Burbling bread starters and pots of kimchi or kraut are common in today’s fermentation-forward, health-conscious kitchens. But what happens when you merge the ancient craft that brought us fine wine, soy sauce, and chocolate with cutting-edge science and technology ? You get protein, which is exactly what new(ish) spinoff company Motif Foodworks is all about: making animal-free protein solutions to help feed the alt-meat revolution.
We talked to Michele Fite, Chief Commercial Officer of Motif FoodWorks, to find out more. She will be at the Smart Food Summit (SKS) on October 7th speaking about Next-Gen Food Building Blocks next month. Tickets are almost gone, so register now!
This Q&A has been lightly edited for clarity.
Tell us more about how Motif FoodWorks works.
We are an ingredient innovation company dedicated to reshaping the landscape of food through science and technology. We will do that by partnering with food innovators, from chefs to startups to major enterprise brands, and creating animal-free ingredients that will enable new and better food experiences. Ultimately, our goal is to defy expectations of what animal-free alternatives can be.
To achieve breakthroughs in ingredient innovation, we employ an exhaustive process to understand and unlock new food properties. We start with a thorough analysis of the sensory experience that allows us to identify the underlying components. We then decode the genetic makeup of those ingredients, translating them into animal-free counterparts. Powered by fermentation, we harness biology and select microbes designed to produce our target ingredients — ones we have traditionally gotten from animals — through a process that is akin to brewing beer.
Motif FoodWorks just raised $27.5 million dollars. What do you plan to use your new capital to achieve?
With the new funding, we plan to add to and accelerate our product pipeline; expand academic collaborations across a broad set of molecular food science disciplines; scale our science and regulatory staff; and deepen our research and development efforts.
This year alone we have been able to expand our leadership team with the additions of Janet Collins, Head of Regulatory, Government and Industry Affairs, Julie Post-Smith, Director of Business Development, and Morgan Keim, Business Development Manager, who will help Motif unlock the secrets of food and meet consumer demand for delicious, responsibly produced foods.
Why do you think the alternative protein space is so white-hot right now? What is motivating its rise in popularity?
The alternative protein space is rising in popularity because of shifting consumer attitudes, emerging technologies, and the “cool factor” of brands like Beyond and Impossible drawing more attention to the industry as a whole.
People want to eat a little better, both for their own health and the health of the environment, and Motif sees a unique opportunity to move plant-based and animal-free foods beyond a fad and solidify them into a movement by making sure consumers don’t have to compromise between taste, nutrition and values.
You previously worked in big CPG companies such as Nestlé, Dupont and Kerry. How has your experience informed your role at Motif Bioworks?
I am fortunate to bring a depth of experience in the food industry to my work at Motif – from working in consumer packaged goods experience as a marketer and brand manager to serving as a B2B executive in highly technical and specialized businesses such as infant formula, weight management, sports nutrition, medical foods, and dietary supplements. I will apply my abilities to understand consumer insights and trends in the food space and connect them back to technology to my role at Motif, as we work to reshape the food landscape and bring more nutritious, accessible and sustainable food experiences to consumers.
Come hear Michele, Perumal Gandhi of Perfect Day and Lisa Dyson of Air Protein speak at SKS next month! Tickets are going fast.