Chinova Bioworks secures $6m to expand production, application of clean-label, mushroom-based preservative

By Elizabeth Crawford contact

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Getty/	-bilge
Source: Getty/ -bilge

Related tags: mushrooms, Clean label, plant-based, vegan, Sustainability

Canadian food-tech startup Chinova Bioworks is ramping up production of its natural mushroom-based preservative Chiber with the opening of a new production facility this fall and expanding its applications with help from a $6m series A fundraise announced yesterday.

Co-led by DSM Venturing and Rhapsody Venture Partners with additional financing from Rich Products Ventures, the investment will help Chinova Bioworks meet rising demand for clean label and vegan ingredients to replace artificial preservatives and animal-based ingredients while simultaneously reducing food waste by upcycling would-be byproducts and preventing spoilage.

“The pandemic has really accelerated the trend for food safety and cleaner products. Consumers have had more time on their hands through the pandemic and have voiced their concerns over ingredient labels,”​ Chinova Bioworks CEO Natasha Dhayagude told FoodNavigator-USA.

She explained this is particularly true in the fast-growing plant-based alternatives market, which consumers often hold to higher standards – expecting products to be healthy, natural and clean-label but also delivering similar or better shelf-life, taste and safety than conventional products.

“These conflicting standards present a significant challenge for plant-based alternative producers,”​ Dhayagude said.

But, she added, with Chinova Bioworks’ trademarked Chiber – a natural preservative made from upcycled white button mushroom stems that otherwise would be discarded -- “there is significant opportunity for brands to gain both a clean-label and improved product quality.”

Over the past three years, the company has launched six different product lines in the food and beverage market under the Chiber trade name, including Chiber for Beverage, Dairy, Plant-based Dairy, Plant-based Meat, Sauces/Spreads/Dips and Baked Goods.

“Each product formulation provides the optimal level of protection against the major spoilage microorganisms in each category helping to prevent spoilage and food waste,”​ Dhayagude said.

To meet rising demand for Chiber and clean-label solutions, Chinova Bioworks will use part of its series A fundraise to scale its manufacturing operations by opening this fall a new 20,000 square foot facility on Prince Edward Island.

“The Bioscience Manufacturing Incubator (BMI) is built by the PEI BioAlliance and is specifically designed to meet the strict regulatory standards required for the production of natural products,”​ Dhayagude said.

Funds will also support additional in-house complementary testing services offered to clients, she added.

New verticals, additional industries offer potential

The fundraise also will help Chinova Bioworks launch additional products across new verticals both within and beyond the food and beverage industry.

For example, Dhayagude said she sees significant potential to replace animal-based ingredients and compounds used to produce beer and other alcoholic beverages.

“These include, for example, pepsin, a foaming agent extracted from the stomach enzymes of pigs; carmine, found in the ground-up scales of cochineal insects or isinglass, a type of gelatine extracted from fish swim bladders. All of these substances are commonly used in the production and filtration of alcohol to make drinks appear clearer and brighter. We plan to launch a new product that offers brewers a vegan alternative to these products,”​ she explained.

“Initial results show that Chiber can settle yeast eight times faster after fermentation and, as an added bonus, antimicrobial properties remain in the beer, keeping it fresher for longer,”​ Dhayagude added, noting a target launch for this product in the fall.

Beyond food and beverage, Dhayagude says she sees future growth for natural preservatives in cosmetics and animal health, which the company will explore while continuing to service its core food and beverage markets.

“We currently have a growing R&D team, are expanding our manufacturing capabilities and work with partnering organizations and investment groups to continue forward momentum,”​ she added.

Companies interested in learning more and attending IFT next month at Chicago’s McCormick Place can visit Chinova at booth S2667.

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