Livestock was a convenient way to make cheap protein for thousands of years.
Unfortunately, what worked generations ago no longer scales: animal agriculture now occupies more than 45% of the land surface of Earth. That’s land that can’t be used for native flora and fauna, causing a catastrophic meltdown in wildlife.
Shiru scientists asked how we could make more of people’s favorite foods — without the dangerously high environmental footprint.
Then we asked how we could make it as easy as possible for foodmakers — from buzzy new brands to established multinational food conglomerates — to adopt Shiru’s novel ingredients.
We are partnering directly with food companies to get wholesome, nutritious foods onto store shelves and into consumers’ lives as quickly as possible.
Here’s how we do it:
Shiru leverages state-of-the-art bioinformatics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to investigate and identify the sequences, structures, and functional relationships that determine whether a protein is also a great food ingredient. These same principles are used to create self-driving cars and allow computers to understand speech. These methods have also been used extensively in health and medical fields to improve lives and patient outcomes. By applying them to proteins in the context of food, we will be able to revolutionize how we think of proteins as the building blocks of our favorite foods.
We computationally identify which proteins drive texture, complexity, or nutrition. Which proteins are responsible for catalyzing flavors and aromas? Which create umami? Which provide the highest-quality nutritional content? We have a profound understanding at the molecular level of how and why our food tastes great.
We search our proprietary database of millions of proteins to find sustainable, animal-free proteins that mimic those properties we want to replicate. Our algorithms predict thousands of candidates that can functionally stand in for ingredients the food industry wants to replace, including eggs, dairy, gelatin, and dozens of other ingredients. Then we find similar components in the plant kingdom to make all-new, plant-based, and sustainable versions of our favorite foods.
Once we find the best ingredients from the plant world, we isolate the plants’ DNA and put it into yeast to produce those same natural ingredients in the most efficient way. The same type of yeast cultures have been used for generations to make foods and medicines through fermentation. Since early human history we’ve been using fermentation to preserve and optimize the nutritional value of foods ranging from cheese to yogurt and to make some of the world’s most beloved beverages, such as beer.
In the last half-decade, scientists have refined a technique called “precision fermentation,” which uses cultures as “cell factories” to make specific functional ingredients – without relying on nature for sourcing the raw materials. These cultures make proteins identical to those found in traditional, animal-based foods such as milk, eggs, and meat.
Thanks to precision fermentation, Shiru scientists make proteins that are exact molecular replicas of plant proteins that meet or exceed the functional and nutritional attributes of those found in animals. That’s how we reverse-engineer the sensory, nutritional, and functional attributes of animal-based foods – using only a small fraction of the land, water, and energy needed for livestock.
Our ingredients deliver the same taste and texture of animal-derived proteins, can provide all nine essential amino acids as complete protein sources, and are free of cholesterol, trans fat, lactose, growth hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides. Depending on how our corporate customers incorporate our ingredients, they may also be part of foods certified as vegan, gluten-free, GMO-free, kosher, or halal.
We are taking a fresh and long overdue approach to business innovation in the food sector. Simply put, our business enables other businesses to build a sustainable food system for the 21st century and beyond.
We aren’t trying to compete with the latest generation of consumer food brands. In fact, many of us have come from the hottest food tech startups, and we are huge fans of what they’re trying to accomplish. At the same time, we aren’t trying to beat the incumbent food multinationals that have sustained humanity for decades. We owe these big corporations a debt of gratitude for feeding generations of people — and we want to help them scale and thrive for decades to come.
We are already working with well-known companies on beta versions to replace some of the world’s most abundant proteins, including those from eggs and milk. We work closely with our corporate customers on innovation so that they can focus on their core competence — getting top-quality, high-value foods to consumers.
At Shiru, we sweat the science and sustainability so that our customers, consumers, and the entire planet can reap the benefits. We aim to help everyone in the global food industry deliver the delicious, nutritious, sustainable products that consumers want. We’re doing this for the sake of people and the planet.
Are you a food or ingredient manufacturer and interested in learning more? Please let us know!Contact