Gaseous fermentation and ancient microbes: you want fries with that?

by | May 1, 2024 | News

New Zealand based alt protein start-up Jooules has powered up the next steps to commercialise its novel gaseous fermentation technology with a $1 million capital raise by Sprout Agritech LP.

Jooules’ Founder David McLellan, says the company is motivated by a vision to power the future of protein by converting CO2 emission streams into ingredients-based protein to feed a hungry world.

“In laboratory settings, we have proved the ability to harness the power of ancient microbes through gaseous fermentation to produce functional food-grade protein from carbon dioxide. Our ingredients-based protein will be nutritionally dense and resilient with major ethical benefits when you consider that we will be able to carbon capture emissions streams from other industries,” believes David.

Jooules’ resource-efficient production techniques are expected to consume around 600 times less water and 99% less land compared to traditional protein production, conserving valuable resources. The startup is also currently the only one in New Zealand harnessing microbes to produce high-quality protein ingredients from CO2 on a potentially huge scale.

Jooules will use the funding round to expand its technical team and is working with the Crown research entity SCION via specialist equipment to help fast-track product development.

Importantly, early testing has established that the proteins produced by gaseous fermentation meet Food Agriculture Organization of the United Nations standards for the nutritional density of complete proteins, including having all nine essential amino acids.

“Our protein is designed specifically for food manufacturers around the world seeking a more sustainable protein source and will be ideal for both human and high-value companion animal diets.”

With the world’s population projected to increase through to 2050, the pressure mounts on the current food production system to meet demand without increasing emissions.

“Through the recent advancements in fermentation technology, we are able to produce a new source of nutritionally complete foods. Change isn’t necessarily about disrupting what we currently have, but being able to produce significant new export revenues from brand new technology,” adds David.

Warren Bebb, Investment Manager for Sprout says Jooules is turning the food production challenge on its head.

“They’ve invented a way to address a global challenge that uses the problem – carbon dioxide – as a pathway to food. The team’s approach leapfrogs other solutions in both innovation and ambition and we’re hugely excited to see what the team is able to achieve as it accelerates its investment into product development and testing,” comments Warren.

This is the seventh investment of NZ$1 million Sprout has made having joined forces with partners US- based Finistere Ventures, Kiwi dairy giant Fonterra and venture builder OurCrowd, as well as the Callaghan Innovation’s Deep Tech Incubator programme designed to support the commercialisation of early-stage deep tech ventures in New Zealand.

Global ambition

While the APAC region is the initial target for launch following regulatory approval as a ‘novel food’ over the next financial year, Jooules plans to quickly expand to closely aligned markets in terms of accreditation.

“Producing a product we can sell – business to business – empowers the world’s food manufacturers to address the source of the problem – Scope 3 emissions associated with their supply chain – at scale. We’re excited to be powering the future of food from New Zealand to the world,” concludes David

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