The way we produce food and consume it is going through a radical change, with many new ideas pointing to the fact that we need to think more about sustainability, animal rights, and eliminating food waste.
We interviewed Dr. Chenfeng Lu, President and CEO of Fybraworks Foods. Founded in 2020, Fybraworks claims to be the first company to produce precision-fermentation-based meat protein ingredients, something that can be a real game-changer in the industry.
Fybraworks aims to disrupt the $1.4 trillion traditional agriculture-based meat market by growing real animal meat proteins in microbes through a fermentation process. This results in growing real animal meat proteins that are cheaper to produce, free of hormones and antibiotics, and can be produced rapidly in a laboratory.
We are the world’s first company to develop precision-fermentation-based meat protein ingredients to deliver products that are lower cost, have better taste, and have better nutrition than existing technologies.
As a B2B company, we’ll sell our precision fermentation-based real animal proteins to food manufacturers and food companies to formulate high-quality meat alternatives.
Despite being such a challenging year, it turned out to be a great time to start a business in the alternative protein industry. The pandemic really exposed the supply chain vulnerabilities in traditional meat agriculture, particularly the meatpacking process.
Customers, food companies, and restaurants also felt the pinch in the volatility of meat prices. As a result, the growth of plant-based meat jumped from 14% in 2019 to 19% in 2020. The pandemic actually brought the world closer. We all live on zoom and you feel the same closeness whether you talk to investors or colleagues in Singapore or Minnesota. So, for startups, I think 2020 presented more opportunities than hurdles.
Through delivering real meat protein ingredients, our process is completely animal-free. This process piggybacks on the host machinery to grow meat protein inside microbes. The materials used are simply water, sugar, organic nitrogen sources (such as yeast extract), salts, and the starting culture.
Since we’re using microbes that grow very fast, we’re able to make our meat protein in just three days. We understand that the price is very important, so we’re working hard in the lab to drive down the cost by improving productivity and switching to leaner culture media.
Our products have identical amino acid sequences to that of real meat proteins and they have excellent performance in meat applications. The process is animal-free and we save a ton of water resources, land usage, and CO₂ emissions.
When it comes to challenges, we’re confident we can overcome anything technical. The biggest challenges are probably customer perceptions around these novel proteins and government regulations in certain geographies.
By 2050, I envision the alternative protein industry will become mainstream, and the majority of the customers will switch to an animal-free diet that’s healthier for the planet and their own well-being.
Very shortly, we’re raising a seed round of funding to scale up our production so that we can send potential customers enough samples for them to evaluate. Also, we’re planning to start the regulatory process for our product in North America.