Palm oil alternative secures funding boost

Chris Chuck – Yeast alternative to palm oil
Research with Impact 2022
Client: Chris Melvin - Comms
© University of Bath
August 11, 2022

Palm oil alternative secures funding boost

A UK-based food tech business says it is one step closer to developing a viable alternative to palm oil after securing new funding for a yeast-based product.

Clean Food Group is looking to scale up production of its lab-grown cellular-based alternative to palm oil which has been developed by scientists at the University of Bath.

Palm oil is currently used as a staple ingredient in a wide range of food and consumer goods products such as chocolate and shampoo. It is the world’s most traded vegetable oil however palm oil production in certain parts of the world has been linked to deforestation, ecosystem conversion, biodiversity loss, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as well as labour and human rights violations.

The yeast strain has been developed using a natural process called ‘directed evolution’, which is a non-genetically modified process similar to plant breeding. Using food waste as a feedstock and renewable energy as an energy source, Clean Food Group uses fermentation to grow the yeast within fermenter tanks similar to those used in the brewing industry.

Once scaled, the company says its technology has the potential to displace palm oil by bringing a range of more sustainable products to the market. Its yeast-based alternative is said to be bio-equivalent to palm oil in terms of its nutritional and fatty acid makeup and performs in the same way that palm oil does.

Earlier this year, 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. Clean Food Group has also signed a two-year collaboration agreement with the university to scale the technology and bring its palm oil alternative to market with Chuck joining the business as a technical advisor.

Clean Food Group recently completed a £1.65m financing round led by cellular agriculture company Agronomics. Investment priorities include the development of a large-scale pilot plant to demonstrate the palm oil alternative within finished products and securing regulatory approval for new products. A Clean Food Group spokesperson told Footprint it is planning to have palm oil alternative ingredients on the market in 2023.

“With this funding round now successfully completed, we are not only well capitalised to complete the next stage of our corporate development, but are also well placed to take the next step on the path to bringing our palm oil alternative, an ingredient with the potential to solve substantial environmental, food security, health and working environment challenges within the incumbent palm oil supply chain, to market,” said Alex Neves, co-founder and CEO of Clean Food Group.

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