MINNEAPOLIS — Calyxt, Inc., a consumer-centric, food- and agriculture-focused company, recently announced that it has completed the inaugural harvest of its high-fiber wheat product, the world’s first gene-edited, consumer-focused wheat product.
The high-fiber wheat product is already the seventh Calyxt product that has been deemed non-regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including powdery mildew-resistant wheat, high-oleic soybeans, high-oleic/low-linoleic soybeans, improved quality alfalfa, cold storable potatoes and reduced browning potatoes.
“The completion of these field trials for our high-fiber wheat is an important milestone as we continue to advance toward the finish line in commercializing our first-ever gene-edited wheat product for consumers,” said James A. Blome, chief executive officer of Calyxt. “Consumer demand for high-fiber products has never been higher, as fiber is essential for healthy digestion, with the potential to decrease the risk of food-related chronic diseases like coronary heart disease and diabetes. Most adults only consume about half of the recommended amount of fiber in their diet, but, with this latest advancement, we’re one step closer to developing a product with up to three times more dietary fiber than standard white flour, resulting in a healthier alternative for consumers — with the same great taste that they love.”
The recommended daily value of fiber is 25 grams per day, whereas the average American consumes 16 grams of dietary fiber per day from the variety of foods in their diet. According to industry sources, the wheat market in North America was estimated at 98 million tonnes in 2017, with approximately 43% used for human consumption in the United States. While traditional white flour is losing ground, premium products, including high-fiber products, are estimated to grow at a compound annual rate of 11.6% globally.
The high-fiber wheat product recently transitioned from Phase I to Phase II in Calyxt’s development process and is on track for commercialization as early as 2020-21. In the next year, the company is set to further confirm the product concept in field conditions and will complete food application studies. Primary applications for high-fiber wheat flour would include any food applications where hard wheat varieties are currently used, such as with all-purpose flours and bread flours. It is also a potential use for Chinese steamed bread and noodles.
Calyxt’s high-fiber wheat was developed by using the company’s proprietary gene-editing technology, TALEN, to produce a small and precise modification in the wheat genome, which is almost six times larger than the human genome.