New Zealand dairy heavyweight Fonterra has taken a stake in Motif Ingredients, a US-based company that develops and commercialises bio-engineered animal and food ingredients.

It joins Ginkgo BioWorks, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Louis Dreyfus Companies and Viking Global Investors in backing the Boston-based company.

The terms of the deal have not been disclosed but Fonterra said its investment represents a minority stake in the business.

Judith Swales, head of Fonterra’s global consumer and foodservice business, said the move is part of the cooperative’s commitment to its farmer-owners to stay at the forefront of innovation to understand and meet the changing preferences of consumers.

“Farmers expect their co-op to get the most value from every drop of their milk and also keep an eye on tomorrow to future-proof their co-op for generations to come,” she said.

“Dairy nutrition will always be at our core, but we also want to explore how we can capture more value from new types of nutrition.

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“The complementary nutrition category – where plant, insect, algae and fermentation-produced nutrition co-exist alongside animal proteins, including cows’ milk – is fast evolving. It’s not a case of either/or, but both.”

“If we fast forward 30 years, there’ll be two billion more mouths to feed and there simply won’t be enough food to go around just using today’s methods. A combination of traditional and complementary nutrition sources will be required to meet the world’s increasing need for food, especially protein.

“Consumers around the world will continue to want natural, grass-fed dairy as a premium source of nutrition. At the same time, we recognise that no two consumers are the same. As diets and preferences continue to evolve, we want to be there, providing people with choices.

“Our stake in Motif will help us be part of this emerging next-generation fermentation-produced nutrition sector.”

Motif was established by Ginkgo Bioworks. Using a process similar to how insulin, vitamins and beer are made, its team of biotech specialists harness genetic science and fermentation technology to re-create and sell animal proteins and food ingredients, including those similar to dairy ingredients.

Jonathan McIntyre, Motif Ingredients’ CEO, said: “Through biotechnology and fermentation, Motif will propel the next food revolution with affordable, sustainable and accessible ingredients that meet the standards of chefs, food developers, and visionary brands.”