Australian startup Nourish Ingredients, which makes plant-based fats, announced today that it has raised $11 million (USD) in initial funding. The round was led by Horizon Ventures and Main Sequence Ventures (a venture firm founded by Australia’s national science agency).
Nourish Ingredients has developed a proprietary yeast fermentation process that recreates the molecular structure of animal fats without using animal products. Additionally, Nourish’s process does not use existing materials such as coconut or palm oils, the harvesting of which is controversial because of the resultant deforestation and unethical labor practices.
In addition to being potentially more environmentally friendly, Nourish says that it’s fermentation process allows it to create flavor profiles and mouthfeel that more accurately mimic animal proteins such as seafood, pork, beef and chicken products.
Fermentation has been called “the next pillar of alternative proteins,” alongside cultured meat and plant-based proteins. We’ve already seen fermentation tech being applied in variety of ways including bee-free honey, animal-free cheese, and sausage patties.
At the same time, we’ve also seen a number of startups creating ingredients that help enhance non-animal proteins. Hoxton Farms is cultivating animal-free fats, and Swedish researchers are using electricity and carbon dioxide to turn air into fats.
According to a recent report from Boston Consulting Group and Blue Horizon Corporation, the market for alternative proteins is projected to hit $290 billion by 2030, but that ambitious figure comes with some caveats. First, alternative proteins much reach price parity with traditional animal meats, and there are a number of startups tackling that issue. Equally as important, however, is that alternative proteins must reach taste and texture parity with animal meat as well. If Nourish Ingredients’ technology works as promised, it will help alternative protein companies do just that.