Canberra-based startup Nourish Ingredients is a step closer to delivering its animal-free fermented fat for use in the fake meat industry after securing $11 million in seed funding
Nourish is backed by Main Sequence Ventures, the venture arm of the federal government’s scientific research agency CSIRO, and Hong Kong-based venture fund Horizons Ventures, which is also an investor in plant-based meat giant Impossible Foods.
Nourish will use the funds to further develop its animal-free fat, using a proprietary fermentation process to mimic the molecular structure of animal fats without using animal products or alternatives like coconut oil, canola oil or palm oil.
Scientists Dr James Petrie and Ben Leita, who started Nourish while working at CSIRO, are hoping to capitalise on the booming popularity of meat alternatives. The startup’s products, designed to replicate the properties of animal proteins including beef, pork and chicken, can be used in both plant-based and lab-grown meats
“Most of the plant-protein products that are out there today are missing something in that fat department,” Mr Petrie said. “We can recreate that sort of taste and experience that you get from a normal animal fat but we don’t have to take it out of an animal.”
Nourish claims its products can help address some of the health and environmental concerns around meat alternatives.
Mr Petrie added there was scope to improve the health benefits of Nourish’s products by reducing saturated fats and replacing them with fats that were either positive or neutral. Nourish also wants to provide an alternative to palm and coconut oils that are traditionally used to provide nutritional fats to meat alternative products.
Phil Morle, partner at Main Sequence Ventures, said the firm’s investment thesis was that the world needed to make twice as much food as it does now and traditional agricultural practices weren’t up to the task.
“When I started my life as an investor I don’t think I ever imagined I’d invest in a fat company but actually it’s one of the companies I’m most excited about,” Mr Morle said. “The alternative protein companies have made enormous leaps in the last few years towards that quality of meat or dairy but they’re not there yet.”
Cara is the small business editor for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald based in Melbourne