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Current Position:Home » News » Beverages & Alcohol » Topic

AB InBev partnership harnesses predictive breeding to create sustainable varieties

Zoom in font  Zoom out font Published: 2019-02-01  Views: 23
Core Tip: The world’s largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), has joined forces with a US crop improvement company to employ a cutting-edge platform to improve barley yields, diversify crops and bolster barley breeding.
The world’s largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), has joined forces with a US crop improvement company to employ a cutting-edge platform to improve barley yields, diversify crops and bolster barley breeding. By tapping into the predictive breeding methods of Benson Hill Biosystems solutions, the Belgium-based brewers will be using technology that accelerates the development of higher yielding and sustainable barley varieties which require less water and fewer natural resources.

The collaboration will employ the CropOS Computation Platform to advance barley breeding so that more farmers around the world will be equipped with more productive and sustainable barley varieties.

Barley is extremely sensitive to extreme heat and drought, underscoring the importance of developing varieties with a greater resilience to the rapid onset of climate change – an issue which is increasingly in the spotlight with regards to how it impacts raw materials, crops and, ultimately, food security.

Gary Hanning, Director, Global Barley Research at AB InBev, tells how the advanced predictive breeding system works and what the benefits are for farmers, brewers and beer lovers.

“Plant breeding is a series of processes and technologies used to develop new varieties that are better adapted to a specific environments and meet quality expectations. To accomplish these goals requires considerable time,” he explains.

The modeling software provided by Benson Hill will be used to accelerate the breeding process by leveraging the genetic diversity from ABI’s Global breeding program.

“This will give growers access to barley varieties that will allow them to reduce chemical and water inputs and produce grain that reliably meets our stringent malting specifications.”

As beer comes from natural ingredients, and brewing beers relies on a healthy environment and thriving communities, AB InBev is aware that climate change is the most pressing issue facing the planet – and the multinational drink and brewing holdings company has a significant role to play in ensuring sustainable ingredients for the future as the world’s population is projected to increase to 9.8 billion by 2050.

“By 2025, we aim to ensure that 100 percent of our direct farmers are skilled, connected and financially empowered and we believe that skilled farmers utilize varieties that have been tailored to their local environment in order to improve their agronomic, operational and environmental performance. Using the Benson Hill platform will help us get these better-suited varieties into the hands of our farmers faster,” Hanning explains.

“Sustainability is core to our business because we are building a company to last – bringing people together for a better world – now and for the next 100+ years. We know that no one company or organization can solve today’s sustainability challenges alone. The partnership with Benson Hill will enhance our Smart Agriculture work and drive sustainability.”

For AB InBev, brewing quality beer starts with the best ingredients. That requires a healthy environment and thriving communities, adds Hanning. “Benson Hill’s powerful Breed application positions us at the forefront of innovation to develop more resilient and sustainable varieties of barley for growers and the best quality malt for our brewers.”

AB InBev sources barley from many different countries and environments. Development of new varieties not only requires the development of varieties adapted to those environments, but they also must retain the quality characteristics needed for malting and brewing; making malt barley a complex crop to breed, according to Hanning.

“Climate change as it relates to increasing temperature or more erratic rainfall patterns creates additional complexity. Shortening the time required to develop new varieties allows breeders to adjust more quickly to those changing conditions and improved knowledge of genomics will provide a pathway to accomplish those goals.”

As part of its 2025 Sustainability Goals, AB InBev leverages SmartBarley – its flagship platform that was launched in 2013 and leverages data, technology and insights to help more than 5,000 enrolled farmers improve their productivity and environmental performance. Today, SmartBarley is present in over 12 countries across five continents.

AB InBev will now use Benson Hill’s Breed application in combination with traditional breeding methods to help accelerate the development of higher yielding barley varieties that use less water and other natural resources. Benson Hill helps innovators with a revolutionary crop design platform to develop healthier and more sustainable food and ingredients. Its CropOS platform combines machine learning and big data with genome editing and plant biology to dramatically accelerate and simplify the product development process.

The platform’s machine learning capability calibrates and evolves with each field trial and data set, improving its predictive capability to accelerate product development.

“AB InBev recognizes the power of plants and innovation to benefit both farmers and consumers,” says Matt Crisp, CEO and Co-Founder of Benson Hill. “The Benson Hill team is eager to apply the predictive power of CropOS to AB InBev’s SmartBarley program and rapidly advance its breeding efforts.”

Higher yielding barley varieties
Benson Hill supports organizations of any size across the agri-food value chain to benefit from the most advanced tools in seed innovation. CropOS identifies the most promising genetics for any targeted outcome from higher yield to environmental sustainability or enhanced nutrition.

Crisp says: “AB InBev recognizes that great food and beverage products start with great ingredients and great ingredients start with great seed. We are proud to partner with AB InBev, the world’s largest brewer, to improve the quality and sustainability of barley, a key ingredient in their product portfolio.

“It all starts with a seed. Breeding better barley seed means AB InBev can ensure greater sustainability and profitability for their farmers and great taste and quality for their customers,” he says.

“We are committed to creating end-to-end solutions to meet the needs of seed, food and ingredient companies, wherever they serve in the food production process. This partnership is great example of our ability to empower companies throughout the food and agriculture supply chain to reach their quality and sustainability goals,” Crisp notes. “Food and ingredient companies of all sizes are responding to consumer demands for greater sustainability in food production and we’re proud to contribute to AB InBev’s progress towards their sustainability goals.”

“Our partnership will ensure those farmers are using the best seed available, bred to provide great taste and quality while using natural resources like water more efficiently and protecting the health of our soils. Benson Hill empowers companies of any size, at every step of the food and agriculture supply chain – from seed developers, to food and ingredient suppliers, to ingredient buyers – to bring tastier, healthier products to market with greater speed and precision,” Crisp continues.

He explains that the collaboration will also apply modern data analytics and machine learning capabilities of the CropOS computational platform to tap the natural genetic diversity that exists within barley and breed better varieties faster.
 
 
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