NEW ZEALAND – New Zealand dairy giant, Fonterra has invested in Motif Ingredients, a US-based food ingredients company in a US$90 million Series A funding round.  

The funding round which was also backed by Ginkgo Bioworks, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Louis Dreyfus Companies and Viking Global Investors gives Fonterra a minority stake in the business, said the company.

According to Judith Swales, head of Fonterra’s Global Consumer and Foodservice business, the move is part of the company’s commitment to innovation and changing consumer tastes and preferences.

Apart from dairy nutrition, Fonterra is exploring the complementary nutrition segment which is fast growing.

The segment involves plant, insect, algae and fermentation-produced nutrition, and this grants the company to find opportunities in plant-based and diversified food offerings regarding consumer needs.

“Farmers expect their Co-op to get the most value from every drop of their milk and keep an eye on tomorrow to futureproof their Co-op for generations to come.

“Dairy nutrition will always be at our core, but we also want to explore how we can capture more value from new types of nutrition,” said Judith.

“Consumers around the world will continue to want natural, grass fed dairy as a premium source of nutrition.

At the same time, we recognise that no two consumers are the same. As diets and preferences continue to evolve, we want to be there, providing people with choices.

“Our stake in Motif will help us be part of this emerging next-generation fermentation-produced nutrition sector.”

Established by Ginkgo Bioworks, one of the world’s leading organism companies, Motif develops and commercialises bio-engineered animal and food ingredients.

Jonathan McIntyre, former SVP of R&D at PepsiCo, has been appointed as Motif’s CEO.

“Sustainability and accessible nutrition are among the biggest challenges facing the food industry today.

Consumers are demanding mindful food options, but there’s a reigning myth that healthy and plant-based foods must come at a higher price or cannot taste or function like the animal-based foods they aim to replicate,” said McIntyre.

Investments comes even as consumer eating habits shift towards plant-based alternatives with concerns around the environment and ethical standards.

Last month, Sustainable Bioproducts, US-based biotechnology firm also raised US$33 million in a Series A financing round led by 1955 Capital and backed by ADM and Danone.