Fermentation

Bleeding Burgers for Vegan Dogs? Paleo Files World’s First Patent for Animal-Free Heme for Pet Food

Paleo, a precision fermentation startup from Belgium that produces alternative proteins for plant-based foods, is venturing into the plant-based pet food market with an animal-free heme ingredient.

Today, the company announces that it has filed and published what it claims is the “world-first” patent application for using its animal-free heme in pet food formulations. 

Paleo’s portfolio of heme includes the animal myoglobins found in beef, chicken, pork, lamb, tuna, and mammoth. However, Paleo tells vegconomist, that it is considering developing common preys for cats and dogs, including rat, mouse, and rabbit proteins.

The biotech’s proteins are said to be highly pure, 100% GMO-free, and bioidentical to animal myoglobin. Initially, the product could be presented as a protein powder, but the company says it is considering the advantages and disadvantages of other formats.

“We are now reaching out to pet food manufacturers who are interested in possible inclusion of our myoglobins and in working together to develop pet food applications,” commented Hermes Sanctorum, CEO of Paleo.

Pet treats
© rodimovpavel- stock.adobe.com

Delicious plant-based meat

Myoglobin is a heme protein found in animal muscles. When added to plant-based food, it is said to deliver the color, smell, and taste of meat. It also enables meat’s cooking experience: it crusts and in some applications, it bleeds. Heme enhances the nutritional profile of vegan foods, providing proteins and bioavailable iron.

After observing positive results in food applications and while the company awaits novel food regulations, the startup decided to explore the potential of its ingredients to enhance the palatability of plant-based pet food.

The startup saw the opportunity to cater to the growing demand of sustainable alternative protein sources for the pet food industry while facilitating dogs and cat’s transition from animal to plant-based diets with its versatile heme.

‘’The vegan market projected growth is significant, but still faces challenges that are similar to the ones we have seen in human food: taste and olfactory experience is critical to increase acceptance of plant-based options. We believe that Paleo’s ingredients have the potential to address this taste gap and exponentially help drive palatability,’’ shares Sanctorum.

Paleo's team
Image courtesy of Paleo

Paleo on the market in 2024?

Founded in 2020, Paleo has developed a proprietary precision fermentation to create sustainable animal-free proteins using yeasts. The technology is extremely versatile and can unlock GMO-free, highly tailored heme, explains Paleo.

In 2021, the firm raised €2 million to fund an R&D center, pilot plant, and experience center. This year, it secured €12 million to scale the production of animal-free heme protein and hit strategic milestones and commercial objectives.

Paleo has expanded its reach by recently establishing an office in Singapore and is currently getting ready to supply its innovative products for plant-based food and pet foods. 

The company has announced before that it is developing a commercial production strategy and seeking regulatory approvals in markets such as the US, Canada, Europe, Latin America, and Asia. 

Paleo tells vegconomist that to commercialize its animal-free heme for pet foods in Europe, it needs to obtain EU regulatory approval since it falls under the definition of feed additive instead of raw material (like Bene Meat Technologies’ cultivated meat for pets) under Regulation 1830.

Regarding a possible launch of the animal-free heme in a dog or cat food product during 2024, Goele Janssen, Head of Communications at Paleo, said: “Our company does not want to pinpoint itself to any deadlines. We aspire to progress as swiftly as possible.”




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