Shiru Commercializes First Food Ingredient Based on AI-Powered Discovery Platform

Officials at Shiru say the company has commercialized the first food ingredient developed using its artificial intelligence-based discovery approach—OleoProTM, a novel, plant protein-based fat ingredient for use in a range of alternative protein food products.

Credit: Shiru

OleoPro, which reportedly enables up to a 90% reduction in saturated fat while enhancing technical performance in alternative meats when compared to commonly used, carbon-intensive and cardiovascularly damaging structured fats, is self-standing, holds its shape at room temperature, browns when cooked, and “delivers a juicy, fatty mouthfeel in plant-based meat applications,” according to Shiru’s CEO and founder, Jasmin Hume, PhD.

The first commercial partner for OleoPro is Griffith Foods. Shiru debuted OleoPro in March at a global food tech conference in a plant-based chicken karaage, developed by Griffith’s corporate venture arm, Nourish Ventures.

“One of the biggest barriers to making delicious, nutritious and scalable food is cost, specifically the burden of developing plant-based ingredients that perform exactly like their high-carbon animal analogs,” pointed out Hume. “Shiru’s pioneering use of artificial intelligence is collapsing the cost and time cycle of food innovation. That’s why dozens of companies are looking to outsource development projects for key ingredients to our world-class team.”

AI from the start

Shiru was founded in 2019 as a business-to-business synthetic biology company, which has worked directly with global food conglomerates including CP Kelco, Puratos, and others. Hume says Shiru has been using artificial intelligence and machine learning since its founding to drive down the cost of molecule discovery and scaleup, identifying the most high-functionality, commercializable, and natural proteins for food from a database of hundreds of millions.

To produce OleoPro, Shiru’s biochemists and computational biologists used AI and bioinformatics to scan and select nearly 10,000 formulations in less than three months. Then they determined the precise molecules that would combine to form an ingredient with the unique oil-holding protein scaffold of animal fat.

Shiru’s use of AI significantly accelerates the pace of synthetic biology, which combines engineering with biology to design and build new biological systems, continues Hume. Classical synbio tools include genetic engineering, DNA synthesis, and cell engineering. Combined with AI, synbio could revolutionize medicine, agriculture, and energy within a half-decade, noted Hume.