ADM signs agreement to pursue development, production of ‘air protein’

ADM Cedar Rapids
ADM's plant in Cedar Rapids. CREDIT RICHARD PRATT

ADM and Air Protein have entered into a strategic development agreement to advance “new and novel” nutrition proteins from the air around us.

The new agreement was completed May 18.

Air Protein is a company developing air-based nutritional protein that requires no agriculture or farmland, decoupling protein production from traditional supply chain risks.

The agreement combines ADM’s nutrition, formulation and research expertise with Air Protein’s landless agriculture platform to identify ways to scale cost-effective ingredients that enable meat substitutes to deliver on their cost, nutrition, flavor and texture targets.

It also provides for the mutually exclusive rights for ADM and Air Protein to collaborate to build and operate the world’s first Air Protein commercial-scale plant.

“Food security and sustainability are two of the enduring trends driving the growth and evolution of protein demand, and ADM is at the forefront of expanding the entire protein ecosystem,” said Ian Pinner, ADM’s senior vice president for strategy and innovation, in a release. “We are proud to be a strategic investor in Air Protein, and with today’s agreement, we’re expanding our partnership to bring ADM’s industry-leading expertise in flavors and complete nutrition solutions to help expand the universe of applications in which Air Protein’s technology can be used. To sustainably feed a growing global population, we need a broad protein ecosystem, from animal to plant to other novel sources. ADM is proud to work with both startups and major consumer brands to leverage our full pantry of capabilities and expand opportunities that innovative technologies present.”

Prior to entering the agreement, ADM has served as a strong supporter of Air Protein through investment of Series A and SAFE funding, and along with others including the Ford Foundation, Barclays Sustainable Impact Capital, Plum Alley, and GV (formerly Google Ventures), Air Protein has raised $107 million in cumulative capital.

With the funding, Air Protein has accelerated the expansion of a world-class team of scientists, manufacturing and food experts, as well as the construction of its state-of-the-art “Air Farm” in San Leandro, California.

“Air Protein is excited to extend our relationship with ADM, which has been a strong supporter and collaborator in our mutual mission to provide innovative protein solutions that can sustainably feed the growing global population,” said Air Protein founder and CEO, Dr. Lisa Dyson. “Their continued commitment to building a more sustainable food system has helped us significantly accelerate and scale our Bay Area Air Farm and other growth initiatives.”

Ms. Dyson also noted that Air Protein successfully concluded an important regulatory review confirming their protein is GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe), noting that it “represents one more important milestone on our journey to provide consumers with the protein of the future.”

ADM operates a large corn processing facility in southwest Cedar Rapids.