Pairwise, a startup that specializes in developing gene-edited produce, has announced the launch of its consumer-facing brand called Conscious Foods.
The company’s first product sold under its new brand will be its gene-edited version of Brassica juncea, more commonly known as mustard greens. The company’s mustard green is a new take on a leafy green that has not been on many menus due to a pungent smell and bitter taste. With changes engineered by CRISPR, Pairwise hopes to create a nutritious alternative to kale and Brussels sprouts that also tastes good.
The company, which got approval from the USDA last August to move forward with commercializing its CRISPR-derived mustard green, plans to bring the first products to market in early 2023. The company plans to spend the bulk of the following year optimizing mixes, creating enough seed stock to provide to farmers, and also creating awareness for its new product throughout activation events.
Pairwise’s rollout of a new consumer-facing brand fits a now-familiar pattern in which a food tech platform company launches a new brand identity as it enters the commercialization stage. Over the past couple of years we’ve seen companies such as Perfect Day, MycoTechnologies, and others launch new brands that separate the final product identity a bit from the high-tech origins and try to sell the consumer on the benefits.
“Our idea is to create this brand that stands for who we are, which includes transparency,” Adams told me on a Zoom call. According to Adams, they will put information on the package that the food is produced by gene-editing and provide a way for interested consumers to get more information (such as a QR code on the package).
“We’re not going to hide from it, but we also really want to be selling the product based on the benefits rather than the technology. I know I buy products because of the benefits I get from them.”
The company has plans to release additional products beyond their first leafy greens and are currently working on developing pitless cherries and seedless blackberries. With the blackberries, the company is developing traits beyond just making them seedless that are helpful to the grower and picker.
“In the berry space, thorns present a real challenge to picking them,” Adams said. “So we’re removing them.”
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