A sustainable alternative to animal fats

21st July 2021 | Eativity editors

The tremendous popularity of plant-based meat alternatives has led to countless varieties of plant-based meat products appearing on our supermarket shelves. Manufacturers of these alternative protein foodstuffs have, up to this point, relied on quickly-dwindling supplies of palm and coconut oils to provide nutritional fats in their products. Simply put, existing stores of these materials cannot scale to meet growing consumer demand. This is not to mention the devastating environmental impacts of extracting these oils from their natural sources. Nourish Ingredients, a start-up founded in 2019 by former CSIRO scientists, was created to offer a more sustainable solution to animal fats.

Backed by plant-based innovators Main Sequence Ventures and Horizons Ventures, Nourish Ingredients is developing sustainable animal-free fats that are suitable for any flavour profile. Using a patent-pending fermentation process, Nourish delivers an environmentally-friendly ingredient that doesn’t sacrifice taste. And they’re eyeing a growing market that’s hungry for more planet-focused plant protein alternatives.

An alternative to animal fats in plant-based meat
Plant-based meat is only one piece of the sustainability puzzle. The fats used in them also matter.

A better alternative

“The plant-based food industry is growing quickly and ripe for disruption,” says Dr James Petrie, Nourish Ingredients CEO. “Many companies have focused on the creation of these alternative proteins. But no one has put the effort that we have into tinkering with the fats.

“Right now, people eating these alternative protein products are getting just that. An alternative experience where the difference between animal fats and traditionally used animal-free fats is easily discernible. Our technology gives food-makers the ability to offer more sustainable alternative protein products. And all without having to sacrifice on taste, which is ultimately very appealing to the end consumer.”

Nourish is developing a sustainable alternative to animal fats
Nourish Chief Technical Officer Dr El-Tahchy (centre) recently won an ATSE award for innovation.

Tailor-made “meat”

Nourish Ingredients has developed a fermentation process that mimics the molecular structure of animal fats without having to use animal products or traditional materials like coconut or palm oils. Specifically, this process allows them to tailor flavour profiles and mouth-feel properties to acutely mirror any number of animal proteins, including seafood, pork, beef and chicken. The end product results in a highly customisable food that tastes better than existing alternative proteins. And it isn’t reliant upon unsustainable processes.

“As active investors in the alternative protein space, we realise that animal-free fats that replicate the taste of traditional meat, poultry and seafood are the next breakthrough in the industry,” says Phil Morle, partner at Main Sequence Ventures, which manages the CSIRO Innovation Fund. “Nourish has discovered how to do just that in a way that’s sustainable and tasty. We couldn’t be happier to join them at this early stage.”

Nourish is developing a sustainable alternative to animal fats
Nourish financial backer Horizon Ventures was an early investor in Impossible Foods.

A need for Nourish

The start-up is led by Dr Petrie and Dr Ben Leita. The two met in 2013 while working at the CSIRO. Dr Petrie formerly spearheaded the creation of omega-3 canola, the world’s first plant-based and sustainable source of omega-3. Dr Leita is an experienced chemical engineer whose past work includes the creation of a bio-based bottle for PepsiCo. During their time at CSIRO, Petrie and Leita recognised the market need for sustainable fats in the booming plant-based industry. They realised they could solve it by applying their wealth of deep scientific and technological knowledge to launch Nourish Ingredients.

“It’s fantastic to have the opportunity again to help create an entirely new market category,” says Chris Liu of Horizons Ventures, the venture capital fund that was also an early investor in Impossible Foods. “And also to revolutionise how alternative protein products are made where it has the biggest impact on taste – the fats. The team at Nourish is developing something that will completely change how we think about these products. It will be for the benefit of the consumer, the planet and the companies developing them.”

You can find out more about Nourish Ingredients at nourishing.io

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