Clean Food Group Secures £2.5M to Launch Non-GMO Alternative to Palm Oil by 2025

UK-based biotech firm Clean Food Group (CFG) has raised £2.5 million to accelerate the commercial launch of its yeast-derived, non-GMO alternative to palm oil by 2025.

Said to be equivalent to high-oleic palm oil, CFG’s go-to-market product is designed as a drop-in ingredient suitable for baked goods, confectionery, and cosmetics applications. CFG believes it can introduce its novel food product to the UK and EU markets, as the regulatory process for non-GMOs is less strict than that for genetically modified foods.

“The capital raised with Clean Growth Fund will allow us to accelerate the scale-up of our technology platform”

The UK VC Clean Growth Fund, which supports climate tech businesses that reduce carbon emissions and tackle the climate crisis, made this significant investment in CFG — bringing the company’s total raised funds to £13 million. 

So far, CFG has received funding from the cell ag-focused VC Agronomics, the international food experts Alianza Team and Doehler Group, and SEED Innovations Ltd., a fund quoted on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM). 

Alex Neves, CEO and co-founder of CFG, shared: “The capital raised with Clean Growth Fund will allow us to accelerate the scale-up of our technology platform while advancing critical regulatory and commercial pathways, with a fully funded commercialization plan in place well into 2025.” 

Alex Neves, CEO and co-founder of Clean Food Group
Alex Neves – Image courtesy of Clean Food Group

The eco-friendly process

Clean Food Group’s proprietary technology platform has been developed after eight years of pioneering research on a yeast-based alternative to palm oil by Professor Chris Chuck, technical lead at Clean Food Group and the University of Bath.

Leveraging precision fermentation technology and proprietary non-GMO yeast, Clean Food Group’s production process claims to be eco-friendly, fuelled by renewable energy and food-safe waste to feed the yeast.

According to an externally validated life-cycle assessment (LCA), it delivers a 90% reduction in greenhouse gases compared with traditional palm oil. However, more importantly, this production method addresses the deforestation caused by the palm oil industry.

The UK biotech has already entered into strategic partnerships with Alianza Team and Doehler Group to expand its fermentation process to a commercial scale larger than 1,000 L. 

Clean Food Group raises funds
Image credit: Clean Food Group

A sustainable alternative

Other companies producing sustainable alternatives to oils made from crops include the Californian companies Zero Acre Farms and Checkerspot, along with Dutch company NoPalm Ingredients, which “brews” tailor-made fermented oils and fats. Unilever has partnered with San Diego-based company Geno to commercialise a palm oil alternative.

Beverley Gower-Jones OBE, founder and managing partner of Clean Growth Fund, expressed her support for CFG and excitement for a palm oil alternative: “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.”

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