Don DiMasi joins Yali Bio, focuses on scaling up designer fat ingredients

By Deniz Ataman

- Last updated on GMT

Image source: Yali Bio
Image source: Yali Bio

Related tags Fats plant-based Dairy alternatives plant-based meat

As designer fat supplier Yali Bio's first senior vice president of engineering and biomanufacturing, Don DiMasi will focus on expanding the company's biomanufacturing capacity and developing new processes to economically scale up fermentation processes to commercial volumes of its designer fat ingredients.

DiMasi served numerous executive positions in the plant-based industry, including C16 Biosciences, Brightseed, Bond Pet Foods, Corbion (formerly Solazyme) where he was involved in the creation of sustainable alternative to palm oil, biotech AI, alt-meat pet food and algae-derived biofuels, ingredients and cosmetics.

Prior to Yali Bio, DiMasi served as SVP of engineering and process development for Impossible Foods from 2015-2019, where he designed and constructed the company’s fermentation, downstream processing and manufacturing facilities.

Yali Bio specializes in precision fermented lipids and fats for plant-based food products. The San Francisco-based company ferments yeast from feedstocks into carbon-neutral, nutritious, designer fats​, according to the company.

The company has raised $5m to date since it was founded in 2021. Investors range from the active food and biotech space, including Essential, #kVC, S2G, FTW and Illumina accelerator. In March, Yali Bio joined MISTA’s food innovation platform to expand its network of CPG food and ingredient companies.     

Creating a “meatier” plant-based food experience

Traditionally, dairy and meat alternatives are challenged with achieving animal-like fat texture. Microbe-based fats may offer a significant opportunity for companies to deliver a “meatier” experience that resembles animal meat, in contrast to plant-based oils.

Yali Bio uses synthetic biology to design and program fungi to produce animal-like fats without using animals; the fats are then extracted from the fungi cells and separated from the rest of the biomass, as previously​ reported by FoodNavigator-USA.

While plant-based meat manufacturers relied on hard fats like coconut, its low melting point causes it to leak out of the meat matrix, producing a drier texture. While its inimitable flavor conflicts with the “meaty” animal fat experience consumers are looking for without adding flavor additives.

“These designer fats can be used by food companies to create innovative products or improve the ones they already have in order to increase nutrition, improve taste and texture, lower costs and reduce carbon footprints, Yulin Lu, CEO, Yali Bio said in a statement.

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