WESTCHESTER, ILL. — Ingredion, Inc. is leading a Series B funding round in Clara Foods, a San Francisco-based biotech start-up that creates egg whites without the chickens and focuses on animal-free animal proteins. Other investors involved in the funding round include Hemisphere Ventures, SOS Ventures and B37, a strategic partner of Grupo Bimbo S.A.B. de C.V. Financial terms of the round were not disclosed.
Ingredion also has entered a global partnership agreement with Clara Foods to develop, market and distribute multiple proteins derived from yeast that are traditionally found in eggs. These functional protein ingredient products will enable food and beverage companies to produce products with higher levels of protein, unique characteristics and lower costs without the inclusion of animal-derived inputs, Clara Foods said.
Clara Foods’ proprietary microbial fermentation technology is designed to reduce the production and environmental costs of animal proteins by producing functional and nutritional proteins from microorganisms. To create its proteins, Clara Foods mixes yeast and sugar and uses advanced yeast engineering and fermentation technologies to selectively cultivate the desired strain of yeast. The process culminates in a protein tailor-made for its purpose. The company offers egg albumen for baking, environmentally friendly antimicrobials and pure protein.
“We’re excited to be working with Clara Foods as they have pioneered groundbreaking technology that allows a more sustainable and cost-effective production of proteins traditionally found in animal-derived products,” said Tony DeLio, senior vice-president of corporate strategy and chief innovation officer of Ingredion. “We see tremendous need and increasing demand for highly functional animal-free proteins in multiple applications, including foods, beverages and supplements.”
The investment in Clara Foods complements Ingredion’s December 2018 announcement that it would invest $140 million to expand its portfolio of plant-based proteins, including pulse flours, concentrates and isolates.
“This latest investment will further drive our growth strategy, expand our portfolio of protein solutions and introduce novel ingredients to consumers who are looking for sustainable, animal-free and healthy alternatives,” said James P. Zallie, president and chief executive officer of Ingredion.
The new round of financing will speed Clara Foods’ commercialization of its chicken-less egg proteins, expand research and development capabilities and allow the company to expand into other animal protein alternatives beyond its initial focus on egg white proteins.
“We see extraordinary value in partnering with Ingredion to distribute our products globally and look forward to jointly transforming the status quo,” said Arturo Elizondo, founder and c.e.o. of Clara Foods. “Ingredion has been a global supplier to the food industry for more than a century and is as committed as Clara to satiating the massive unmet consumer demand for animal-free proteins. Their global reach across 120 countries and their applications expertise will dramatically expand Clara’s ability to disrupt the protein market as the world’s leading animal-free, animal protein ingredient manufacturer.”
This new round of funding comes after four years of Clara Foods developing its protein production platform, after which it raised $15 million in Series A funding led by The Production Board in 2016.