Food security gets a boost: Calysta gets $30M from BP for protein-based animal feed from natural gas

June 30, 2019 |

From Menlo Park, California comes big news that alternative protein producer Calysta got a hefty $30 million investment from BP Ventures to support a worldwide rollout of Calysta’s FeedKind protein. Touted as a huge step forward in global food security, Calysta’s sustainable single-cell protein is produced through a proprietary, commercially-validated gas fermentation process using naturally occurring, non-GM microbes with the unique ability to use methane as their energy source. Calysta will use BP’s natural gas as the energy source for their fish and animal feed protein…but the potential could be even bigger if renewable methane could be used.

In today’s Digest, the patented fermentation process used to make FeedKind, BP’s role as natural gas provider, how Calysta’s FeedKind can help meet increasing aquaculture demand in a more sustainable way, the potential to get fish feed from food waste, and more – ready for you now at The Digest online.

The technology and process

Calysta’s patented fermentation process uses no arable land and very little water, and does not compete with the human food chain, meaning more food can be produced with less resources, according to Calysta. It is primarily used currently as an alternative feed ingredient for fish, livestock and pet nutritional products.

During the FeedKind process, a naturally occurring bacteria is grown in a proprietary fermenter using methane as its carbon and energy source. This creates a single cell protein that is harvested and dried prior to being pelletised. The natural fermentation process is similar to the production of yeast for bread. Calysta’s micro-organisms are a naturally occurring component of healthy soils worldwide. FeedKind has no impact on the flavor or texture profile of seafood or animals fed FeedKind.

“In aquaculture, Calysta’s initial market opportunity, FeedKind is seen as a key enabler for growth by reducing reliance on conventional sources of proteins.”

Calysta’s process can help meet the growing demand for feed in the aquaculture and wider agriculture markets without some of the environmental impacts of current sourcing methods. The global aquaculture market is expected to grow up to 25% by 2025, according to BP. The process will help combat overfishing in response to the projected growth. FeedKind protein can be a sustainable substitute for other protein sources currently used – such as fishmeal and soy protein concentrate.

“As the global population grows from 7 billion in 2010 to a projected 9.8 billion in 2050, and incomes grow across the developing world, overall food demand is on course to increase by more than 50 percent, and demand for animal-based foods by nearly 70 percent. FeedKind protein can help achieve a sustainable food future by meeting the growing demands for food while avoiding deforestation and allowing the restoration of abandoned and unproductive land.”

Through extensive customer trials around the world, FeedKind protein has been demonstrated to be an effective, safe and nutritious feed ingredient, according to Calysta. FeedKind is already being produced from the company’s Market Introduction Facility (MIF) in Teesside, England to support market development activities with leading animal nutrition companies around the world.

You can check out their video about FeedKind here.

Calysta’s Thoughts

Calysta gave a pretty good overview of why food production supply chains are being challenged and why BP’s investment in Calysta’s FeedKind is a game changer.

“Welcoming BP as a partner is a tremendous step forward for FeedKind protein and the best indicator yet that Calysta’s solution to food insecurity in a resource-constrained world can and will achieve global scale,” said Alan Shaw, Ph.D., Calysta President and CEO.

The problems facing our food production supply chains have never been more clear, with increasing evidence that land and water scarcity are key challenges to meeting future demand for protein. FeedKind makes more from less, producing feed for livestock, fish and pets while making smarter use of our resources.”

“We look forward to working closely with BP as we prepare to deliver this product to the world. Calysta will benefit from BP’s operational excellence and focus on safety when deploying multiple production plants.”

BP’s interest in expanding natural gas

Interestingly, BP Ventures had more to say about the gas and power supply part of the investment, rather than the food security and protein side of things but that makes sense since that is where their investment is paying off. The investment agreement will see BP and Calysta establish a strategic partnership around gas and power supply. In fact, this could be a decent part of BP’s gas supply business, especially considering the expected increase in animal feed in coming years.

Meghan Sharp, Managing Director, BP Ventures said, “We are really excited to be working with the team at Calysta, bringing them into the BP Ventures family as we seek new commercial opportunities for our gas business. Their technology complements our core business while providing opportunities for sustainable products for tomorrow.”

“The investment supports BP’s strategy of creating new markets in which gas can play a material role in delivering a more sustainable future and establishing a strategic relationship between BP and California-based start-up Calysta around gas and power supply,” according to BP’s press release.

Dominic Emery, BP’s group head of strategy, said, “By pairing Calysta’s exciting technology and entrepreneurial drive with BP’s global scale and gas market expertise, this partnership offers the opportunity to improve food security and sustainability for the world’s growing population.”

David Hayes, Senior Principal, BP Ventures will be taking up a director seat on the board of Calysta.

Bottom Line

Why we like this is for many reasons, like making protein in a more sustainable way to help meet growing global demand, but natural gas is still a fossil fuel. But this news has true potential. It’s got potential to become food to food. A full circle of life. An end to a beginning and a beginning to an end.

Think about it – instead of using natural gas from BP, could this be made from renewable methane? Could the technology take methane produced from anerobic digestion of food waste and convert it to the FeedKind end product? Could this become food to food? Fish feed from food waste?

In fact, whatever happened to the “fartpacks” that cows were wearing to collect their methane gas in Argentina? Could methane be collected from cows and used to make Calysta’s protein?

According to Calysta, the FeedKind protein can help improve global food security, which is a huge issue that will be getting worse over time with climate change, more people on the planet, less resources like water, more challenges like fires and floods, and what sounds like a Biblical foretelling.

But the signs are already here, and have been for a while, so the fact that here is something that can help food security is a game changer. What could make it even better is if Calysta’s technology could someday convert renewable methane like from food waste to fish food. So someday the fish or beef or chicken you are eating could have been raised without agricultural resources but with renewable methane gas produced protein. Munch on that thought for an even more hopeful future.

 

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