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Natasha Dhayagude, CEO and co-founder of Chinova Bioworks

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Natasha Dhayagude Natasha Dhayagude

Chinova Bioworks
50 Crowther Ln., Ste. 100
Fredericton, NB, Canada E3C0J1
Phone: (506) 262-1348

Chinova Bioworks is a food technology company that was founded in 2016 to develop natural, clean-label preservatives extracted from mushrooms for the food and beverage industry. Chinova is headquartered in New Brunswick, Canada, and 90 percent of the team is made up of women practicing in STEM fields.

Natasha Dhayagude, CEO and co-founder of Chinova Bioworks, was named Startup Canada’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017 and Startup Canada’s Woman Entrepreneur of the Year in 2019 for her role in co-founding Chinova. Since then, she has raised $4.5 million in capital investment from major food-technology venture capitalists and has formed strategic partnerships with major multinational producers in the food-technology industry. Dhayagude earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry from the University of New Brunswick.

NIE: Chinova Bioworks recently announced a manufacturing expansion. Please discuss the expansion and what it means for the company.

Dhayagude: Chinova will be expanding manufacturing operations to a 20,000-square-foot facility located in Prince Edward Island, Canada supported by the PEI Bioalliance. This expansion will allow us to keep ahead of the volume demand we have been seeing from our current customers and build capacity to be able to service additional food and beverage products. This growth in capacity will further our excellence in quality manufacturing and supporting our clients through large volumes well into the next five years.

NIE: What is Chiber and what benefits does it offer?

Dhayagude: Chiber is a clean-label mushroom extract that is a natural fiber derived from white button mushrooms. This ingredient improves the quality, freshness and shelf-life of a variety of food and beverage products. Chiber is broad-spectrum and effective at inhibiting bacteria, yeast and mold ensuring food safety and is the only preservative that can be customized to target individual producers’ spoilage needs. It can meet the highest standards of natural preservation while not compromising the flavor profile, texture or appearance of any food or beverage product. Chiber is certified vegan, kosher, halal, organic compliant, non-GMO (genetically modified organism), declared allergen-free, paleo, keto-friendly, low FODMAP (fermentable, oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols), gluten free, Whole30 and contributes no added sodium to the product fitting into a wide range of dietary needs and restrictions. This product uses eco-friendly processes to create a functional and sustainable preservative that can be incorporated seamlessly into various manufacturing processes. This means brands can consistently deliver a high-quality product to consumers, resulting in increased consumer satisfaction and reduced food waste.

NIE: Chinova Bioworks recently introduced Chiber for sauces and spreads. What was the motivation behind the new application?

Dhayagude: The clean-label movement is prevalent across all food and beverage categories. However, sauces and spreads are a category associated with the highest amounts of artificial ingredients, especially preservatives. Clean-label developers are now under pressure to design products that deliver food safety and shelf-stability consumers are used to without using artificial ingredients that really enable those attributes.

Chinova’s Chiber solution for sauces, spreads and dips fulfills both the requirements of a natural, clean-label solution and ensures food safety. This product is transparent and can be labeled “mushroom extract,” which is a simple back-of-pack labeling that’s easy to understand for consumers. It is also effective at inhibiting the most common microorganisms found in sauces, spreads and dips like yeast, mold and lactic acid bacteria, ensuring food safety and creating a stable product for brands without impacting flavor, texture or appearance.

NIE: The company is celebrating its fifth anniversary. What do you envision for the future of Chinova Bioworks?

Dhayagude: Brands and co-packers have been reliant on the same artificial ingredients for years. Now as consumers are demanding more transparency and are increasingly aware of the ingredients in their products, brands have to keep up and are under a lot of pressure to reformulate the artificial ingredients to match consumer demand.

Our innovative technology really helps fill the gap. Mushrooms are on the rise within the food industry and both brands and consumers are starting to recognize the health benefits that they offer. We are at the forefront of mushroom innovation by realizing the potential of a fiber extracted from the most commonly produced white button mushroom and the impact it can have to improve the freshness, quality and shelf life of food and beverages naturally.

Chinova’s vision is to add value throughout the supply chain. Our company uses recycled waste material from stocks of mushrooms to develop our natural, clean-label product. This allows distributors to have longer-lasting products, which enables global expansion resulting in increased food security. It allows retailers to reduce costs of spoilage and it allows brands to provide consumers with natural, healthy, clean-label products resulting in reduced food waste.

In the next five years, we aim to have a strong impact with our product minimizing the industrial footprint we leave behind and making ingredients that are sustainable, eco-friendly and transparent for consumers.

NIE: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Dhayagude: Social responsibility is a priority at Chinova. Our team consists of 90 percent of women in STEM fields. We believe in increasing the representation and investment that is supportive of women and gender non-conforming innovators in positions of leadership, including board positions and senior management. We strive to uphold these values as we continue to grow and expand.

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