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IngredientWerks produces 'Meaty Corn', proving it can reduce the high-cost of key alternative protein ingredients

July 24, 2023

IngredientWerks, a leading molecular farming company unlocking the vast potential of plants to produce animal proteins for human health and nutrition, has announced it has achieved a major milestone for the alternative protein industry by producing a proprietary corn expressing high levels of bovine myoglobin.

As a high-value heme protein and key animal replacement ingredient, bovine myoglobin is used to mimic the taste, texture and aroma of meat in alternative protein applications. Using corn as a 'manufactory' for the production of high value proteins like its 'Meaty Corn', IngredientWerks leverages the immense capacity of the US agricultural cultivation and processing infrastructure to produce these valuable proteins at industrial scale, with a carbon neutral footprint, and at a fraction of the cost to produce the majority of these alternative animal proteins today.

In Q2 of this year, the company verified its myoglobin production platform significantly exceeded its initial target expression level of heme at 10mg per gram of corn, a level which the company calculates confers an unprecedented low cost for heme production. Additionally, this achievement represents the first successful expression of myoglobin beef in corn, a plant-based, molecular farming application. Accordingly, the company has protected this proprietary application with corresponding patent application filings. As a heme-binding protein traditionally found in the muscle tissue of cows, myoglobin is an important taste additive critical for creating meatier flavors in the growing alternative protein space which the company believes represents a US$1 billion global market opportunity.

"This achievement is to the alternative protein industry as is the advancement in lithium-ion battery technology to the electric vehicle market – an engine that creates quality, affordable, and sustainable value and helps drives consumer adoption," said Matt Plavan, CEO of IngredientWerks. "By reaching these expressions levels of myoglobin in corn, we believe we've solved for three of the greatest challenges facing the alternative protein markets today – the production of high-quality, low-cost animal proteins at scale."

In less than a year since emerging from stealth mode, IngredientWerks has pioneered a paradigm shift in scaling animal protein production as compared to incumbent methods like precision fermentation or cultivated meat. This new approach arrives at a critical time when meeting the increasing consumer demand for parity in cost of alternative meats is challenged by capacity bottlenecks and high processing costs typical of precision fermentation or lab grown manufacturing to produce these proteins at scale.

"Plant-based and alternative foods are solidifying their place in the mainstream diet," said Plavan. "As they become more readily available in stores and on menus, consumers are setting the bar for taste and cost higher than ever before. That means the production of quality, affordable, accessible and sustainable ingredients are critical in this new era of food production. I'm continually amazed at the ingenuity and dedication of the IngredientWerks research team, and excited to bring this valuable solution to the industry!"

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