British food-tech start-up to bring revolutionary palm oil alternative to market

August 11, 2022

British food-tech start-up to bring revolutionary palm oil alternative to market

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Clean Food Group is one step closer to producing a viable yeast-based alternative to palm oil.

The UK-based food-tech business, which develops cultivated food, said its ‘lab grown’ cellular-based alternative could help reduce the environmental impact of a range of palm-based ingredients that can be found in nearly 50% of all packaged products found on supermarket shelves.

The global palm oil market was valued at US$ 50.6 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach US$ 65.5 billion by 2027. However, palm oil production continues to be a major driver of deforestation of some of the world’s most biodiverse habitats, impacting critically endangered species like the orangutang, pygmy elephant and Sumatran rhino. This process combined with the conversion of carbon-rich peat soils, is issuing millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change. Associated issues of exploitation of workers and child labour are also a significant concern.

Clean Food Group’s mission is to be part of the solution to this environmental crisis beginning with the production of its palm oil alternative.

In Q1 2022 the company acquired relevant intellectual property from the University of Bath where the technology has been developed over the last eight years by Professor Chris Chuck and his team. Prior to the acquisition, in excess of £4.4 million had been spent developing the technology to the stage where it is ready for scale-up and commercialisation.

In addition, Clean Food Group has signed a two-year collaboration agreement with the University to scale the technology and bring its palm oil alternative to market. Professor Chris Chuck has joined Clean Food Group as a technical advisor and leads a team of scientists at a dedicated Clean Food Group laboratory and Pilot Plant at the University of Bath.

Clean Food Group is further investing in the development of a large-scale pilot plant and securing regulatory approval for new products.

Christopher Chuck, Clean Food Group technical advisor and Professor of Bioprocess Engineering in Bath’s Department of Chemical Engineering, said the acquisition and further investment to scale the technology will bring closer to market a range of more sustainable products displacing palm oil in the market.

He said: “We’ve worked over many years to create robust palm oil alternatives that give us a real chance to cut the impact of a range of products that until now have only been possible to produce with palm oil and the deforestation, pollution and emissions that come with it.”

Agronomics, the leading listed company focused on the field of cellular agriculture, has led Clean Food Group’s financing rounds to-date including their recently completed seed round of £1.65 million, with Agronomics holding a 35% interest in the company. Jim Mellon has joined the Board of Clean Food Group following the investment by Agronomics. Other early investors joining Agronomics include AIM listed SEED Innovations Limited, a leading global food and beverage company, as well as venture capital investors.

In addition to our acquisition of the intellectual property for the palm oil alternative technology and our collaboration with the University of Bath to scale the technology, there will be investment in securing regulatory approval for the palm oil alternative ingredients in multiple markets.