Developer of a seed breeding technology designed to develop future foods and bring sustainable advancement to the food industry
Everyone knows that the biggest winners of the California Gold Rush were the companies providing the picks and the shovels (just look at Levi Strauss). In a similar vein, Equinom is facilitating the rush to develop plant-based meat alternatives, creating the high-quality ingredients food companies rely on. Additionally, Equinom has created a pretty kick-ass tech platform to design new ingredients, all without the need for genetic modification. Here's what they're doing:
Equinom has developed a proprietary research platform called Manna™, which leverages AI to develop premium-quality, high-yield, non-GMO ingredients naturally – in half the time of traditional crop development cycles
Manna™ analyzes 50M+ seed breeding combinations and selects for specific characteristics. The Company is effectively employing traditional crop propagation techniques at a massive scale.
Informed by Manna™, Equinom breeds, plants, tests, and optimizes the seed stock. The end result is a high-quality strain ready for planting.
Leveraging the optimized seeds, customers grow the ingredients (Yellow peas, soybeans, and sesame) and harvest the high-value proteins, which are essential for plant-based meat alternatives.
There's a lot to like here. A revolutionary research platform enabling rapid seed propagation to support a fast-growing industry. The barriers to entry are immense and the seed stock is not labeled as a GMO (IMO the concern is overblown, but the public resistance to GMOs should not be ignored). The Company has partnered with several industry giants and recently raised a $35M round from a mix of strategic and financial investors.
Headquarters: Stratham, NH
Year founded: 2012
Business model: B2B
Capital raised: $73.25M
Current Valuation: N/A
The environmental cost of meat production is massive.
30% of the planet's surface is devoted to animal production. 33% of all arable land is used to grow feed crops - crops that could alternatively be used to feed at least 4 billion people.
Livestock takes a heavy toll on existing ecosystems, with grazing contributing to desertification and deforestation. Heavy use also reduces available arable land and creates further supply constraints.
Livestock is responsible for 18% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, both from methane production by the animals themselves, C02 from land use, and N20 from manure and slurry management
The rationale for plant-based foods is clear. Reduce the harmful effects of livestock by replacing meat consumption with more sustainable alternatives. Yet plant-based foods come with a lot of baggage.
Extracting protein from feed-quality inputs is expensive and requires heavy processing. Case and point, Roquette recently opened a $600M plant to process pea proteins. This has resulted in a supply shortage as processors work to build capacity.
With the energy-intensive processing process, the carbon footprint of most plant proteins is equivalent to that of a chicken.
Additionally, the heavy processing has caused many consumers to question whether plant-based meat is really a healthier alternative.
This is where Equinom comes in. By breeding seeds specifically for use in plant-based foods, Equinom's ingredients need far less processing than traditional protein sources, resulting in lower energy usage and most importantly - costs.
What I Like
The market need - Clear environmental drivers and economic incentives. Enough said.
The technology platform - Equinom's Manna™ platform looks to be transformative, providing an entirely new way to develop high-quality crops. The non-GMO angle is great marketing too.
Funding - The Company's recent $35M fundraise is particularly interesting because of its eclectic composition, which includes both financial and strategic investors in both the US and Europe, and emphasizes the Company's multi-national identity.
What I'm Concerned About
Market approval - Gaining market approval for their new seed strains shouldn't be a problem, but does present a gauntlet that must be navigated when bringing a new product to market.
Crop concentration - Equinom currently has 3 products approved for sale. Significant changes in market demand for any one of them could negatively impact the company's growth trajectory
What Do you Think?
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