Live Green Group partners with Sigma to make clean-label ingredients

Dive Brief:

  • A new partnership will focus on replacing chemical food additives — including methylcellulose and other emulsifiers and gums — with natural and plant-based alternatives. Working together on this inititative is The Live Green Group and FoodForms Solutions, a startup dedicated to re-engineering food developed by Mexican global food giant Sigma.
  • Through this partnership, Live Green will use its Charaka algorithm — which contains information about the way different plant ingredients have been traditionally used around the world — and FoodForms will bring Sigma’s consumer knowledge, food R&D expertise and scaling capabilities to the table.
  • This is not the first time Sigma and Live Green have collaborated. Live Green was part of the inaugural Tastech by Sigma accelerator program, and Sigma took a minority stake in the company last April.

Dive Insight:

This agreement gives The Live Green Group the opportunity to work toward solving the very issue that has been at its core from day one: replacing synthetic, processed, unsustainable and unhealthy ingredients with more natural ones. And considering the popularity of the clean label movement and recent consumer backlash against more lab-derived ingredients, this is something that many manufacturers could want.

Live Green was founded as a platform to replace animal-based and more processed ingredients with ones that work in the plant kingdom. The company got started in Chile, and it worked with four international accelerator programs. Live Green launched plant-based ice cream as well as burger and drink mixes in Chile to show what the Charaka algorithm could do.

With this partnership, Live Green is pulling into the ingredients space, which is where it’s always wanted to be. In an email, founder Priyanka Srinivas said the company will use Charaka to help manufacturers find less processed plant-based alternatives to replace synthetic ingredients. For its part, Sigma will help make these solutions affordable on a global level.

This is the latest development in a big year for Live Green. The company closed a $7 million Pre-Series A round in January. It used the funds to move to Boston, strengthen the capabilities of the Charaka algorithm and work toward partnerships. In March, Live Green merged five Chilean vegan-food startups into its company: lupines-focused Terrarium, South American distributor Regional Food, sugar reduction company Aztlan, protein-rich food maker Gitbit, and green and locally produced food product maker EcoKetrawe.

Food manufacturers have dedicated significant time and effort to reformulating to get away from more chemical-sounding ingredients. Methylcellulose, a common emulsifier, has in recent years borne the brunt of activists pointing out less-than-natural ingredients in plant-based products. A lawsuit filed against Beyond Meat specifically calls out the ingredient as an example of what the suit says is the brand’s not-quite-all-natural status.

Reformulation is always tricky, but with its CPG demo products, Live Green has shown it can get it done. This partnership could make it easier on other companies that are interested in cleaning up their labels, too.