Israel-based Roots Sustainable Agricultural Technologies Ltd. (Roots) said it is entering the plant-based meat business, and has established a new department specifically for the emerging sector.
“Now that we’ve received excellent proof of concept (POC) results using the key ingredients for meat alternative products, we’ll start to aggressively pursue collaboration agreements and partnerships with manufacturers and others in the sector,” said Roots Executive Chairman and CEO Boaz Wachtel.
Letter signed in Europe
Roots, which is traded on the Australian Stock Exchange, has already signed signed a letter of intent to enter a joint venture with legacy European hemp company Hempoint of the Czech Republic through the CzecHemp cluster.
Hempoint and CzecHemp cluster are working with university researchers who are developing proprietary methods for increasing hemp protein from seeds to levels exceeding 75%. The research is also looking into isolating pure hemp edestin, a highly-digestible seed protein.
The new department at Roots will collaborate with industry partners to develop strategies that will let growers and product developers use the company’s Root Zone Temperature Optimisation (RZTO) technology to grow protein-based crops for plant-based meats. The department will capitalize on a recent proof of concept (POC) study that showed the RZTO boosted yield in protein-based plants, the company said.
Plant based meats provide a significant opportunity, with the total 2019 market estimated at $12.1 billion, and expectations that could rise to $27.9 billion by 2025.
Demand for plant-based meat alternatives is being driven by consumers seeking healthier dietary options, and R&D efforts from health experts and food manufacturers. Popularity of the products increased following the establishment of NASDAQ-listed Beyond Meat Inc. and America’s largest private company Cargill having started to invest in alternative meat manufacturers.
Roots said its recent placement to raise $2.5 million leaves it well funded to capitalize on a number of opportunities that it is aggressively pursuing through its plant-based meats department.
Kerem to advise initiative
Hemp seed is a lean source of plant-based protein, with about 25% low-fat protein content. Hemp seed protein contains no cholesterol or saturated fats, and carries all of the amino acids needed to help repair muscle cells, and regulate the nervous system and brain function.
World-leading researcher Zohar Kerem, a developer of novel high protein food products, will lead Roots’ plant-based meat department on an advisory basis. He has been involved in a number of international projects in natural compounds, edible plants, novel food and antimicrobials for food, agriculture and cosmetics.
Addressing food security
Roots is developing and commercializing advanced technologies to address critical problems faced by agriculture, including climate management and the shortage of water for irrigation. The company established the plant-based meat market unit after encouraging results from a POC study at its R&D facility in Bet Halevi, Israel which showed RZTO increased yield by 57% – 67% for peas and beans. The Company said the results could lead to significant benefits for commercial growers.
But Roots’ solutions are also addressing broader problems in food security, an increasing concern for developing and established nations, Wachtel noted.