Leaft Foods, recipient of the Ārohia Innovation Trailblazer grant, is pioneering the sustainable leaf protein industry. By commercialising the production of Rubisco, a leaf-derived protein, they aim to establish a value chain that leverages local growers, infrastructure, and supply chain partnerships to create a low impact, high value protein and range of sustainable ingredients.
Who are Leaft Foods?
Leaft Foods, founded in 2019, has set out to work in partnership with existing agricultural systems, by creating an integrated system that significantly reduces the environmental impact of farming on the planet, while producing sustainable food ingredients and products.
Leaft Foods’ proprietary technology converts leafy crops into high-value ingredients for use in a broad range of foods. Leaft Foods captures Rubisco, the most plentiful protein on the planet - existing in green leaves and responsible for photosynthesis. Their technology opens up a new way of food production that taps into one of the world's most abundant and sustainable food sources. The system also produces animal feed optimised for ruminant (cattle, sheep, etc) nutrition, which lowers nitrogen losses and overall greenhouse gas emissions on-farm.
Leaft Foods’ benefits to the innovation ecosystem
New Zealand has an international reputation for producing sustainable, high-quality food, but is not recognised as a plant protein producer. Leaft Foods helps move Aotearoa New Zealand towards being a global leader in plant protein, by allowing farmers and growers to diversify in a complementary way to their current farming system, whether that is dairy, sheep, beef or arable.
The creation of this new product allows growers, logistics partners, service providers and other food and fibre industry participants to build new products and services on top of this new value chain. Additionally innovative new manufacturing processes and product developments may come from this new method of extracting plant protein.
What the panel had to say about Leaft Foods:
Leaft Foods presented an exciting new product, with the potential to diversify the agricultural industry, providing strong benefits across the Aotearoa New Zealand food chain and farming ecosystem.
They made a strong case to demonstrate commercial viability and evidenced a clear vision for sustainable growth in the food industry, as well as a strong working relationship with local iwi, Ngai Tahu.
Leaft Foods have created a new and exciting product, with key points of difference that will blaze a trail in their sector, and is deserving of global success.
How Leaft Foods will be investing their grant
Leaft Foods will use the Ārohia Full Grant funding they receive to help commercialise their proprietary technology. This will include customer research, detailed solution design, building sales capability, promotion and building of product prototypes. As a novel food, they will also be using funding to help safeguard their IP and ensure compliance with their target markets, such as with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the United States.
Leaft’s mission is to reduce the environmental impact of our food production systems. We are thrilled and honoured to be recipients of the Ārohia grant, which has come at a perfect time for us, supporting our go-to-market activities as we prepare to launch our Leaf protein products. This is a big milestone for us in our journey to create a new value chain delivering low impact and high value protein products into global markets from New Zealand.
Chris Simcock, Chief Financial Officer.
Sector/industry: Food and Beverage