Sector News

“Landless” protein poised for development as ADM and Air Protein partner in alt-meat production

May 21, 2023
Consumer Packaged Goods


ADM and Air Protein, a pioneer in air-based nutritional protein that requires no agriculture or farmland, are collaborating on R&D to advance new and novel proteins for nutrition.

The Strategic Development Agreement will combine ADM’s broad nutrition, formulation and research expertise with Air Protein’s unique landless agriculture platform to identify ways to scale cost-effective ingredients that enable meat substitutes to deliver on their cost, nutrition, flavor and texture targets.

It will also provide mutually exclusive rights for ADM and Air Protein to collaborate to build and operate the world’s first Air Protein commercial-scale plant.

Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, Ian Pinner, senior vice president for strategy and innovation at ADM, says food security, sustainability and health and well-being are the three trends driving structural changes in the global food system, particularly as the population continues to grow.

“Expanding the protein ecosystem, including choices from plant-based, animal-based and novel sources, will be needed to feed people worldwide while keeping what’s best for our planet in mind. Our expanded partnership with Air Protein represents one of the many ways we’re making important strides toward bringing new protein options to the marketplace, further expanding the future possibilities of protein development.”

Alt-protein wrap
ADM is meeting the increasing demand for nutrition and an elevated sensory experience.
Pinner notes that ADM is “dedicated to the continued expansion of our capabilities and our pantry of ingredients and solutions that can help solve global challenges associated with food security, sustainability and health and well-being.”

Global importance of nutrition
Partnering with Air Protein and collaborating on this novel protein solution’s research, development and scalability represents another way ADM is meeting the increasing demand for nutrition and an elevated sensory experience.

Pinner says that being at the forefront of providing cost-effective ingredients for new alternative meat solutions that are nutritious, delicious and meet evolving and growing demand from sustainability-conscious consumers is paramount for ADM.

“With this agreement, we’re expanding our partnership to bring ADM’s expertise in flavors and complete nutrition solutions to help expand the universe of applications in which Air Protein’s technology can be used. To sustainably feed a growing global population, we need a broad protein ecosystem, from animal to plant to other novel sources. ADM is proud to work with start-ups and major consumer brands to leverage our full pantry of capabilities and expand opportunities that innovative technologies present.”

Before entering the SDA, ADM has served as a supporter of Air Protein through the investment of Series A and SAFE funding, along with others, including the Ford Foundation, Barclays Sustainable Impact Capital, Plum Alley, and GV (formerly Google Ventures), Air Protein has raised US$107 million in cumulative capital. With the funding, Air Protein has accelerated the expansion of scientists, manufacturing and food experts and the construction of its state-of-the-art Air Farm in San Leandro, California.

Scaling protein
Growing proteins depends on highly unpredictable factors, including weather, geography, politics, global agriculture supply chain costs, limited natural resources and manufacturing disruptions.

Dr. Lisa Dyson, founder and CEO of Air Protein, tells us that its farms are self-contained systems requiring only air, water, and energy to grow our protein, creating virtually no disruptions and predictable costs.

“Air Protein Farms decouple protein production from the supply chain and can be built virtually anywhere, in any climate. Our process is carbon negative and can help achieve Scope 3 emission goals faster,” she says.

Moreover, consumers are demanding better taste and textures in next-generation foods. Dyson believes that by applying a range of culinary techniques to Air Protein (e.g., cooking, cracking and fermenting), the company has produced a range of flavors, tastes, textures and nutritional attributes that allows us to craft meats and other protein-rich foods.

“What we are creating is a new way of making food that is both sustainable and nutritious using only air, water, and energy. Air Protein is rich in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, contains 20 amino acids, including all nine essential amino acids and has twice the amino acids of soybeans.”

“It contains more protein per kg and is free from GMOs, pesticides, herbicides, hormones and antibiotics,” she adds. Lab girl
The new agreement will provide mutually exclusive rights for ADM and Air Protein to collaborate to build and operate the world’s first Air Protein commercial-scale plant.

“Air Protein is excited to extend our relationship with ADM, which has been a strong supporter and collaborator in our mutual mission to provide innovative protein solutions that can sustainably feed the growing global population,” outlines Dyson.

She believes that ADM’s continued commitment to building a more sustainable food system has helped Air Protein accelerate and scale its Bay Area Air Farm and other growth initiatives.

Dyson also shares that Air Protein successfully concluded an important regulatory review confirming its protein is GRAS, noting that it “represents one more important milestone on our journey to provide consumers with the protein of the future.”

In a previous interview with FoodIngredientsFirst, Leticia Goncalves, president of global foods for ADM, detailed how innovation driven by future-forward brands such as Air Protein is transforming how the industry will feed a growing global population sustainably.

In recent years, foods made from air and electricity have been tipped to develop a “new era of food diversity,” including developments from Finnish food-tech company Solar Foods.

By Elizabeth Green


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