ATLANTA — CP Kelco is partnering with ingredient startup Shiru Inc. to develop plant-based proteins using precision fermentation technology.

Founded in 2019, Emeryville, Calif.-based Shiru combines a precision biofermentation process with machine learning algorithms to discover and create novel plant-based food ingredients. The startup’s discovery platform, Flourish, uses a proprietary database of millions of proteins to find the best functional ingredient for food formulation challenges. Shiru uses precision fermentation and high-throughput screening to produce those ingredients and validate their performance.

CP Kelco will work with Shiru to accelerate product development for several proteins identified by the Flourish platform. It will leverage its fermentation capabilities to scale up the ingredients and further validate their performance in food prototypes by the end of the year.  

The first candidates for the partnership include novel replacements for methylcellulose, which is used as a gelling agent and emulsifier in products such as plant-based meat alternatives. R&D and production teams from both companies already are working together at CP Kelco’s facility in San Diego to support the first prototype runs.

“CP Kelco has embarked on a strategic initiative focused on alternative proteins and innovation to meet evolving market and consumer needs, now and in the future,” said Robert Dunn, senior marketing director and alternative proteins program lead at CP Kelco. “We're delighted to partner with innovators like Shiru, not only to further contribute to sustainable development within the food and beverage industry, but also to accelerate our engagement and learning in the alternative proteins space.”

CP Kelco recently launched a range of natural ingredient solutions for plant-based meat alternative product developers. The series includes fermented gellan gum, upcycled pectin, a carrageenan-based texturizer and an upcycled starch replacer.