Fermentation companies and investors

This database includes companies and investors using fermentation to produce meat, milk, eggs, and seafood. For more extensive profiles and sms-notifications about career and investment opportunities, sign up here.

Fermentation is the process of using fungi, bacteria, mycelium, microalgae, and other microbes to create non-animal-based meat, dairy, and eggs as well as functional ingredients for plant-based and cultivated foods. Comprising an alt-protein pillar in their own right, fermented food products also enable the production of plant-based and cultivated meat, eggs, and dairy and enhance these foods’ taste, texture, and performance.

A technology whose history stretches back millennia, fermentation has long been used to create and preserve foods and beverages in addition to improving their nutritional value and bioavailability. Examples of fermented foods include cheese, yogurt, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, and kimchi, as well as beer, wine, soy sauce, and kombucha. Since the 1980s, the food industry has also used fermentation techniques to create ingredients that displace animal-based products. Recombinant chymosin has rendered the use of calf’s rennet in cheesemaking all but obsolete, and many flavoring components and the majority of vitamins found in nutritional supplements and fortified processed foods are now produced through fermentation. Today’s emerging fermentation-focused companies are building on the technology’s long history to create innovative solutions tailored to the rapidly expanding alt-protein sector.

There are three types of fermentation: traditional, precision, and biomass. Each is suited to the production of certain foods and/or ingredients. Examples of companies leveraging fermentation technology to develop animal-free meat, milk, eggs, and ingredients include: Clara Foods (egg proteins), Geltor (collagen and gelatin), Motif (functional ingredients for plant-based foods\), MycoTechnology (fungi-based plant-based food ingredient), Perfect Day (milk proteins), Quorn (mycoprotein meat), Wild Earth (fermentation-derived pet food).

Related terms include: novel proteins, fermentation-derived.

The production of fermented meat, dairy, eggs, and ingredients does not involve the factory farming or slaughtering of animals, requires significantly fewer natural resources, emits substantially lower levels of greenhouse gases (GHGs), and relies significantly less on long-distance transport than the production of animal-based food products. Important also, fermented proteins can deliver all the nutritional benefits of animal products without antibiotics or hormones. They are also poised to help combat protein deficiencies among what researchers including the Cornell Alliance for Science have estimated are more than 1 billion people. As the Good Food Institute (GFI) has explained, “Fermentation will enable companies to meet the growing demand for protein at a cost that is competitive with or lower than that of animal products and potentially lift millions out of malnutrition.”

The fermented food and ingredient space is swiftly expanding, and investment in the space is increasing in parallel. In 2019, global investment in fermentation companies reached nearly 60% of investment in plant-based companies. As of September 2020, investment in fermentation companies had already reached its highest annual level.  

Used in a sentence: These chicken-free nuggets are delicious! I can’t believe how much mycoprotein can mimic the taste and texture of animal-based meat--without any antibiotics, hormones or animal meat-borne pathogens like listeria or salmonella. I can’t wait to find fermented beef, seafood, and dairy products on the shelves of a store near me.

“By 2030, the number of cows in the U.S. will have fallen by 50% and the cattle farming industry will be all but bankrupt. All other livestock industries will suffer a similar fate, which the knock-on effects for crop farmers and businesses throughout the value chain will be severe. This is the result of rapid advances in precision biology that have allowed us to make huge strides in...fermentation, a process that allows us to program micro-organisms to produce almost any complex organic molecule." -- RethinkX

Pivot Food Investment encourages institutions to invest in companies developing and/or marketing fermented meat, milk, eggs, and ingredients. If you’re an investor, journalist, or researcher looking for more information about animal-free fermented food products, or if you’d like add your fermentation company to our list, send us an email at companies@PivotFood.org.