Cargill relies on Cocuus and its technology to 3D print steaks, bacon and salmon

June 9, 2022




The US giant is participating in a 2.5 million round of financing for the Spanish startup. Its technology makes it possible to produce food analogous to animal protein.

Would you dare to eat a cutlet, pieces of salmon or 3D printed bacon? The proposal may seem far-fetched, but it is becoming less so in view of the achievements of the Navarre-based company Cocuus - which has developed technological solutions for the production of food analogues of plant- or cell-based animal protein - and the interest that the start-up has aroused in the US agri-food giant Cargill. Cargill has just become a shareholder of the company after participating in a 2.5 million financing round.

Cocuus has managed to raise this capital after going through the acceleration programme of Eatable Adventures, a renowned food technology accelerator, which had already invested in the startup. The round was led by Big Idea Ventures, the New York-based alternative protein fund, Cargill Ventures, the accelerator and tech transfer fund Tech Transfer Agrifood.

Cocuus explained that with the money they plan to scale their business model and gain a presence in other international markets "to produce more sustainable and nutritious food with plant or cell-based animal protein analogues, using 3D printing, bioprinting and robotics technologies".

Behind the Navarrese brand are Patxi Larumbe, with a long career in engineering and robotics, Daniel Rico, an expert in graphic and industrial design, and Javier Zaratiegui, an architect and specialist in parametric design and robotics. "Thanks to this capital injection, we will be able to make our technology available to corporations that want to print proteins on an industrial scale," said Larumbe, founder and CEO of Cocuus. The firm is already building a plant where it will manufacture the machinery that it will then sell to other companies to produce the product that will reach the end user, including chops or lamb ribs based on pastas.

The first pilot machines will be installed at the plant in a matter of days. The company, with a current team of 20 people, told CincoDías that it has received interest from numerous clients, in addition to Cargill, although they did not want to reveal their names. They also clarified that their business is based on selling the machinery and ingredients needed to produce 3D food. It is like HP selling its printers and the inks to be able to print.

"The sustainability challenges in the food sector and the need to implement urgent measures mean that our national foodtech startup ecosystem is consolidating very fast, attracting important international investors and corporations," said José Luis Cabañero, CEO and founder of Eatable Adventures, who is confident that Cocuus will become a global leader in the emerging food bio-manufacturing sector.

According to Cabañero, the current environmental and world population scenario is leading to a rethinking of production methods in order to achieve a much more sustainable food system. FAO figures show that in 2050, in order to feed a population of 9.1 billion, food production will have to increase by 70% and meat production by more than 200 million tonnes. "This scenario has brought with it enormous investment opportunities for entrepreneurs and large corporations looking for innovative solutions that involve the entire agri-food value chain. Proof of this is that Spanish investment in foodtech has grown by 220% in 2021," he added.

Cocuus, which has received several innovation awards, also offers technological solutions for making printed purees for nursing homes and hospitals, which can take the form of a piece of chicken or fish. An option designed for people who have difficulty chewing.

As they explain on their website, the company transforms food into data. "We carry out an analysis of the morphological structure of different foods and, based on this, we develop mathematical models that allow them not only to reconstruct them but to do so in a scalable way. Their goal? to lead the printing of the food of the future.

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Post by David Sanchez

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