USA: AB InBev goes for “animal-free animal protein”

Today, ZX Ventures, the global investment and innovation group of AB InBev, announced a R&D partnership with Clara Foods. The company, headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, is a pioneer in engineering, manufacturing and formulating animal-free, animal proteins as ingredients for the global food and beverage industry thereby decoupling the world's most powerful proteins from the animals that make them. The company derives its name from the Spanish word “clara” for “egg white”.

Leveraging precision fermentation to produce functional and nutritional proteins from microorganisms, Clara is reimagining the factory farm model that underpins industrial animal agriculture with a more sustainable, kinder alternative.

The partnership draws on AB InBev’s centuries of expertise in scaled, food-grade fermentation and downstream processing gained from large-scale brewing processes.

Since the turn of this century, global food demand is expected to increase anywhere between 59% to 98% by 20501, putting increased pressure on natural resources like water and arable land, and conventional food supply systems. This has created a growing need for new solutions to meet the increased demand for food. Through this partnership, ZX Ventures and Clara Foods intend to explore the development of sustainable, animal-free egg protein ‘brewed’ at large scale.

Last month, Clara Foods announced the launch of the first ever animal-free, animal pepsin for commercial use. “Pepsin was the first enzyme to be discovered, and it’s an honor that after 200 years, we can now introduce the world’s first pepsin––made completely animal-free” said Arturo Elizondo, CEO and co-founder of Clara Foods in March. “We’ve been knee-deep in R&D for the last six years building out our technology platform, scaling up, and expanding our product portfolio. Pepsin represents the first of several products coming online, and I could not be more excited. We are creating Food 2.0 and using it to upgrade the food industry, and we’re thrilled to share our breakthrough technology with companies large and small on a global scale.”

The new partnership with ZX Ventures which was announced today is seen as the logical next step in the development of the company.

“Meeting the increased demand for food requires breakthrough solutions built on collaboration and innovation that spans several industry domains – both old and new. The ancient and natural process of fermentation can be further harnessed to help meet future demands in our global food system,” said Patrick O'Riordan, founder & CEO at BioBrew, a technology platform venture in ZX Ventures that is exploring opportunities to apply large-scale fermentation and downstream processing expertise beyond beer. “We look forward to exploring the development of highly-functional, animal-free egg proteins with Clara Foods in a scalable, sustainable and economically viable manner.”

“Humanity needs solutions that match the scale and urgency of our problems. Since day one, Clara has been on a mission to accelerate the world’s transition to animal-free protein, starting with the egg. More than one trillion eggs are consumed globally every year and corporate commitments for cage-free aren’t enough. We’re thrilled to be partnering with the world’s largest fermentation company to work together to enable a kinder, greener, and more delicious future. This partnership is a major step towards realizing our vision,” said Mr. Elizondo. “Working with BioBrew, ZX Ventures, and the broader AB InBev group truly allows us to harness our novel technology and bring it to scale – and the possibilities are immense.”

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