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A tech start-up working to make animal-free and protein-rich pet food has created the world’s first animal-free, cultured chicken meat protein for pet food applications.

Bond Pet Foods, which is backed by Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, says the prototype is ‘a big step’ on its way to scale-up and commercial production.

Production process

Scientists at Bond Pet Foods uses a ‘proprietary production process’ which it describes as ‘more humane and sustainable’ than conventional agriculture.

They take a blood sample (described as ‘harmless’) from a chicken, which is used to determine the genetic code for the best types of chicken proteins to nourish dogs and cats. The genetic code is then coupled with a strain of food-grade yeast.

When this yeast is grown in a fermentation tank, it churns out meat proteins that are identical to those typically produced on farm and field. It’s a similar fermentation process that’s been used for half a century to make enzymes for cheese, but Bond is reassembling the process to harvest high-quality animal proteins.

According to the company, the product – once fully developed – will have the same ‘primary nutrients of conventional chicken meat including its essential amino acids’, and will meet or exceed AAFCO requirements for both dogs and cats. Its first chicken-based products will debut in 2023.

‘Very promising’

Bond Foods has fed the chicken to dogs, and says there was ‘enthusiastic uptake from dog volunteers’. It is planning to run ‘more robust feeding trials’ in the future.

“Our initial tests with dog volunteers have been very promising, and its nutritionals, palatability and digestibility will only improve on our path to commercialization,” Pernilla Audibert, co-founder and CTO of Bond Pet Foods, said in a statement sent to Plant Based News.

“The science team at Bond is also working on the production of other cultured meat proteins made through a similar fermentation process. The successful chicken prototype is a demonstration of our technology’s potential to create a complete portfolio of animal proteins for pet consumption, and beyond.”

‘Responsible food production’

Rich Kelleman, co-founder and CEO of Bond Pet Foods, added: “A new wave of responsible food production is emerging, working with the best that nature and science has to offer, and our team is leading this wave in Pet.

“Our team’s continued developments are laying the foundation to bring high-value meat protein and nutrition to dogs and cats, while removing farm animals from the equation.”

Bond Pet Foods has just closed a bridge round of funding, which will be used to expedite its work, with follow-on from seed investors Lever VC and KBW Ventures, and new funds Stage 1 and Trellis Road participating.

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