Featured vacancies:

Packaging Technologist, Food, 3-month FTC
, London
, £300
 - £350
per annum
Health & Safety Officer, Food Manufacturing
, North Yorkshire
, £30000
 - £35000
per annum
Account Executive, Food Manufacturing
, Cambridgeshire
, £25000
 - £31000
per annum
 + Bonus & great package
Innovation & Technical Lead
, Hertfordshire
, £65000
 - £85000
per annum
 + Package
Process Technologist, Food Manufacturing
, Norfolk
, £30000
 - £35000
per annum
Senior Process Technologist, Food Manufacturing
, Cornwall
, £35000
 - £40000
per annum
Quinoa Genome Could Slash Prices

Quinoa Genome Could Slash Prices

Scientists have managed to decode the quinoa genome in a move that could slash prices.

The crop is one of the most nutritious in the world, but is hugely underused because the demand exceeds the supply.

Prices rocketing

Quinoa has become a trendy food in recent years, with people in food ingredients jobs finding it in heavy demand thanks to its reputation as a super-food. It is well balanced and free of gluten, making it the perfect alternative for those who are following alternative diets.

However, the huge increase in demand for the South American grain has led to problems as farmers simply cannot keep up. The price of the grain has therefore skyrocketed, which pushed scientists to look into the genome and see what could be done.

The aim is to create varieties which are more productive. At present, quinoa is somewhat difficult to grow. It likes high altitudes combined with cool temperatures, a fact which has seen it relegated to growing in Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. There are small amounts being grown around the world, but these three countries are the main suppliers.

Prices have tripled between 2006 and 2013, and the last few years have seen further growth. The good news is that the increase in demand benefitted the people of the areas where it is grown, which have been traditionally poorer.

But so far, breeding programs have failed. The plant naturally produces bitter and toxic saponins to protect against predators, which must be removed for human consumption. The plants also fall over easily and are generally weak, which is bad news for farmers looking to make a bigger crop.

Genome sequencing

Now, however, scientists at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, or KAUST, have been able to sequence the genome. They have also been able to produce the highest quality quinoa gene sequence that has yet been achieved, either by scientific or natural means.

“By sequencing the genome we have provided the foundation to enable breeders to work much faster and more powerfully,” said project leader Professor Mark Tester. “Especially the seeds, they will be able to develop a lot more varieties for different conditions, they will help us make a designer plant.”

Not only have they already made some progress, but they have in fact managed to deal with one of the main issues with food manufacturing of quinoa.

“We’ve pinpointed one of the genes that we believe controls the production of saponins in quinoa which would facilitate the breeding of plants without saponins to make the seeds taste sweeter,” said Tester. “For the saponins, that benefit can now be delivered to farmers through conventional breeding. We are putting the breeding into turbo charge, we are putting the breeding on steroids.”

Welcome news

Other scientists have spoken up about the new discovery.

“The quinoa DNA sequence information is extremely valuable for identifying key genes controlling important agronomic traits and for identifying genetic variability among the cultivars,” said Dr Sven-Erik Jacobsen from the University of Copenhagen. “Now breeders can go into quinoa genomic library for the information that will help speed up the breeding process.”

Tester is confident that their research can help push down the price of quinoa. He says, “If we get to a similar price to wheat it can be used in processing and in bread making and in many other foods and products. It has the chance to truly add to current world food production.”

This could be the start of a revolution in quinoa’s production – which can only mean good things for health-conscious foodies.

About this article

Read time

Share

Latest news

Supply Chain jobs
Supply chain jobs come in all shapes and sizes. We recruit for roles within the Supply Chain function from junior management roles to board level positions. Are you an experienced supply chain specialist looking for an exciting and rewarding career in the food industry? The food industry is a sector with many exciting opportunities for...
sales and marketing jobs light bulbs
The food industry is a fast-paced, constantly evolving sector, which means that working in sales and marketing jobs in this field are incredibly rewarding. The challenging environment allows you to thrive and learn something new every day and the knowledge gained in this sector can be invaluable for your future career. If you’re looking for...
Food inflation below 10% - lady shopping
It’s an exciting time for food industry professionals in the UK The latest news from the British food sector is that there has been an increase in the number of food manufacturing jobs available in the last year. 2023 has been an especially big year for growth and innovation that will shape the future of...
Food finance jobs
Looking at food finance jobs are an excellent choice of career for anyone looking for a job that holds potential to grow and evolve. From major manufacturers to small-scale food producers, there’s a lot of exciting opportunities to explore. The food industry is booming, with sales in the UK reaching record highs in recent years....
chocolate
Hotel Chocolat founders have agreed a takeover with Mars. Mars will take over the business and have agreed to keep production in the UK. The founders are set to make £280m after an agreed take over of £534m. After the deal was announce shares increased by 160%. Mars currently employs over 140,000 people around the...
Engineering jobs - workers working in a factory
Engineering jobs in the FMCG world are certainly a great option for those that like to fix broken things or think strategically on how they can improve on a process within a manufacturing environment. As an Engineer, within either the FMCG or food industry, you have a unique opportunity to make an impact on the...
Chef jobs are exciting Chef placing food on a plate
Chef jobs in food manufacturing are exciting opportunities! Are you currently looking for Chef Jobs and what opportunities are out there? Joining the food manufacturing industry could be the opportunity you have been waiting for! There is a vast array of Chef jobs you could be interested in. A great industry to move into the...
Food inflation below 10% - lady shopping
Food inflation has finally dropped under the 10% mark for the first time in over a year! This is good news for all Food Businesses and Consumers. This significant dip is a major milestone in the journey towards sustainable economic growth and food security for the UK. Every retailer included in the Kantar report saw...
interviewing for NPD and development jobs
Are you currently interviewing for NPD jobs or Food Development Jobs? Are you on the lookout for a job that challenges, excites and motivates you? There are so many reasons to consider being part of an NPD team. But the main recurring theme with anyone we speak to is that it isn’t just a job;...

Get in touch