The BBC reports: “I’ve tasted it, and it’s great. If I had to put a flavour on it, I’d say it’s slightly umami,” says Peter Rowe, chief executive of biotech firm Deep Branch.
Mr Rowe clearly takes his work seriously, as he is not talking about food for humans. Instead, he has sampled an artificial protein that has been created to feed to animals.
Mr Rowe and his partners are trying to reduce the carbon footprint of animal feed which is often shipped around the world.
“If you take soy production, which is the primary protein source for feeding things like chickens, or if you take fishmeal production, which is the primary protein source for salmon, both of these tend to be done in South America,” says Mr Rowe.
In the case of fishmeal, anchovies are caught off the Pacific coast of Peru and Chile, processed and shipped around the world. Similarly, soy plantations in Brazil or Argentina may involve clearing forest and require large quantities of fertiliser, heavy usage of agricultural machinery and, again, long-distance shipping.
“So a lot of the carbon intensity comes from the processes themselves, and a big part is the carbon intensity of shipping it over,” says Mr Rowe.
One answer is to base animal feeds on single-cell proteins (SCPs), produced through a fermentation process involving yeast, bacteria or algae. Plants can be located anywhere that there’s an available feedstock for the micro-organisms: methane, ethanol, sugar, biogas or even wood.