The Protein Brewery raises €22 million for biosynthesized alternative proteins
04 Nov 2020 --- The Protein Brewery – which makes a protein called Fermotein from sugar beets, potatoes and corn as an alternative to animal variants in meat substitutes, dairy, pasta and chocolate – has netted a €22 million (US$25.7 million) Series A investment, bringing its total funding to date to €26 million (US$30.8 million).
This investment will propel the development of the Dutch company’s sustainable protein substitute, which is cultivated through proprietary microorganisms and noted for its low ecological footprint. Specifically, the investment will be used to build a pilot plant.
Fermotein’s production technology comprises a unique combination of The Protein Brewery’s proprietary fungi combined with a “cost-effective and easy-to-operate” brewing process.
“The financial support and domain expertise of the investors in The Protein Brewery, are key milestones in executing our goals even more rapidly and broadly,” says Wim de Laat, founder of The Protein Brewery.
“It provides headway to take the next important step and move toward the realization of a pilot plant.”
The new investment round was led by Novo Holdings, joined by new investors Roquette Ventures and Unovis Asset Management.
The rapid diversification of alternative proteins into the coming year has been hailed by suppliers, such as ADM, as well as Innova Market Insights in its recently unveiled Top Trend for 2021, “Plant-Forward.”
Fermotein will initially be made available in both wet “cake” format and as a dry powder. The ingredient is touted by its manufacturer as offering an excellent nutritional profile and an amino acid composition similar to conventional meat.
“The wet product can be used in applications such as meat alternatives or processed meats while the dry version can be used as a food ingredient in products like taco’s, pasta, bread and all kind of bakery products, protein bars & shakes, chocolate and ice cream,” de Laat tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
Due to its novelty, the Fermotein product requires regulatory approval for application as a food ingredient. The Protein Brewery is already in the application process for the US and European markets, with regulatory approval anticipated in 2021 in the US and 2022 in Europe.
Proprietary brewing process
The Protein Brewery was founded in January 2020, resulting from a demerger of BioscienZ, an industrial biotechnology company developing new technologies based on microbial fermentation as a core competence.
Fermotein’s production technology notablyuses only 1 percent of land, 3 percent of CO2 and 5 percent of water compared to the use of land and water in the beef industry.
Notably, the protein can be produced from a large variety of globally available, carbohydrate-rich, water-efficient and non-allergic crops such as cassava, corn, potatoes, sugar beet and sugar cane, allowing for commercialization around the globe.
The production of proteins from local crops is a key competitive advantage to offer environmentally sustainable proteins on the market, the company highlights.
Fermentation tech sparks NPD
A new report by the Good Food Institute shows that globally, fermentation companies devoted to alternative protein received more than US$274 million in venture capital funding in 2019 and over 58 percent more in the first seven months of 2020, US$435 million – even as COVID-19 disrupted global markets.
Fermentation explorations are indeed making a disruptive comeback, although finding the most optimal strategy remains a predominant challenge for formulators, Institute of Food Technologists’ (IFT) specialists note.
Fermentation is not considered new by any means, having dominated the condiment category with kimchi and gochujang leading the charge in previous years. In 2020, there will be a sweet shift with fermentation, as highlighted by Symrise’s recent North America Top Flavor Trends Report.
Kraft Heinz Company and microbiome research institute APC Microbiome Ireland have recently entered a collaboration aimed at developing new natural cultures for food fermentations.
In the same week, French yeast manufacturer Lesaffre and Recombia Biosciences joined forces to advance a gene editing technology for the sustainable production of fermented ingredients.
Among other developments, Chromologics raised €1.9 million (US$2.27 million) in seed financing for its lab-grown natural fermented colorants without the use of plants or animals.
Chr. Hansen also recently launched a new strategy geared toward fermented plant bases, adding to its existing microbial platform to improve the future of food with good bacteria.
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