MAR 28, 2023 Dutch Gum: The environmentally friendly answer to the waste problem of coffee production
Coffee is the second most consumed beverage in the world, with 2.6 billion cups consumed daily. However, its production also results in a significant amount of waste, around 20 million tonnes per year from coffee cherries. This is both damaging to the environment and a problem for manufacturers, who have to dispose of about 45% of the coffee cherries (also called cascara). For this reason, the company PectCof (Pectin from Coffee) has found a sustainable solution to this problem.

Coffee cherry with a lot of potential

The beginning of Dutch Gum and its challenges
The original idea for Dutch Gum emerged when a customer of co-founder Andres Belalcazar's family business in Bogot√°, Colombia, asked for an analysis of a certain ingredient in a coffee cherry. The substance asked for was not present, but other interesting ingredients were found and as Andres was aware of the environmental issues involved in wasting coffee cherries, he decided to investigate them.
Together with his fellow student at the time and later co-founder Rudi Dieleman, he presented his business idea in a competition at the Wageningen University and won. With the prize money, they were able to expand and validate the business plan. From 2011 to 2015, they were financed through other business competitions, from 2015 to 2021 by business angels and since then by two Venture Capital funds.

In a new market, there are always many challenges and for PectCof, one of these challenges lies in the manufacturing process. When the customer requirement changes, the product has to be changed thereby also altering the process. Furthermore, in the industry, innovative circular economy products are sustainable but difficult to scale. However, with the amount of residual flows from coffee production, PectCof aims to achieve this goal to make a real difference.

Sustainable raw material for the food industry
Dutch Gum is extracted from the coffee cherry, or cascara (spanish: husk), the by-product and waste product of coffee production. While some of the pulp is used as compost, much of it is discarded, posing a significant environmental problem. In the production of Dutch Gum, the harvested coffee cherry is separated from the bean by farmers in the country of origin before the coffee bean is roasted. The cascara is then dry ground and shipped to Europe where valuable substances are extracted.
The combination of pectins and proteins extracted from the coffee cherry is Dutch Gum, which is a soluble dietary fibre used as an emulsifier, stabiliser and texturizer for ice cream, low alcohol beer, non-dairy drinks and confectionery. It can also replace Gum Arabic and carrageenan in soft drinks, reducing production costs for food manufacturers and extending the shelf life of processed foods.

Alternative for problematic waste product
Waste products generated during coffee production often pose a problem. The pulp and mucilage produced during the processing of coffee beans are difficult to dispose of because of their acidity and corrosiveness. They are usually dumped in huge landfills, where they pollute the environment by leaching compounds into rivers, lakes and soils. The process water used in the wet milling method to separate the mucilage from the bean contains high levels of organic acids, caffeine, catechins and tannins, creating a serious environmental problem in production regions. One tonne of green coffee can pollute the environment as much as the wastewater of 2,000 households. If the pulp is disposed of in a landfill or elsewhere, its rotting can lead to unpleasant odours. For these reasons, the by-products and waste products of coffee production are often considered worthless or unusable.
PectCof has therefore set itself the task of solving this problem in a way that is sustainable in every aspect, because companies often advertise products made of bioplastics that require a lot of water and energy which harms the environment.

Dutch Gum will soon be on the market
Being a pioneer in a new market is a challenging task that can come with many difficulties and Dutch Gum is no different. Because of this, the developers have faced many challenges over the last 12 years, such as the lack of information about cascara and its uses.
Dutch Gum is ready for the market, but cannot yet be introduced into the European market. The EU has strict laws and regulations and these must be met before a product can be sold in Europe. Nevertheless, the product will soon be launched in the American market and PectCof is happy to be contacted for new applications if interested. In addition, other cascara products such as colour, antioxidants, fruit sugars and water binding fibres will follow, but the main focus at the moment is still Dutch Gum.
Meanwhile, more and more products containing cascara are coming onto the market and interest in circular economy in general is growing strongly. The founders of Dutch Gum are not worried about competition, but enjoy the growth of sustainable business ideas.

Thank you to Pectcof B.V. for providing this information!

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