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FPP Chicago Speaker Interview: Julian Melchiorri, CEO & Founder, Arborea

March 19, 2024

A multidisciplinary entrepreneur with a background in engineering, biomimicry and innovation, Julian Melchiorri is the CEO & Founder of Arborea. Here, he discusses the “virtually unlimited” potential of his photosynthetic approach to protein production

The panel discussion that Julian Melchiorri is participating in is on ‘Horizontal collaboration that could supercharge progress by breaking down silos’. And throughout the course of his work at the net-zero proteins and ingredients company he founded, Arborea, Melchiorri has lost count of the many silos he’s noticed in this sector. “We see most players trying to control every single step of the value chain, from strain selection down to the final sale of a branded product to consumers,” he states.

Melchiorri believes that reducing this extreme level of control will require a three-pronged approach. “Firstly, having the ability and willingness to set up win-win partnerships along the value chain will be crucial to abate barriers to achieve competitive price and quality for more sustainable solutions,” he says. “Next, profiting from each other’s expertise – be it cultivation, extraction, application, or branding – will deliver viable products to the market faster, increasing competitive edge and decreasing risks.” The third point he notes is that, “Joint development agreements and joint ventures are probably the best tools to drive such collaborations effectively as they allow the setup of mutually beneficial partnerships and spread the benefits in a clear manner.”

With that in mind, how can Arborea help to foster progress along the value chain? “We can use our photosynthetic platform to provide truly sustainable proteins that are colorless, with a neutral taste and at an unbeatable cost-in-use,” Melchiorri explains. “We can supply our ingredients to any food producing company seeking highly functional proteins that are cost effective, safe, scalable and carbon-neutral.”

We can supply our ingredients to any food producing company seeking highly functional proteins that are cost effective, safe, scalable and carbon-neutral

Illustrating the need for collaboration, Melchiorri also points out how Arborea can partner with players along the entire chain. “Specifically, we partner mostly with food producing corporations on application development and with other food ingredient suppliers on extraction scale-up and market development.”

Melchiorri believes that the market potential for his firm’s offerings is “virtually unlimited”. Going in to more detail, he says, “We deliver highly functional soluble proteins. Our products meet key customer requirements, have global regulatory approval, and can scale sustainably throughout the centuries to come.

“That’s why we believe the ultimate market potential for our products and platform is enormous, keeping in mind that microbial photosynthesis has already been feeding trillions of animals for billions of years and that our platform can harness thousands of photosynthetic microbial crops, each one with different proteins and functionalities.”

In terms of specific projects that illustrate the application of his innovative technology, Melchiorri cites three recent examples. “Current collaborative projects with partners involve replacing animal-based proteins such as egg white and whole egg in bakery applications; providing binding and gelling properties in alternative meat products to replace synthetic or not clean ingredients; and increasing protein content and ensuring nutritional balance in dairy products.”

These are impressive examples, but Melchiorri is not stopping there. He reveals that Arborea is currently building and commissioning its first commercial mass-production facility while “working on next-generation functional protein isolates optimizing formulations for an even broader versatility”.

Looking even further ahead and assessing the overall industry, Melchiorri predicts that over the next decade we’ll see protein deriving from microorganisms (such as Arborea’s photosynthetic platform) becoming a key mass-market solution alongside traditional ones. “This transition will be mainly driven by the need for more sustainable, cost-effective and better performing protein that can feed the world without costing the Earth,” he concludes.

Julian will be taking part in a panel in at The Future of Protein Production Chicago called, ‘Horizontal collaboration that could supercharge progress by breaking down silos', which takes place at McCormick Place on 24/25 April 2024. Book your tickets today to come and hear a further +85 speakers, 30 presentations, eight panel discussions and network with +400 other attendees. Click here

If you have any questions or would like to get in touch with us, please email info@futureofproteinproduction.com

About the Speaker

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