for removing bitterness, Strachan developed a process based on fermentation. Moir called it “biotransformation” and said it was extremely successful at removing bitter taste and being a more economical way to produce the ingredient. And, according to him, this process also makes the final product more nutritious.
“We’re just trying to find good homes for the 15 million metric tons of wine derivatives around the world every year. We have a pretty big, big, hairy, bold target.”
CrushDynamics currently has two ingredient lines: Ruby Purée and Gold Purée. According to Moir, the difference lies in the color of the ingredient and the mixture of grape varieties. One ingredient can do a lot: enhance nutrition, act as a natural preservative, or enhance umami flavor. Moir said the same applies to CrushDynamics puree, similar to how different blends of grapes are used to make different types of wine. These blends can highlight more desirable features for different products. Individual changes can also be made to the fermentation process in order to obtain a different kind of end product.
“We see them as incredibly useful levers to build an ever-growing family of products,” Moir said.
The process may also not be limited to winemaking waste. Moir said it could also work with other naturally bitter and tannin-rich plant wastes, such as cranberries.
Adding some wine (waste)
There are dozens of CrushDynamics-containing products on the market today, Moir says, and the company plans to add more this year. He considers a wide range of different types of foods as candidate ingredients.
“We love to say, ‘Think of food that doesn’t go well with wine. Pretty short list, isn’t it?” Moir said. “In fact, often we come without a list at all. So that’s sort of the premise.”
Right now, CrushDynamics is focusing on working with more agile challenger brands, Moir says, though it is putting together a team to get the ingredient to the big food companies. This puree is currently included in Big Mountain Foods’ Lion’s Mane Mushroom Crumble. won the NEXTY award this year’s Natural Products Expo West for Best New Specialty Diet Product.
The company also works with plant-based meat and cheese producers, Moir said. The ingredient adds umami flavor and helps block the bitterness commonly found in popular herbal ingredients like pea protein, the company says. CrushDynamics is currently working on projects with Protein Industries Canada to improve some of the plant-based cheeses produced in the country. Moir said the researchers found that the polyphenols in CrushDynamics puree bind exceptionally well to pea protein, so their ingredients are a useful addition to those uses.
But any manufacturer looking to cut back on salt can also benefit from the ingredient’s distinctive flavor and functional profile, Moir said.
The low cost of production, as well as the fact that they are recycled from winemaking waste, also make CrushDynamics purees extremely cost-effective, the company says. Moir said the ingredient is cheaper than most other bitter taste blockers, umami flavors or clean label preservatives available today.
Big plans for growth
While CrushDynamics now has one plant, Moir said the company plans to expand across the winemaking world. Now, he says, the company is working with dozens of sustainable wineries in the Canadian province of British Columbia.
Moir said the company is currently working to build relationships with wineries in Chile and Australia. According to him, winemakers around the world are interested in finding new ways to turn their waste into something reusable and valuable.
“We see ourselves [as] an agritech, food company, but also, obviously, with a huge sustainability theme of green technology,” Moir said.
“We love to say, ‘Think of food that doesn’t go well with wine. Pretty short list, right? In fact, often we don’t come up with any list at all. So that’s sort of the premise.”
In the next 5 to 10 years, CrushDynamics hopes to work with more of the world’s wine waste, Moir said. Australia is currently the main target for international expansion, but Moir said he is also in talks with winemakers in California and New York’s Finger Lakes region, which is close to many of the East Coast food producers that CrushDynamics hopes to work with. .
“We actually think of it… as a global optimization problem,” Moir said. “Where are my food producers? Where are the grapes? Where do we want to locate our production facilities?”