Dairy and fish vs. cultured meat: the difference in perception, production and promotion with Formo and BlueNalu

We are excited to renew our media partnership with Red to Green for Season 3! 

Red to Green is a Podcast dedicated to providing content on sustainable food innovations, founded and hosted by Marina Schmidt. What sets Red to Green apart from other food tech podcasts is that instead of adopting the more common approach of each episode discussing different topics, they chose a storytelling approach. Indeed, Red to Green grouped their conversations by seasons of about 12 to 14 episodes, each season covering one theme at a time. Organizing the podcast this way allows for a deeper and better understanding of the designated topic and to build up the audience’s knowledge towards the following subjects.

Season 1 encompasses different aspects about cultured meat and cellular agriculture, from introducing it to what it is and why it is revolutionary to hearing the perspectives of investors and consumer adoption.

Season 2 moves towards a conversation surrounding plastic alternatives and sustainable food packaging. We hear from experts and innovators in the field differentiating between different types of sustainable packaging, greenwashing, recycling and much more.

Season 3 is all about understanding how to promote alternative proteins and consumer acceptance.

Episode 7 of Season 3 is about dairy and fish vs. cultured meat and the differences in perception, production, promotion and consumer acceptance. In this session, Marina interviews two people (separately) in the cell-based sector. The first is Raffael Wohlgensinger, founder and CEO of Formo, a food biotech company on a mission to bring the next generation of sustainable, healthy, and equitable dairy products to consumers. Next, is Lou Cooperhouse, President and CEO of BlueNalu, a cell-cultured seafood company, satisfying the global appetite for seafood in a fresh, sustainable and humane way.

In the first interview with Raffael, he explains that at Formo they are using precision fermentation to produce real milk proteins, casein proteins and whey proteins, the fundamental building blocks of dairy products. They are focusing on the great heritage that exists in Europe, cheese manufacturing and artisanal cheese-making, and use these novel ingredients to basically do the same thing but without the animals

One of the questions is whether their products would be considered vegan. Raffael argues that it really depends on the definition of vegan. If, for example, you are vegan because of environmental, ethical or animal cruelty issues, then yes it can be considered vegan since the product doesn’t come from an animal. However, if someone follows a vegan diet because they don’t want to eat any kind of animal meat or have an allergy, then it would most likely not be considered vegan.

Another topic they touch on is about the differences between cellular agriculture and precision fermentation. Formo’s founder defines that when we talk about cultured meat and cultured seafood it’s the cells that you’re eating, whereas the products from precision fermentation are acellular products meaning that it’s not cells but it’s actually organic compounds such as proteins and fatty acids.

Marina and Raffael also talk about their recent rebranding, including changing the name to Formo, which is a translation of the Latin word I mold I form. The meaning brings in this idea of shaping the future of the industry and very actively in this first person singular which shows the brand’s aspiration to be the driver of that innovation.

Lou Cooperhouse takes on the second part of this episode, starting by giving some information about BlueNalu. He explains that their model is to make a demand driven supply chain where they could arguably sell what consumers want, not what comes out of the ocean or the seas and it can democratize something like bluefin or tuna.

The company has grown a lot and is now approaching, what they call phase two and phase three of their five phase strategy. Phase two is where they get the regulatory clearance that is required in the US, and phase three is where they make a small-scale volumes for sale in restaurants in the country.

Lou also mentions that BlueNalu has evolved from a biology centric company to one that’s really more engineering and operations centric and quality centric as well as continuing to build strategic partnerships.

When touching upon the subject of competitors, Lou affirms that they are working on species that are typically imported so they are not even competing with the seafood industry, but actually complementing it. Their goal is to work with local economies and local processors. Lou also mentions that he sees no benefit in bashing the competition.

 

This is definitely an interesting episode and we loved listening to 2 perspectives! Click here to listen to this podcast.

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