PoLoPo Unveils ‘SuperAA’ to Turn Potatoes Into Protein Factories Via Molecular Farming

Today, Israel-based startup PoLoPo announced it has deployed its molecular farming technology, a system that uses a genetically engineered potato to produce egg proteins, at greenhouse production scale. The company’s protein production system, which it has dubbed the SuperAA platform, grows proteins within a potato’s tuber, which is then harvested and extracted into protein powder.

Molecular farming, which produces animal protein using seed crops, has gained traction in recent years. The technique, which the Good Food Institute named the “fourth pillar” for alt protein, uses genetic engineering to introduce animal DNA directly into the seeds, transforming the resulting crops into protein factories. Once the genetically engineered seeds are planted, traditional farming management techniques can be employed to grow the crops until they are ready for harvest.

The technique has gained momentum in recent years, partly because of the cost savings it promises to introduce. After all, there is no more efficient way to produce calories for human consumption than by sprouting them from the ground. By transforming plants into small bioreactors, molecular farming companies can take advantage of the scalability and cost-effectiveness of leveraging traditional row crops as protein production engines.

PoLoPo’s founders say that the growing demand for egg-derived ingredients like ovalbumin highlights their system’s potential. Ovalbumin helps a food’s texture and increases shelf life in baked goods and plant-based meat alternatives. However, it has been in short supply in recent years, with avian flu outbreaks roiling egg production and costs surging.

The company will sell the processed protein powders to food manufacturers, who will be able to slot them into existing food production lines. The global ovalbumin-powder market is expected to hit $36 billion by 2032, according to the company. PoLoPo raised $1.75 million in seed funding last year.

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