December 8, 2022

Clean Food Group is a step closer to commercially producing a viable yeast-based alternative to palm oil now that Germany’s Doehler Ventures has made an undisclosed investment in the UK-based food tech business.

Having developed a sustainable “bioequivalent alternative” to palm oil, Clean Food can scale up with Doehler Ventures’ help as part of a technical collaboration agreement between the companies. Clean Food, which develops cultivated food, claims its “lab grown” cellular-based alternative could help reduce the environmental impact of a range of palm-based ingredients. These can be found in nearly half of all packaged products found on supermarket shelves, according to the tech company.

The global palm oil market was valued at $51 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach $66 billion by 2027. However, palm oil production continues to be a major driver of deforestation in highly biodiverse habitats, impacting critically endangered species like orangutangs, pygmy elephants and Sumatran rhinos. “This process combined with the conversion of carbon-rich peat soils, is issuing millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change,” said Clean Food Group in a statement.

Technology developed by University of Bath

Clean Food aims to be part of the solution to this environmental crisis. In Q1 2022 the company acquired relevant intellectual property from the University of Bath where the technology has been developed over the past eight years by Professor Chris Chuck and his team.

Prior to this, in excess of £4.4 million had been spent developing the technology to the stage where it is ready for scale-up and commercialisation. Before the Doehler deal, Clean Food had signed a two-year collaboration agreement with the university to scale the technology and Chuck had joined Clean Food Group as a technical advisor. He leads a team of scientists at a dedicated Clean Food Group laboratory and pilot plant at the university.

According to Crunchbase, in August, Clean Food picked up £1.65 million in a seed funding round led by Agronomics, a listed company focused on cellular agriculture. At the time, Agronomics held a 35% interest in the company. Other early investors include AIM-listed Seed Innovations Limited, a global food and beverage company, as well as venture capital investors.

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