Nourish Ingredients, the Canberra, Australia-based maker of tastier and sustainable animal-free fats, announced an $11 million initial funding round. Horizons Ventures, a VC fund backed by Li Ka-shing with early investments in companies like Impossible Foods and Zoom, co-led the investment with Main Sequence Ventures, the deep tech venture capital firm founded by Australia’s national science agency CSIRO. This funding will help the team expand their facilities and scale up production to meet increasing customer demand.
The popularity of plant-based meat alternative food products has grown substantially in the past few years. Manufacturers of these alternative protein foodstuffs have to this point relied on quickly-dwindling supplies of palm and coconut oils to provide nutritional fats to their products. Simply put, existing stores of these materials cannot scale to meet growing consumer demand, not to mention the devastating environmental implications of extracting these oils from their natural sources.
“We at Nourish know that the plant-based food industry is young, growing quickly, and ripe for disruption – while so many companies have focused on the creation of these alternative proteins, no one has put the effort that we have into tinkering with the fats,” says Dr. James Petrie, CEO and co-founder of Nourish Ingredients. “Right now, people eating these alternative protein products are getting just that – an alternative experience where the difference between animal fats and traditionally used animal-free fats is easily discernible. Our technology gives these foodmakers the ability to offer more sustainable alternative protein products without having to sacrifice on taste, which is ultimately very appealing to the end consumer.”
Nourish Ingredients have developed a proprietary fermentation process that mimics the molecular structure of animal fats without having to use animal products or traditional materials like coconut or palm oils. Additionally, their unique process allows them to tailor flavor profiles and mouth-feel properties to acutely mirror any number of animal proteins including seafood, pork, beef and chicken products. The end product results in a highly customizable food product that tastes better than existing alternative protein offerings and isn’t reliant upon unsustainable processes.
“As active investors in the alternative protein space, we realize that animal-free fats that replicate the taste of traditional meat, poultry and seafood products are the next breakthrough in the industry,” said Phil Morle, partner at Main Sequence Ventures. “Nourish have discovered how to do just that in a way that’s sustainable and incredibly tasty, and we couldn’t be happier to join them at this early stage.”
Nourish is led by co-founders Dr. James Petrie and Dr. Ben Leita who met in 2013 while working as scientists at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). Petrie formerly specialized in new crop development and spearheaded the creation of omega-3 canola, the world’s first plant-based and sustainable source of omega-3. Leita is an experienced manager and chemical engineer whose past work includes the creation of a bio-based bottle for PepsiCo. During their time at CSIRO, James and Ben recognized the market need for sustainable non-animal fats in the booming plant-based industry and realized they could solve it by applying their wealth of deep scientific and technological knowledge to launch Nourish Ingredients.
“We learned so much during that journey – from basic research through to GMO deregulation with Nuseed,” said Nourish Ingredients co-founder and CEO James Petrie. “We’ve rebuilt and internalized that successful lipid engineering team working under CSIRO Agriculture Chief Research Scientist Surinder Singh through IP portfolio construction and defense.”
“Horizons Ventures is thrilled to be working with James and Ben in their pursuit to revolutionize how alternative protein products are made where it has the biggest impact on taste – the fats,” said Chris Liu of Horizons Ventures. “It’s fantastic to have the opportunity again to help create an entirely new market category, and the team at Nourish is developing something that will completely change how we think about these products for the benefit of the consumer, the planet, and the companies developing them.”
Founded in 2019 by former CSIRO scientists, Nourish Ingredients was created to offer a better solution to animal fats. Backed by plant-based innovators Main Sequence Ventures and Horizons Ventures, Nourish Ingredients co-develops sustainable, animal-free fats suitable for any flavor profile. Using a patent-pending fermentation process, Nourish delivers a sustainable product without sacrificing taste to a growing market of alternative protein food brands.