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Genomic-based approach to optimize the development of texturizing bacterial strains in yogurt

Genomic Applications Partnership Program
Agriculture and Agri Food
Genome Centre(s):
Génome Québec
Project Leader(s):
Steve Labrie (Université Laval)
Receptor Leader(s):
Sebastien Fraud (General Mills)
Project Description: 

Yoplait Liberté Canada Co. holds 30% of the yogurt market share in Canada and employs 800 Canadians across the country. The food industry continually struggles to reduce food additives (e.g., texturizing additives such as starch and gelatin) and for 70% of consumers, dairy and bakery products where additives were eliminated positively influenced their buying decisions. Eliminating texturizing additives from yogurts is a solution to meet these expectations. The most promising strategy to reduce texturizing ingredients is the incorporation of bacterial cultures that have an intrinsic capacity to modulate the texture of fermented milk through production of exopolysaccharides (EPS).

Yoplait has sequenced the genomes of 556 lactic acid bacteria (LAB) strains that could be introduced as starters or adjunct cultures in yogurt and the proposed project aims to perform functional analyses to unravel the commercial potential of these strains. This project will establish a genomic-based pipeline to select EPS-producing LAB and to assess the texturizing properties of representative strains of each selected EPS-cluster at the pilot/industrial scale. Based on Yoplait’s recent product launches ingredient simplification increased sales by 7 to 9% which would translate into increased production within the Canadian borders and more Canadian jobs.