Clean Group Credit_ Laurie Lapworth _ University of Bath 5 (1)

Source: Laurie Lapworth — University of Bath

A UK biotech company that is developing a yeast-made alternative to palm oil has secured a £2.5m funding boost.

Clean Food Group will use the cash from climate-specific UK venture capital fund Clean Growth Fund to “accelerate the scale-up of our technology platform while advancing critical regulatory and commercial pathways” the company’s CEO and co-founder Alex Neves said.

Clean Food Group’s proprietary technology platform uses “proven, scalable yeast strains and fermentation technology and utilises food waste as its food source to deliver sustainable alternatives to traditional oil and fat ingredients”.

Its go-to-market product is an equivalent to high oleic palm oil, with an equivalent nutritional and fatty acid composition, which it says delivers a 90% reduction in greenhouse gases when compared with traditional palm oil.

The oil has been designed as a drop-in ingredient that can be readily substituted in baked goods, confectionery and cosmetics. The company is currently working with THG to develop sustainable cosmetic ingredients.

The company’s stated objective is to bring sustainable oils and fats to the market, at commercial scale, within the next three years.

The yeast strain used in the production of the palm oil alternative was developed using a non-genetically modified process similar to plant breeding. The company’s biotech was born out of eight years of research by Professor Chris Chuck, technical lead at Clean Food Group and the University of Bath.

The funding boost follows a Series A funding round last August which saw 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, as well as Doehler Group and SEED Innovations. It has raised a total of £13m in funding to date.

“Clean Food Group has an impressive team with a broad set of skills, and who established several significant industrial partnerships,” said Beverley Gower-Jones OBE, founder and managing partner of Clean Growth Fund. “Backed by a strong technical base, Alex Neves and his team are well placed to commercialise the manufacture of palm oil substitutes and therefore reduce the reliance the food industry has on the production of palm oil, an industry which is one of the main drivers of deforestation and a major contributor to global CO₂ emissions.”