Good Food Institute Sees Fourth Pillar For Alt Protein Market in the Form of Molecular Farming

Website Link (Article by Michael Wolf)

Over the past few years, the Good Food Institute (GFI) has created dedicated reports for each category, or “pillar,” in the alternative protein market: plant-based, precision fermentation, and cultivated meat/seafood. This week, however, GFI teased what it sees as a possible fourth pillar for alternative protein pillar in the form of molecular farming.

Molecular farming, which GFI refers to as “plant molecular farming,” is a concept that readers of The Spoon may be familiar with. It involves producing animal protein using seed crops. Genetic engineers introduce animal DNA directly into the seeds, transforming the resulting crops into protein factories. Once the genetically engineered seeds are planted, traditional farming management techniques can be employed to grow the crops until they are ready for harvest.

The technique has been picking up momentum in recent years, in part because of the cost savings it promises to introduce. After all, there really is no more efficient way to produce calories for human consumption than by sprouting them from the ground, and by transforming plants into small bioreactors, molecular farming companies can take advantage of the scalability and cost-effectiveness of leveraging traditional row crops as protein production engines.

The addition of a fourth pillar to the alternative protein market comes as molecular farming is gaining traction. Earlier this month, molecular farming pioneer Moolec announced that their safflower plants had been cleared by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the USDA, posing no greater plant pest risk than non-genetically engineered safflower plants. Through its former parent company, Bioceres, Moolec has the capability to produce proteins such as chymosin (an enzyme used in cheese) using safflower plants. The USDA approval comes just months after Moolec became the first molecular farming company to go public in early 2023 through a SPAC vehicle offering.

Bioengineered ingredients specialist Motif Foodworks announced earlier this year that they were diversifying into molecular farming through a partnership with IngredientWerks. IngredientWerks will help Motif produce its Hemami ingredient, an ingredient identical to myoglobin in beef, through corn crops. Previously, Motif had been using precision fermentation techniques to produce Hemami.

According to GFI, there are currently 12 companies worldwide using this technology to grow various products, including casein and lactoferrin (Forte Protein and Greenovation Protein), animal-free dairy proteins for cheese, ice cream, and yogurt (Miruku, Mozza, and Nobell Foods), growth factors for cultivated meat (Tiamet Sciences and Bright Biotech), and more.

Interestingly, GFI notes that there are currently no alternative protein startups in the Asia-Pacific region using molecular farming, with only one startup (Miruku) in the broader APAC region (New Zealand). Given the focus on alternative proteins in many Asian countries, this situation is likely to change soon (one can almost hear the frantic typing of PowerPoint pitch decks while reading this post).

You can find the GFI state of the industry reports – including the molecular farming fact sheet – on this page free for download after registration.


Published by RenSun Lee

Kia ora! Sustainability is at the core of my soul ever since I was a kid. I always strive to finish the food on my plate and live as a minimalist. I love to cut down on waste in order to live sustainably and harmoniously with our planet. This brings me to my passion as a Food Scientist to integrate new technologies into innovative and creative solutions to meet customer demands and market trends and to optimize products and processes for quality, savings and sustainability. To these goals, I have published a Journal on my work on sustainable packaging and patented a new Antimicrobial wash. Nothing is more satisfying than working hard and smart at the workplace and playing hard outside of working hours. I enjoy rejuvenating myself through spending quality time with my two adorable kids and my awesome soul mate and getting close to nature when possible, be it gardening, tramping or going to the beach. I also love to learn about our magnificent universe and how sustainability is working in the grand scheme of things. I strongly believe that Work, Life & Balance is the key to a healthy state of mind, both physically and mentally. I look forward to making a positive difference wherever and whenever I can. Through this Blog, I hope to catalog recent Food Trends and Food Technologies that I come across so that anyone who is interested can have access to it (articles and resources). Please use these resources at your discretion. On top of that, I would also like to share related news and technologies of the future that would help mankind advance towards a Type 1 Civilization. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to share and contribute to the “Resources“. I would like to thank you in advance for dropping by. I sincerely hope that you can benefit from the recent Food Trends and Food Technologies I catalogued. Kind regards | Ngā mihi RenSun Lee

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