Fungi + Fermentation = Protein of the Future 🧪🥩
How Chicago-based alt protein innovator Nature's Fynd is using a tiny fungal powerhouse to change the alt protein game [GreenGut Weekly Find 12/18]
Happy Friday, fellow nerds! Who else got dumped on with snow? 🙋🏻♀️⛄ Digging out here in the Northeast is par for the course every winter, but the first real snowfall is always a bit of a surprise.
Speaking of, you may have noticed (or not; that’s okay, too!) that Monday’s newsletter…wasn’t. Let’s attribute that to me not taking the age-old sage advice to never write the full draft in the online editing platform. 🤦🏻♀️ My apologies. I sincerely didn’t have it in me to re-write the entire thing after I discovered it had met an untimely demise somewhere in the ether of the cloud.
But I’m back now with this week’s GreenGut Weekly Find—the last one before this feature takes an indefinite hiatus in the new year. This week, we’re looking at a very unique player in the alt-protein scene: Nature’s Fynd.
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A Fermentation Transformation
The term “novel protein” gets tossed around a lot these days, but none can lay claim to the title quite like Fy protein from Nature’s Fynd.
It all started when Dr. Mark Kozubel, the company’s co-founder, discovered a microscopic member of the fungal kingdom hanging out in an acidic hot spring in Yellowstone National Park. 🌋 Dubbed Fusarium strain flavolapis, this extremophile knows how to be efficient—a quality that Nature’s Fynd has leveraged to produce Fy.
Fermentation unlocks the true power of this tiny microbe 🦠 and create “mats” of protein filaments that can grow under pretty much any conditions. From there, the protein can be quickly (and minimally) processed into solid, liquid or powder form using regular food production methods.
The result? A complete protein ingredient suitable for use in a variety of alternative protein products. 🍗 The filaments add a “muscle meat” texture, something the alt protein community has been searching for as startups begin to tackle the challenge of creating realistic plant-based whole cuts.
But Fy does more than give protein-hungry gym bros a boost. 🏋🏻♂️ It enhances the nutrient profile of any product with a dose of fiber and important minerals, all inherent in the protein itself.
It’s a lot of output for much less input compared to animal meat—and it doesn’t require nearly as much growth space as common proteins like pea or soy.
Bringing Out the “Big Guns” for Growth
Nature’s Fynd has been on a fundraising kick as of late—their most recent round netted them $45 million 🚀 and came along with the announcement of appointing new team members from several prominent food giants.
On the list are bright minds who have worked at:
Archer Daniels Midland
With these new team members in place, the company seeks to scale the Fy production process, continue innovating, expand marketing and sales and begin producing its own line of plant-based foods for consumers. 🍔🌭Currently, they’re eyeing a 2021 launch and planning to expand into markets beyond the U.S.
Because Fy can provide boost nutrition while supporting the move toward cleaner labels, it has the potential to act as the foundation for a whole new era of healthier, more sustainable alt proteins.
Onward to More Novel Protein Products
As a plant-based, vegan, healthy, sustainable and clean protein alternative, 🥗 Fy hits all the important touchpoints in the alt protein movement. Nature’s Fynd is already starting to capitalize on this with products like chicken nuggets,🐔 hot dogs and hamburgers, but the future holds a lot of promise for further innovation.
The company’s recently opened production facility on the south side of Chicago will get a boost from recent investments. With an eye on new meat and dairy alternatives for the coming year, 🥛🥩 the expanded staff is planning to commercialize its own products built on Fy protein.
So be on the lookout—fungal and fermented proteins are just starting to ramp up in the plant-based market, and Fy is making its move to secure a place on consumers’ plates. 🍽
I’ve been watching Nature’s Fynd since they rebranded from Sustainable Bioproducts in March, and it’s exciting to see them grow. They’re among a handful of alt protein startups doing something that truly counts as unique. 🦠
I believe fungal proteins will have a big role to play in the plant-based space in 2021 and beyond. 🍄 They’re versatile, easy to grow and far less resource-intensive than other protein sources, and they offer a pretty hardcore nutritional profile.
If this is something you’d like me to take a deeper dive into, let me know! 👇🏻👇🏻
And just a head’s up—I’m on Christmas vacation next week, so there won’t be another newsletter until the 28th. Everyone enjoy your holiday, however you’re celebrating this year. Whip up some (dairy-free) hot chocolate, ☕ don your ugly sweater if that’s your thing and take time to relax.
You deserve it. It’s been a completely insane year. 😵🤪
🎄 Merry Christmas! 🎄