CP Kelco and Shiru Partner To Accelerate AI Clean Label Food Ingredients For The Alternative Protein Sector

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Atlanta’s CP Kelco has announced a strategic partnership with ingredient startup Shiru. The two will work together to leverage the latter’s ’Flourish’ platform with Kelco’s precision fermentation capabilities. The goal is to push clean label ingredients identified by Emeryville-based Shiru’s AI technology through faster screenings and trials, with market release following soon after. 

Shiru’s Flourish platform analyses proteins down to their molecular composition and creates a database of equivalent formulations. From here, alternatives can be reverse engineered using precision fermentation. Coupled with Kelco’s scaled facilities, new clean proteins can be manufactured using a fraction of the traditional resources and with no animal derivatives. Proteins will be developed as part of the partnership with prototype testing earmarked for the end of 2022.

Jasmine Hume, CEO and founder of Shiru. Photo by Shiru.

Out with the old, in with the clean

One of the first proteins to be worked on will be a methylcellulose replacement. A chemical compound, it is found in numerous plant-based meats as a gelling agent or emulsifier. Inclusion in products revokes the ability to claim clean label status, an element that is becoming increasingly important to manufacturers, in line with consumer demand. 

“Shiru is developing a range of functional ingredients that enable food manufacturers to reduce their environmental footprint quickly and efficiently – without compromising on functionality, taste, or nutrition,” Dr. Jasmin Hume, CEO and founder of Shiru said in a statement. “We look forward to a long and productive partnership with CP Kelco – and with all companies that strive to make our food system sustainable and robust.”

As an ingredients supplier, Kelco has serviced the F&B industry for close to a century. It has worked with some of the biggest names in the game to perfect textures and stability additives. More recently, it launched a nature-based ingredients line to support plant-based and sustainability-driven food manufacturers that want to tap into the growing clean label trend. 

“CP Kelco has embarked on a strategic initiative focused on alternative proteins and innovation to meet evolving market and consumer needs, now and in the future,” Robert Dunn, senior marketing director and alternative proteins program lead at CP Kelco said in a statement. “We’re delighted to partner with innovators like Shiru, not only to further contribute to sustainable development within the food & beverage industry but also to accelerate our engagement and learning in the alternative proteins space.”

Prototyping is in progress at Kelco’s San Diego plant. Teams from both companies are in position together to ensure testing begins by the end of the year, in line with an agreed schedule. 

Solar Foods meatballs. Photo by Solar Foods.

In pursuit of clean labels

Bio-based ingredients are proving to be increasingly sought after, across a range of product types. In September last year, it was revealed that Givaudan, the biggest flavour and fragrance corporation in the world, is looking to harness fermentation for new ingredients. The Swiss company announced it will be with Boston-based startup Ginkgo Bioworks for a number of years, to create sustainable novel ingredients. Products will be created using fermentation for use within F&B, pharmaceuticals and fragrances.

California’s NovoNutrients bagged $9 million last year to complete a pilot project. The company uses captured carbon emissions to create sustainable proteins, using microbes. Protein flours are fermented before being added to plant-based foods and animal feeds. Finnish food tech Solar Foods is doing something similar, creating what it claims is the world’s most sustainable protein, from thin air. It has added its proprietary protein flour, Solein, to 20 plant-based meat products to prove the concept.

Lead photo by Nicole Michalou from Pexels.


  • Amy Buxton

    A long-term committed ethical vegan and formerly Green Queen's resident plant-based reporter, Amy juggles raising a family and maintaining her editorial career, while also campaigning for increased mental health awareness in the professional world. Known for her love of searing honesty, in addition to recipe developing, animal welfare and (often lacklustre) attempts at handicrafts, she’s hands-on and guided by her veganism in all aspects of life. She’s also extremely proud to be raising a next-generation vegan baby.

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