Yali Bio raises US$3.9 million to scale plant-based cultured lipids
Feb. 24, 2022 — Yali Bio, a California-based food tech company that uses precision fermentation to grow “tailor-made fats” for plant-based meat substitutes, has raised a $3.9 million funding round US$, bringing the total funding to US$5 million. The funding will be used to drive R&D, operations and business development of the fledgling food solution.
The US-based company combines synthetic biology, deep learning and genomics tools to produce fats deemed “longer-lasting than oils currently used in plant proteins, but on par with their animal-derived analogues in terms of flavor and texture.
“The process is similar to brewing beer. The microbes chew up the sugar and nutrients and grow bigger. We engineer the microbes with the genes needed to produce the target fats, grow them in bioreactors, and harvest them after a few days of growth. It’s quite an efficient and controlled process,” said Yulin Lu, co-founder and CEO of Yali Bio. FoodIngredientsFirst.
“From an application perspective, fats are everywhere in food products, such as meat, butter, ice cream and cheese. This is why there is a huge deforestation problem associated with the cultivation of palm trees and cocoa, as they are so widely used in the foods of our daily lives.
In terms of format, Lu notes that the company does not plan to sell its fats directly to consumers, but is currently exploring partnership opportunities with food companies. “Our goal is to find a partner with strong R&D and product innovation capabilities to maximize the effectiveness of our products.”
The latest funding round was led by Essential Capital with participation from new and existing investors: Third Kind Venture Capital, S2G Ventures, CRCM Ventures, FTW Ventures and First-in Ventures.
“High-quality fats are currently a major pain point when developing plant-based analogs for animal proteins,” comments Chuck Templeton, managing partner at S2G Ventures.
“We are excited to invest in Yali Bio to improve this crucial component of plant-based products with the goal of improving the consumer experience while reducing the impacts of conventional farming.”
Get out of traditional vegetable oils
In line with Innova Market Insights’ top trend for 2022, “Shared Planet”, consumers are looking for products that meet their ever-changing health and environmental standards.
But the growing global appetite for more sustainable zero-slaughter diets is squeezing out staple ingredients, like coconut oil, which is already a leading cause of deforestation and habitat destruction in South Asia. -Is.
From a formulation standpoint, coconut oil has a low melting point that causes it to melt quickly and seep out of the product when heated. This means that by the time the product is consumed, much of the fat has dissipated, resulting in a drier product.
Yali Bio further points out that coconut and other commonly used vegetable oils also do not offer the same unique flavors as animal meats. This means companies will often have to compensate with flavor additives that lead to complicated labels.
Yali Bio develops its exclusive technology to create vegetable fats that mimic animal fats. These can be adapted to a variety of applications.
For example, different cuts of steak have different fat compositions and provide distinct eating experiences. By using precision fermentation, the company will be able to design fats that achieve the next level of properties and functional experiences for the consumer when it comes to plant-based alternatives.
Regarding its carbon footprint, Yali Bio’s fats produce less than 0.5 kg of CO2 per serving compared to 15 kg for beef, 4 kg for pork and 2 kg for butter.
“While other companies focus on making better, more suitable fats, many of them use cell culture techniques, which means they have to go through an extensive regulatory approval process,” says the society.
“Because Yali Bio uses plant-based ingredients, the process is much simpler, giving us a faster time-to-market strategy.”
Zero Acre Farms is currently piloting a similar technique, bringing in US$37 million to investors including Robert Downey Jr.’s FootPrint Coalition Ventures. The company is positioning itself as a disruptor of traditionally grown vegetable oils seen as using next-gen ingredients. and made by “fermentation, not deforestation”.
Other new products scaled using precision fermentation include new vegan casein from Fooditive, vegan cheese from These Vegan Cowboys, and cow-free milk from Eden Brew.
By Benjamin Ferrer
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