Fermentino continues to gain momentum in the segment for high-quality foods. This new food category is in demand: delicious distinct 100 percent plant-based cheese alternatives obtained from the fermentation of nuts and oilseeds, water and (a pinch of) salt. Vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian young and old consumers have found in fermentino the right taste, texture, nutrition, and versatile performance.
Euro Company, a leading Italian enterprise with over 40 years of experience in the nuts sector, has scaled up the artisan production of fermentino. It started with Cicioni, a strongly fermented product developed by raw food and vegan chef Daniela Cicioni, and which was presented at BIOFACH in 2017. Fermè, a milder line of fermented cashews, water, and salt flavored with herbs and natural spices followed and was a success at BIOFACH in 2019.
This Fall, Euro Company is adding Camelia, the bloomy rind organic fermentino made by fermenting cashews and macadamia nuts. Camelia’s Penicillium Candidum based fermentation gives it its unique brie-style rich taste and texture, despite having only four ingredients and no additives or preservatives of any kind.
The company is also presenting Grattino - the grated fermentino made with cashews and macadamia nuts, black pepper and nutmeg. It is organic, 100% plant-based, and ideal for adding richness and intense taste and aroma to any pasta. Grattino is also a versatile product that can be used in a wide range of recipes such as vegetable “au gratin,” vegetable parmigiana dishes, or for delicious bread coatings.
What differentiates Camelia and Grattino from Cicioni and Fermè? “We wanted to create a product with an extraordinary taste, as creamy as possible. That is why we added macadamias to the recipe,” said business development manager, Gert-Jan de Groot. “Macadamias are known as the Queen of Nuts. Both raw materials cashew nuts and macadamias are sourced from African suppliers with a strong commitment to supporting local communities.”
France and the United Kingdom have shown the most openness (outside Italy) to explore and taste Euro Company’s innovative and healthy fermentino products. CICIONI won the Best New Organic Food Product Award at the NOPE 2017 and the ‘Best Natural Ingredient of the Year 2018’ award at Food Matters Live in London. And this past June, at the UP Wabel in Paris, Fermentino Fermè was awarded ‘Best Sustainable Product.’
“Fermentino Camelia and Grattino will have an official presence at Natexpo, Paris, Oct 20-22 in stand H180, a big show for us,” said de Groot. “Our distributor in France has received positive feedback. Reactions to Camelia are outstanding. People love the taste and creamy texture provided by the macadamias,” he said. The French retail chain Biocoop will be the first to introduce Grattino and Camelia.
The suggested price point at retail for fermentino Fermè Semi aged 90g is between € 6,49 – 6,99, and € 4,49 – 4,99 for the fermentino Fermè Spreadable 100g. Fermentino Camelia 100g is expected to fluctuate between € 8,49 – 8,99 and a stand-up pouch of fermentino Grattino 75g between € 5,49 – 5,99.
Fermentation: The magic ingredient
According to Riccardo Astolfi, who is responsible for R & D at Euro Company, fermentino is the manifestation of a dream to create a excellent product from a nutritional and environmental perspective: a plant-based food, gluten-free, raw, alive, unpasteurized, and tasty.
Fermentino is a new food category, but the fermentation process itself is the oldest method of food preservation. It dates back to the Neolithic period. The fermentation process is the conversion of sugars and other carbohydrates into preservative organic acids. Since the process lowers the pH below 4.4, fermentino does not need the addition of preservatives, thickeners, and other substances common in many processed food products. “Naturally fermented nuts and oilseeds are rich in good fats, proteins and fiber, provide a light taste and are easy to digest,” says Astolfi. During the fermentation process, the food substrates are enriched with proteins, essential amino acids, and vitamins. Depending on the ripeness, fermentino products can be fresh or aged, hard or soft.
It is interesting to note that despite being an ancient food process, in the current food industry, “this product category did not exist. So, we wanted to give it a new and clear definition free for everyone,” said Astolfi. “Fermented food is a healthy way of enriching our diet and introducing new flavors, aromas, and textures. It also allows us to experiment, relying on secrets used since the dawn of time.”
Astolfi first worked with Euro Company as co-author of the book Fermentino, along with Daniela Cicioni and Michela Pagnani. He brought with him over ten years of solid experience dealing with logistics, management, and food fermentation. Joining Euro Company was a good move. Astolfi had also learned from personal experience that the old saying “you are what you eat,” is correct. Growing up he did not pay attention to diet and ate lots of highly processed foods. He gained weight that affected his overall health.
During the first year of university, he changed to a plant-based diet rich in organic food and became part of the Slow Food movement. Once he saw the positive results, he decided to make food R & D his career. “The desire to grow and learn about issues that seem disconnected from your daily activity is the everyday life at Euro Company.”
The 40-year-old firm is a B Corporation that recently changed its legal status to a benefit corporation (Srl Societa Benefit), where the goal of profit combines with the purpose of creating a positive impact for society and the environment. The company operates in a transparent, responsible and sustainable way. “I am proud to work for a company like this and to give my small contribution to make it better every day,” said Astolfi.