Bjoern Witte, Managing Partner and CEO of Blue Horizon, provides insight into the world of alternative protein investments, the company’s plans for 2023, and his thoughts on the future of the field.
What is your current portfolio like? Which new companies have you invested in in 2022? We’ve seen a number of very innovative companies raised through our seed portfolio. Seed portfolios act as an indicator of the pulse of the industry. One example of a new company we invested in this year is Arkeon, an Austrian company that produces protein from carbon dioxide. Arkeon’s technology makes it possible to convert CO2 directly into all 20 of his amino acids that are essential for human nutrition. At the same time, it opens up a whole new world of food.
“Blue Horizon is currently investing in over 70 alternative protein and food technology companies.”
Another exciting company is California Cultured, which is reinventing the future of chocolate. As you know, the global chocolate industry depends on a fragile cocoa supply he chain. The cocoa supply chain causes deforestation in biodiverse tropical regions and is often linked to human rights issues.
California Cultured uses plant cell cultures to grow whole cells in bioreactors instead of fields, similar to cultivated meat. This allows cellular agriculture to produce delicious chocolate that is completely GMO-free while avoiding all negative effects. Blue Horizon currently invests in over 70 alternative protein and food technology companies.
The growth strategy helped build a new global leader in sustainable food systems. Tropic uses cutting-edge gene-editing technology to develop high-performance commercial varieties of tropical crops that promote cultivation efficiency, enhance consumer health and improve sustainable environmental practices.
AgBiome improves the world through microbial solutions. Isolate microbes from environmental samples around the world and fully sequence the genome of each microbe. Motif FoodWorks analyzes, discovers, and designs plant-based foods to create better-tasting, more nutritious, more sustainable, and credible foods.
What has been your biggest challenge? The recent setback in technology investment is affecting companies of all kinds, from software to synthetic biology. Alternative protein companies are not immune to this broader trend, but the transformation to a sustainable food system has powerful implications, including increasing sustainability and promoting shorter, more resilient supply chains. Backed by a long-term driving force. Compared to animal protein, the more localized supply chains associated with plant protein have a lower carbon footprint and are more resilient to disruptions from global shocks.
The war in Ukraine has highlighted the fragility of global supply chains, and many policymakers are keenly focused on the need to secure their own food supply chains and become more independent. In doing so, we need to recognize the contribution that alternative proteins can make.
Alternative protein supply chains are often shorter and more resilient than conventional animal protein production. Some governments have already taken steps to invite infrastructure and technology players (such as companies building bioreactors for cell-based proteins) into their jurisdictions, focusing on alternative protein functions. It promotes the development of regional economic clusters.
Ultimately, the current global economic climate will only support the transition to more sustainable food systems as many countries around the world highlight the need for change.
The alternative protein space has benefited from the latest geopolitical developments. In the wake of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, the importance of making a sustainable food system work has become clear. Issues such as global food security and the sustainability of his entire chain of values are finally making the front pages of the newspapers.
It’s tragic that people often have to be in extreme crisis situations to really wake up, but this is happening now and provides an opportunity for all of us to really make a difference. is the largest industry on the planet, and if we can harness this to accelerate the transition to more sustainable systems, there is a real chance to put our future back on the right track.
What were the highlights? One of the highlights of this year was the continued increase in consumer interest in alternative proteins worldwide. The timing couldn’t be better. Reducing livestock production in the food value chain is his one of the most impactful solutions to the global climate crisis.
The positive impact on GHG emissions ranges from substantial (equivalent to decarbonizing 95% of aviation industry emissions in 2019) to 6.1 gigatonnes by 2030, i.e. 2030 emissions That amounts to a staggering 11% reduction of the projected 55 gigatonnes of emissions. The UN’s current policy scenario.
andrew_shots – stock.adobe.com
It also requires relatively small economic and consumer trade-offs compared to other solutions such as reducing the number of flights or retrofitting existing housing stock. Consumers are starting to understand this. More than 30% of his consumers believe that having a significant positive impact on the climate is the main reason for switching to alternative proteins.
What are your plans for 2023? We have a variety of interesting projects in our 2023 pipeline. We will continue to focus on building a growth strategy with a greater focus on institutional investors. We are also continuously expanding our Blue Horizon Seed portfolio. This allows us to stay on top of market trends and stay at the forefront of innovative products and technologies. The wave of innovation that will sweep us over the next few years is huge.
For example, what is happening now in the field of precision fermentation is particularly exciting. Fermentation is an incredibly efficient process, allowing protein to be produced in hours or days rather than months or years, as is the case with animal-derived proteins. , which means that many negative environmental impacts can be completely neutralized, or at least largely avoided, through fermentation technology. It can reduce greenhouse gases and deforestation, halt biodiversity loss, reduce water consumption and improve many aspects of human health.
Richard Carey – stock.adobe.com
What is Blue Horizon’s view on further development of the plant-based sector? We believe that consumers around the world want healthier food, both for themselves and the planet. I believe there is. In a recent survey conducted in partnership with BCG, more than 30% said they would switch their diets entirely to alternative proteins if the climate had a significant impact.
Consumers know and love alternative proteins, but they also want continual improvements in health, taste and price. The percentage of consumers who eat doubles. The most frequently mentioned inhibitors include health and nutrition, taste and safety.
President Biden’s recent Executive Order, which has some support for food tech, is big news for the sector. do you think that’s enough? What more do you think the government should do? Sustainable food systems are the main beneficiaries of this executive order, with around 80% of total funding likely to go to the food sector. is spent on The commitment covers the entire food value chain. Alternatives from input production (e.g., new crop seed development, fertilizer biomanufacturing) to food ingredient production (e.g., those enabled by fermentation, such as heme, which provide color, taste, and nutritional benefits) meat), packaging (e.g. bioplastics) and distribution (e.g. biofuels), recycling and waste management.
The Executive Order also supports research initiatives to train future researchers, thereby indirectly contributing to the bioeconomy and biomanufacturing of advanced medicines. Although not explicitly mentioned in the executive order, another emerging technology, cell-based production of cultivated meat, could benefit from the initiative. A senior government official said at a press conference:[The government is] It also aims to improve food security and drive innovation in agriculture, including through new technologies. [produce] Food made from cultured animal cells. ”
How can alternative proteins contribute to food security? We believe that animal protein prices will rise in the long term and alternative protein prices will fall. Today, in many countries, traditional meat production is heavily subsidized, and sometimes even advertising and marketing is tax-funded. The traditional meat industry has reached its natural limits in terms of the efficiency of its processes.
“We are confident that animal protein prices will rise in the long term.”
Everything is very efficient and there is not much room to squeeze out additional margin. Alternative proteins, on the other hand, are still in the early stages of development. This, coupled with increased efficiency, will lead to an explosive increase in supply.
Together with BCG, we calculate that alternative proteins will represent at least 11%, if not double, of the global protein market over the next decade. Achieving price parity is important for widespread adoption, as consumers will be more willing to try new plant- or cell-based alternatives if they are cheaper than the animal-based original. is.
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