Source: Laurie Lapworth / University of Bath

Biotech business Clean Food Group has partnered with Roberts Bakery to transform the bakery brand’s surplus bread products into lab-grown, sustainable oils and fats.

Clean Food Group’s proprietary technology platform uses “proven, scalable” yeast strains and fermentation tech to “deliver sustainable alternatives to traditional oil and fat ingredients”. It is currently developing a yeast-made alternative to palm oil.

Its use of Roberts Bakery surplus stock, which would otherwise be discarded, marked a “significant step forward” the company said, on the pressing issue of food waste.

The initial focus of the partnership will involve utilising surplus bread as feedstock for yeast fermentation, but the ambition is to create a “circular ecosystem” in which Roberts – makers of artisan and specialised breads and the Little Treats biscuits range – will be able to use the glucose syrup and oils created in its own products.

“We’re seeing some great results from our early trials, irrespective of what the bread is, our yeast can use not just the whole carbohydrate fraction but the protein and microelements present as well,” said Professor Chris Chuck, co-founder of Clean Food Group.

“This all-in-one feed gives us a real advantage over using more complex media, in both performance and sustainability,” he added.

Earlier this year, Clean Food Group secured investment from global lipid, nutrition and frozen bakery company Alianza Team. It has previously received more than £900,000 of funding from cellular agriculture venture capital firm Agrinomics, and is planning to launch a commercial scale manufacturing facility.

Clean Food Group expects to bring its oils and fats on to the market at commercial scale within the next three years. It is currently working with THG to develop sustainable cosmetic ingredients.

“This partnership is a wonderful opportunity to investigate new ways to reduce the impact of our food waste in the production of new oils and fats that have a positive impact on the environment,” said Will Harrop, head of sustainability and the environment at Roberts.

Clean Food Group co-founder and CEO Alex Neves said the sector was “entering a new era for oils and fats, one where we can address the biggest concerns in modern food production, from limiting wasted food sources and creating more nutritionally advanced food while reducing the environmental impact of traditional ingredients”.