Miruku replacing animals with plants to create dairy proteins

plants to create dairy proteins

plants to create dairy proteins


Miruku, a New Zealand-based foodtech company, is applying its molecular farming process to program plant cells to be mini-factories for producing proteins and other molecules, like fats and sugars, traditionally made by animals.

The company was founded in 2020 by Amos Palfreyman, Ira Bing, Harjinder Singh, and Oded Shoseyov, who all have experience in either dairy or plant science. Its alternative dairy proteins technology is currently being developed in Miruku’s labs and greenhouses with corporate and R&D partnerships to scale and be implemented across geographies.

Its approach involves breeding and engineering plant crops to turn their cells into dairy proteins, CEO Palfreyman explained. This is different from competitors in the space that are using techniques like precision fermentation, which brews dairy inside fermentation chambers and recruiting animal cells outside of the animal itself to produce dairy building blocks in cultivation chambers.


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How Miruku is differentiating itself is by breeding new plant crops that grow real dairy building blocks directly in the plants themselves using the energy of the sun. In that sense, the company is producing proteins more efficiently than cows, thus cutting out the role of the cow to reduce reliance on animal agriculture and the consequent damage to water, soil, and atmosphere.

One of the challenges in foodtech is to create enough proteins or feedstock or scaffolding to scale the company. Once you generate a plant that expresses the target proteins, you then plant the seeds to scale production, whether it’s a handful of them in a greenhouse or hundreds of thousands of them in a field.

Where it gets a bit complicated is the engineering and breeding for selected traits, which often requires a trade-off between energy use and expression levels. However, Palfreyman believes Miruku’s use of computational biology and techno-economic analyses to model optimum expression levels will address that side of the scalability equation.

The company is still in development, but Palfreyman is targeting two to three years before Miruku will see its proteins used in the commercial market. But it will have prototypes and proof of concept sooner than that. He expects the first product to likely be a partnership with an existing food company to provide a protein component that the food company will roll out.

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