Michroma, a San Francisco-based start-up that uses fungal biofactories to produce natural food colors and flavors, recently raised $6.4 million in a venture-backed seed round and is now backed by Danone, Grupo We are in negotiations with major consumers such as Bimbo and NotCo. , with FDA approval to bring sustainable products to market over the next two years.
Co-founded in 2019 by Ricky Cassini and Dr. Mauricio Braia, Michroma uses precision fermentation, an increasingly popular technique for large-scale protein re-engineering, to extract high-performance colorants from mushrooms. I am making good use of it.
“We are harnessing the power and diversity of filamentous fungi in our synbio platform. By combining our proprietary fungal chassis strains with precision fermentation, we are able to achieve high yields and high value never before seen in the biotech industry. complex molecules can be produced,” Braia said in a statement.
The company has so far developed a new red colorant called Red+, which is heat-resistant and stable across the pH spectrum of foods, with blue and white variants still in development.
According to Michroma, these properties allow it to retain its color during intensive processes such as pasteurization, cooking and extrusion. This is a great advantage compared to other natural dyes such as betalains, carminates and anthocyanins.
However, other natural alternatives such as insects are not suitable for vegan consumers. To make matters worse, US-approved synthetic colors, typically made with petroleum for use in confectionery and baked goods, pose significant health risks. We are calling for a further ban on the base synthetic dye Red 3. Red 3 is already prohibited from use in cosmetics, foods, ingested drugs and supplements.
These benefits bode well for Michroma as consumer demand for clean-label natural products increases. Market researchers expect the $2 billion global natural food coloring market to reach $4.1 billion by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 7.4% over the next decade. is predicted.
“Our vegan, kosher and halal certified products are more stable than current natural solutions,” says Cassini. We also control all conditions of our growing media and eliminate the use of pesticides and pesticides. ”
Sustainability is also central to Michroma’s business. Because it feeds the fungi with residues from the agricultural industry. “Mushrooms are nature’s best decomposers,” added Cassini. “That way, we can recycle waste into valuable raw materials.”
Favorable trends towards biotechnology
After raising seed funding led by General Mills-backed food tech VC Supply Change Capital,
Other investors include FEN Ventures, Boro Capital, The Mills Fabrica, Portfolia’s Food & Ag Tech Fund, New Luna Ventures, Siddhi Capital, Groundswell Ventures, and HackCapital. Angel investors Allen Minor, Jun Ueki, Steve Zulcher (affiliated Nippon Forum), Guillermo Rosenthal, Franco Goitia, Pablo Pula and Matt Travisano. Existing investors are his SOSV, his IndieBio and his GRIDX.
Noramay Cadena, managing director of Supply Change Capital, which became a member of Michroma’s board of directors as a result of the investment, commented: We are thrilled with the speed and skill they are building capacity. Additionally, we are working to overcome the current disruptions in global supply chains. With that in mind, Michroma is the foundation for the sustainable raw materials of the future. ”
Cassini said Michroma now outsources production in Europe and plans to clear U.S. regulatory hurdles within the next two years, reflecting the FDA’s current stance on cultivated meat. “Currently, there is a trend towards biotechnology, and both sectors have similar production processes: one is the fermentation of mammalian cells, the other is the fermentation of bacteria, yeast and fungi,” he said. explained. “But to ensure safety, there is also a specific process for approving colors in the United States.
“My dream is to spread our natural ingredients to companies all over the world,” said Cassini.