Using microorganisms Using cell factories like yeast and fungi to produce animal proteins, Pat Brown and his former team at Impossible Foods pioneered the modern precision fermentation industry.
Within a few years, Clara Foods, Gelator, and Perfect Day were using the technique to produce a variety of egg, dairy, and collagen ingredients. In the year By the late 2010s, these early movers had raised hundreds of millions of dollars and dozens of other startups followed in their footsteps.
Over-reliance on the narrative of power
Today, his promise to the industry is being recognized. Environmentalists like Georges Monbiot are declaring that precision distillation “may be the most important green technology of all time.” Its proponents see it as a promising solution to the limited supply of conventional animal products.
Given the enthusiasm, investors and commentators are encouraging companies to start large-scale production ASAP. And so, the industry’s spotlight is now fixed on: How do we build enough capacity to meet future demand that could rise to tens of millions of tons by 2030? A stimulating and undoubtedly important question.
In order to make the economics of high-volume commodity food products sound, the precision fermentation industry would do well to focus on a few sectors.
However, this overwhelming single focus is a concern. It seems to indicate: the economics of a real flat unit have basically been solved, and all that’s left is to build the factories. Eventually we will need many more factories, yes.
And a proper fermentation sector should not be a necessary precondition for pursuing the industrialization of comprehensive bioproduction, to surpass animal agriculture. But we must be honest with the science, the critical work to be done in the real world of affordable animal-free alternatives is not simply building or enabling capacity, but designing new or radically improved production systems.
I’ll let you in on an open secret: leading scientists and technologists from industry and academia tell me—often silently and sometimes just off the record—that the economics of food-grade fermentation are unmatched. with raw milk or eggs.
This problem, they warn, will not be solved simply by scaling up to larger tanks. In the best case, scaling up production to larger tank sizes would reduce costs by 35% to 40%, rather than the multiple reductions required.