BOSTON — Motif Ingredients has made its debut following its spin-off from Ginkgo Bioworks. The new business uses biotechnology to recreate proteins from dairy, egg and meat that may be used in the formulation of alternatives to animal-based products.
The new venture has received $90 million in financing from such investors as Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Louis Dreyfus Co., Fonterra and Viking Global Investors. Jonathan McIntyre, a former senior vice-president of research and development for PepsiCo, Inc., has been named chief executive officer.
Founded in 2009, Boston-based Ginkgo Bioworks is a privately-held biotechnology company that designs, engineers, develops, tests and licenses organisms across multiple markets. The company raised $275 million in a Series D round in December 2017, according to Crunchbase. Motif was built on Ginkgo Bioworks’ platform for genetic engineering to produce vitamins, amino acids, enzymes and flavors through fermentation with genetically engineered yeasts and bacteria in a process similar to brewing beer.
Consumer demand for alternative foods such as meat substitutes and plant-based beverages grew 17% last year, with food companies innovating to keep up with demand, but obstacles remain to create products that maintain the taste, health profile and integrity of their animal-based counterparts, according to Motif Ingredients. The company intends to offer solutions to the problem by bringing the nutrition and taste consumers demand to the market at an accessible price that mass scale requires.
“Sustainability and accessible nutrition are among the biggest challenges facing the food industry today,” Mr. McIntyre said. “Consumers are demanding mindful food options, but there’s a reigning myth that healthy and plant-based foods must come at a higher price or cannot taste or function like the animal-based foods they aim to replicate. Biotechnology and fermentation is our answer, and Motif will be key to propelling the next food revolution with affordable, sustainable and accessible ingredients that meet the standards of chefs, food developers and visionary brands.”
Judith Swales, chief operating officer of New Zealand dairy processor Fonterra’s global consumer and food service business, said, “To help feed the world and meet consumers’ evolving food preferences, traditional and complementary nutritional sources need to co-exist. As a global dairy nutrition company, we see plant- and fermentation-produced nutrition as complementary to animal protein and, in particular, cow’s milk. Our partnership with Motif enables us to be part of this emerging area and help meet the nutritional needs of the world’s growing population.”