Selling the iconic ice cream business Tip Top won’t end Fonterra’s financial woes, says broker Grant Williamson, of Hamilton Hindin Greene.
Motif Ingredients is a food ingredients company that develops and commercialises bio-engineered animal and food ingredients.
Fonterra has bought a stake for an undisclosed sum.
Judith Swales, head of Fonterra’s global consumer and foodservice business, says the move is part of the cooperative’s plan 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 futureproof their co-op for generations to come,” Swales says.
“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.
“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.”
Fonterra, like other dairy players, has been critical of plant-based proteins masquerading as milk products.
However, it now says plant-based protein may also have a place in future.
“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,” says Swales.
“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.”
Fonterra says its stake in Motif will help the co-op be part of this emerging next-generation fermentation-produced nutrition sector.
Motif has been set up by Ginkgo Bioworks, said to be a world leader in its field. Using a process similar to that used to make insulin, vitamins and beer, Motif seeks to use genetic science and fermentation technology to re-create and sell animal proteins and food ingredients, including those similar to dairy ingredients.
Media reports say Motif has raised US$90 million from investors, including Fonterra; others include Ginkgo Bioworks, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Louis Dreyfus Companies and Viking Global Investors.