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Live Green Co adds precision fermentation to enhance recommendations

Dive Brief:

  • The Live Green Co. added a new precision fermentation division, adding protein development to its reformulation toolbox. This will allow Live Green to add protein possibilities to its Charaka artificial intelligence and machine learning platform.
  • The precision fermentation division has a team of Ph.D.-level scientists, a lab with 100-liter fermentation capacity and partnerships with industry groups and research organizations, the company said. It’s led by Kavish Kumar Jain, a former principal scientist at precision fermentation leader Perfect Day.
  • Precision fermentation is a way to recreate proteins at scale. Companies make genetic changes in a small organism like yeast so that it produces a targeted protein — identical to those created by animals or that are relatively difficult to extract from plants — when fermented.

Dive Insight:

The Live Green Co has been working toward solutions to make plant-based products for both full product design and chemical food additives. And while its Charaka platform can make recommendations of different plants and protein ingredients to replace those that come from animals or chemicals, being able to harness precision fermentation gives the company the ability to present more complete solutions.

At the Charaka platform’s heart is ancestral wisdom. It pulls together the knowledge handed down over generations about the functions and benefits of different plants used in food and beverage traditions in specific cultures or part of the world. It also includes food science data related to these different plants and proteins.  

Live Green Co COO Sasikanth Chemalamudi told Food Navigator that this combination of knowledge sources has given the company some solutions that are difficult to work with. Many of the plant recommendations from Charaka aren’t easily available in commercial form, so precision fermentation gives them the opportunity to make the proteins at scale in a new way.

The power of precision fermentation is starting to revolutionize the food industry. While the best capitalized company in the space is Perfect Day, which made its mark with animal-free whey proteins that are now being used in a variety of CPG products, there are a wide array of uses for the technology. Not all of them are creating proteins usually made by animals.

Oobli, previously known as Joywell Foods, is using precision fermentation to make products using sweet proteins ordinarily found in small amounts in less common tropical fruits. Yali Bio is creating what it sees as better fats for food than those produced by animals or commodity crops. Zero Acre Farms is also using fermentation to make custom cooking oils that are not necessarily found in nature.

Live Green has a large mission ahead of it, and bringing new tools can only help the company achieve its goals. The company partnered with Mexican food giant Sigma last year to produce replacements to additives including methylcellulose and other emulsifiers and gums. These ingredients are often demonized because they have chemical-sounding names. Methylcellulose, a common emulsifier, has in recent years borne the brunt of activists pointing out less-than-natural ingredients in plant-based products. A lawsuit filed against Beyond Meat specifically calls out the ingredient as an example of what the suit says is the brand’s not-quite-all-natural status.

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