July 13, 2021

How do we feed the entire world and how do we feed it well? This is a challenging task for many companies, scientists and public administrations today. Knowing this issue, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Al Gore invested US$158 million into a start-up company Nature’s Fynd, based in Chicago.

Nature’s Fynd works at producing a form of protein able to create vegan meat in large quantities. It would not only have nutritious and taste qualities. It would also help preserving the environment as explained by Thomas Jonas, Founder of Nature’s Fynd during a SIAL Paris podcast recorded in 2020. 

As the world’s population is set to reach 10 billion individuals by 2050, the challenge is to be able to feed them all without further exhausting the earth’s resources, which are already stretched to their limits.

The recent investment of US$158 million by Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Al Gore into Nature’s Fynd, a small Chicago-based company is showing the way to a potential solution. In the SIAL podcast #OWN THE CHANGE founder Thomas Jonas revealed how he had found what could be considered a “miracle” solution: a newly identified microbe in Yellowstone park. 

A Fy™ to feed the world

“We discovered a sort of fungi prospering in a challenging environment of acid volcanic sources of Yellowstone,” he said in the SIAL podcast interview. “This ultra-resistant bacterium found in Yellowstone Park is a complete protein with a stringy muscle-like organism, similar to the filaments of traditional meat.”

“It can consequently be used to produce meat or dairy-like alternatives that could answer the challenge of feeding the 10 billion people we are expected to be by 2050,” explained Jonas. 

Since the Covid pandemic, there has been a marked increase in demand for plant-based foods. In the United States, the numbers speak for themselves: the alternative food industry boomed in 2020, with 27% growth in retail sales. Its total market value reached already US$7 billion, according to the Plant-Based Foods Association (PBFA). 

“Almond or soybean milk now represents 15% to 20% of dairy products in the USA. Nobody could have predicted such a number ten or even five years ago. The new protein form could reach a 10%, 15% or 20% market share of meat products in the future,” stressed Jonas. 

Replacing or at least reducing meat consumption would be very beneficial for the planet too. Since the beginning of the year, humans have consumed more than 262 million tons of animal meat, twice as much as 30 years ago. Such a figure requires vast amounts of water, land and food for animals.

For Jonas, the production of the new proteins could help drastically reduce the damages caused by extensive agricultural activities and help to reach some of the objectives towards creating a sustainable environment.

“We can easily produce two tons of vegetal meat in a single production site replacing thousands of hectares of land. It also helps reduce logistics costs; pollution and the complexity of distribution. It could also generate new employment.,” added Jonas.

“We already have a production site in Chicago. We could very easily do the same in Shanghai or in Paris. Production efficiency guarantees also manageable costs. This will ultimately be reflected in prices paid by the consumer.”

Of course the ultimate test is how the meat alternatives actually taste and whether they offer consumers the same experience as meat and dairy produce. Jonas is convinced that the new protein will have the same taste and texture. “We are able to provide the pleasure of tasting while guaranteeing a healthy, nutritious product which does not require the use of pesticides or antibiotics,” he told the SIAL podcast.

SIAL Paris is the undisputed meeting place of the worldwide food community and the ideal platform to highlight these emerging trends that aim to make our planet more sustainable as well as making quality food accessible for everyone. 

SIAL Paris takes place 15-19th October 2022.

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