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Delivering natural, affordable alternatives to synthetic ingredients 

Article-Delivering natural, affordable alternatives to synthetic ingredients 

© Food And Feed Biotech SL mmmico eats copyright Food And Feed Biotech SL (1).jpg
Mmmico Eats is a Spanish start-up that says it can free brands from their dependence on synthetic ingredients. Using fermentation, artificial intelligence and a “targeted evolution approach”, it can create natural alternatives for artificial additives.

The technology behind Mmmico Eats is based on using microorganisms to produce natural alternatives. The company combines these small ‘biofactories’ with cutting edge AI technology, in a way that enables them to develop ingredients incredibly efficiently.

What we do is combine fermentation technology with directed evolution, a process in which we accelerate the evolution of these microorganisms,” explains Mmmico Eats’ CEO Javier Viña. “An artificial intelligence tool allows us to predict possible evolutionary paths and choose the shortest one, so that we can develop ingredients more quickly and economically.”

Viña sees this directed evolution approach a little like being the conductor of a science orchestra. Microorganisms are nudged and tweaked, to enable them to evolve in ways that best serve humanity. “Imagine compressing all that evolution into a short period,” he says. “Each generation is more efficient in producing our ingredients than the previous one.”

Viña believes that Mmmico Eats is the first company to apply this targeted evolution approach to the production of ingredients. “Through the innovative convergence of fermentation, artificial intelligence, and our ‘directed evolution’ of microorganisms, we are forging a new platform,” he says.

“This holds the promise of freeing us from our dependence on synthetic ingredients. We see ourselves as paving the way for a future where nature and technology collaborate harmoniously to nurture and sustain our world in sustainable and unexplored ways.”

Technological solutions for the sustainable transition

Mmmico Eats was created out of a desire to speed up the sustainable transition, by applying technological solutions to pressing issues. In particular, Viña and his team saw huge potential in using microbiology to develop natural, sustainable ingredients.

“As consumers, we recognised the enormous amount of artificial ingredients in our foods and other essential products,” he explains. “Many of these ingredients come from petroleum, and they are harmful to health and of course to the planet.”

Indeed, these synthetic ingredients are present in a range of items, from single-use plastics that do not degrade, to ingredients used in the production of food. Growing consumer awareness of the potential environmental and health risks of these ingredients has placed growing pressure on industry to find sustainable alternatives.

Viña and his colleagues realised that large food companies were not always successful in finding cost-effective, functional natural alternatives to these ingredients. Mmmico Eats was established to fill this gap, and help formulators meet consumer demand. After the usual start-up challenges of securing financing and overcoming bureaucratic hurdles, the company began to make in-roads into the food production industry.

Raising awareness and getting inspired

For this breakthrough, Mmmico Eats was recognised as a finalist at last year’s FIE Startup Innovation Challenge, for most innovative service or AI solution supporting the food and beverage industry. “A startup must constantly put its idea in front of the market,” says Viña.

“We thought that participating in the Startup Challenge, and meeting industry experts, would be a phenomenal way of getting feedback and making ourselves known. Creating media impact for technology companies like ours is essential, because a great idea without the necessary awareness might never succeed.”

Viña believes that the company was able to obtain some valuable feedback from important industry players, who in turn were also interested in what Mmmico Eats was trying to achieve. “Participating in the Challenge allowed us to address some points of our value proposition, and to be inspired with some new ideas,” he says. “The learning never stops.”

A novel, affordable, and natural alternative

Moving forward, Viña sees key clients as including major players in the food, animal feed, nutraceutical, and cosmetic sectors. He believes that Mmmico Eats offers these companies a novel, affordable, and natural alternative that can help them to eliminate artificial ingredients derived from petroleum from their products.

“We will continue to develop our ingredient development platform, in order to offer the world natural and sustainable alternatives in these industries,” he says. “Our aim is to become a world leader in what we do.”

Viña believes that the food industry is open to innovation, and interested in the unique value proposition being pioneered by Mmmico Eats. “Acceptance has been very good,” he says. “We have received numerous expressions of interest since the launch of our company, and more especially since our participation at the FI Europe Startup Innovation Challenge.”