Quest to extract protein from air gets boost from crop trader ADM in R&D deal
crop giant Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. has entered into a strategic partnership with Air Protein, a startup that wants to make protein for meat alternatives. The two companies will work together on research and development, as well as building and operating a commercial-scale plant, ADM said in a statement.
Air Protein is part of a new wave of startups that tap precision fermentation, a technology that uses microbes and air elements. As investors cut back on funding and shoppers shun plant-based burgers or sausages, the technology is gaining more attention as a way to revive the fortunes of alternative proteins and curb the environmental footprint of livestock. ADM, which has diversified away from grain trading in recent years, is a key investor in the startup.
“With today’s agreement, we’re expanding our partnership to bring ADM’s industry-leading expertise in flavors and complete nutrition solutions,” ian pinner, ADM’s senior vice president for strategy and innovation, said in the statement. “To sustainably feed a growing global population, we need a broad protein ecosystem, from animal to plant to other novel sources.”
California-based Air Protein has managed to raise a total of $107 million in funding. Other investors have included Barclays Plc, Google’s venture capital unit and the Ford Foundation.
The firm combines carbon dioxide, oxygen and nitrogen with water and minerals in a probiotic production process that converts the elements into nutrients. The resulting protein has been granted a status of “Generally Recognized As Safe” in the US, Air Protein Chief Executive Officer Lisa Dyson said.