Climax Foods, a startup that’s using data science to replace animal proteins with plant-based substitutes, just raised $7.5M. Climax Foods is using machine learning to process and cross-reference molecular structures to find the best fit. Funding will fuel research in taste, flavor, texture, and nutrition of the most desired animal-based food categories, beginning with cheese.
Why does this matter?
- “Today, more than 90% of all mammalian animals and more than 70% of all birds on the planet exist for the sole purpose of metabolizing plants and being turned into food,” says Oliver Zahn, CEO of Climax Foods.
- More than a third of the earth’s water and usable land is used today for animal products. These traditional methods are both harmful and wasteful. Climax Foods aims to convert plants into foods without the environmental impact.
- Sales of plant-based foods that replace animal products have grown 29% in the past two years to $5 billion. Plant-based cheese is only $189 million of those sales and has experienced a 51% growth in sales over the last two years. As alternative dairy products have already grown in popularity and market share, the cheese market will follow.
- Climax Foods is using data science to produce a new category of foods that will out-compete animal products in terms of taste, nutritional density, and price.
- The technology and techniques Climax Foods is developing will lead the way for plant-based food innovation.
Climax Foods technology and mission will accelerate the growth of plant-based alternatives. However, I don’t believe cheese the best product to begin with. Innovations and investment in this sector should focus on where you can have greatest impact. Cheese is also a luxury good, so the demand for this product may not match the R&D and production costs. Rather than using this $7.5M investment to focus on cheese, I would explore as many different products as possible.
About The Author
Daniel currently works at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. His original assignment was to maintain and update facility safety documentation for all facilities on-site, and perform risk analysis. Over time, his role has expanded to leading continuous improvement efforts through product management.
Concurrently, Daniel volunteers with Techstars, helping organize startup weekends, and with the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, organizing events on the local and national levels of the organization. He also volunteers with One World, and previously with Powerhouse Ventures, to source and screen startups for potential investment.
Daniel holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from UC Davis, and recently completed coursework in energy innovation from Stanford. His passion is at the intersection of sustainability, innovation, and business.