Fonterra buys in to bio-engineered food company

By Jim Cornall contact

- Last updated on GMT

Motif’s biotech team will harness genetic science and fermentation technology to re-create and sell animal proteins and food ingredients, including those similar to dairy ingredients. Pic: ©Getty Images/gorodenkoff
Motif’s biotech team will harness genetic science and fermentation technology to re-create and sell animal proteins and food ingredients, including those similar to dairy ingredients. Pic: ©Getty Images/gorodenkoff

Related tags: Fonterra, bioengineered food

New Zealand dairy cooperative Fonterra has taken a stake in Motif Ingredients, a US-based food ingredients company that develops and commercializes bio-engineered animal and food ingredients.

Fonterra joins Ginkgo Bioworks, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Louis Dreyfus Companies and Viking Global Investors.

Judith Swales, head of Fonterra’s global consumer and foodservice business, says the move is part of the cooperative’s commitment to its farmer-owners to stay at the forefront of innovation to understand and meet the changing preferences of consumers.

“Farmers expect their Co-op to get the most value from every drop of their milk and also keep an eye on tomorrow to futureproof their Co-op for generations to come.

“Dairy nutrition will always be at our core, but we also want to explore how we can capture more value from new types of nutrition.

“The complementary nutrition category – where plant, insect, algae and fermentation-produced nutrition co-exist alongside animal proteins, including cows’ milk – is fast evolving. It’s not a case of either/or, but both,” ​Swales said.

“If we fast forward 30 years, there’ll be two billion more mouths to feed and there simply won’t be enough food to go around just using today’s methods. A combination of traditional and complementary nutrition sources will be required to meet the world’s increasing need for food, especially protein.

“As diets and preferences continue to evolve, we want to be there, providing people with choices.

“Our stake in Motif will help us be part of this emerging next-generation fermentation-produced nutrition sector.”

Genetic science

Motif has been established by Ginkgo Bioworks. Using a process similar to how insulin, vitamins and beer are made, Motif’s biotech team will harness genetic science and fermentation technology to re-create and sell animal proteins and food ingredients, including those similar to dairy ingredients.

Jonathan McIntyre, Motif Ingredients’ CEO, said, “Through biotechnology and fermentation, Motif will propel the next food revolution with affordable, sustainable and accessible ingredients that meet the standards of chefs, food developers, and visionary brands.”

Fonterra says its investment represents a minority stake in the business.

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