The animal-free pepsin – which will be distributed by Ingredion – has the same functionality as the animal-derived variety, with the added benefits of “safe and consistent sourcing, quality control, price stability and vastly increased sustainability,” said San Francisco-based Clara Foods, which is best-known for using engineered microbes to express egg proteins (minus the chickens).
But there is a rising star on the alternative protein scene—a versatile platform that is simultaneously familiar and well established yet completely underexplored and untapped for its true potential within the alternative protein sector. Microbial fermentation can create a novel center-of-plate experience as a standalone ingredient or provide a functional or sensory boost so subtle that the consumer may be oblivious to its behind-the-scenes magic. The adaptability of fermentation enables it to play across virtually the whole alternative protein landscape, expanding product categories in unique ways while also empowering plant-based and cell-cultivated approaches to meet consumer expectations for taste, price, and accessibility.
While other well-known meat alternative companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat make plant-based protein from soy and peas, Air Protein is the first to make “air-based” protein by farming carbon from the air with microbes. The startup’s recent $32 million Series A funding round, closed in January and led by investors ADM Ventures, Barclays and GV (formerly Google Ventures), secures its spot in the rapidly expanding field of meatless meat in the new wave of alternative protein technology — fermentation.