Fermentation is a process that has been used in various forms by humans, who have been harnessing the power of microorganisms to transform carbohydrates into a variety of foods, drinks and energy sources for centuries. Microbial fermentation has particular promise for replacing animal protein on consumers’ plates. Fermentation-derived “mycelium” has a fibrous texture like chicken and has been used by the prominent meat alternative brand Quorn for decades. And multiple startups in the west have begun using fermentation to produce egg, dairy and meat proteins without the need for live animals.

This promising technology has now landed in China with a little help from Lever. Earlier this year, Lever helped a pair of entrepreneurs launch Blue Canopy, the first company in China (and Asia) that will produce real animal protein from fermentation for food. Blue Canopy aims to produce meat protein from fermentation and also to produce mycelium. Lever encouraged the founders to launch the company in China, assisted with incorporation, helped recruit key team members, and provided start-up funding through the Foundation’s program-related investment arm.

Meanwhile, New Singularity, a startup seed-funded by Lever Foundation last year, has launched its own mycelium production for use in its plant-based seafood products. The company also just landed a partnership with the China division of one of the world’s largest food companies to help accelerate its scale-up.

The rise of microbial fermentation startups in Asia is signaling a new era for the alternative protein industry. As more companies enter the sector and technological advancements continue, the industry is set to continue to expand, creating an exciting future for animal-free meat production in China and other Asian countries.


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