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Belgian food tech startup Paleo has announced that it has raised €2 million in seed funding round. A specialist precision fermentation protein developer, Paleo has earmarked the funds for further product R&D and future facilities design. A planned €40 million Series A funding round will finance the building of an R&D centre, pilot plant, and experience hub.
Working alongside Belgian university KU Leuven, startup Paleo is investigating which proteins give meat and fish their unique qualities. So far, six have been identified and reproduced via precision fermentation. 2022 will see the company ramp up development, thanks to a €2 million seed round raised by private investors. Taking the proteins to commercial level is the next goal, so that they can be added to meat and fish alternatives. This will create a more authentic mouthfeel and flavour, while also enhancing nutritional values.
Changing the world
Paleo is a response to the continued unsustainable increase in animal consumption. “We are driven by ethical concerns. Meat and fish proteins as they are produced now, have a tremendous impact on animals and ecosystems. And it is not getting better: worldwide animal consumption keeps increasing. We develop food technology to produce meat and fish proteins in an animal-free and sustainable way. Values and technology can change the world,” Hermes Sanctorum, co-founder and CEO, said in a statement.
The company is explicit in its goals, stating that it is “creating an ultimate meat & fish experience, without hurting animals”. As a result, private investors have come onboard thanks to technology excitement and shared views about the future of food production. “It is encouraging to see that there is so much interest in what Paleo is developing. European and US investors are contacting us so we accelerate our R&D. It proves that there is room for positive change in the food industry,” said Andy de Jong, co-founder and COO of Paleo.
Precision fermentation under the microscope
While cultivated meat is a big talking point, the third alt-protein pillar of precision fermentation is causing a ripple of change that is gaining traction rapidly. Paleo claims it is the European pioneer of precision fermentation for meat and fish proteins, though the company notes that there are fellow innovators worldwide. There are more than a handful of meat-focused fermentation startups in Europe too, such as Dutch startup The Protein Brewery and Germany’s Mushlabs.
A report by the Boston Consulting Group in March of this year revealed that by 2035, 1 in 10 servings of meat, eggs, and dairy will, potentially, have been created using alt-protein. It went on to predict that with financial incentives in place for farmers willing to transition from traditional animal agriculture, alt-protein consumption could be increased to 22 percent in the same year. This represents a $290 billion market share.
Precision fermentation is already creating success stories. San Francisco food tech Perfect Day has recently announced the development of an animal-free whey protein powder. This comes after Starbucks revealed that it would be adding the company’s alt-milk to its menu in certain locations.
In the meat arena, precision fermentation and cellular agriculture are being pooled together for the first time. Australian food techs Vow and Nourish Ingredients are collaborating to make meat that’s better than the conventional option and see their partnership as the inevitable future for the industry.
Lead image courtesy of Paleo.