“The worldwide demand for fat keeps growing. There is, globally, an archaic but gigantic US$ 222 billion fat market.”
Sérgio Pinto is the founder of Cellva, a Brazilian startup that develops and manufactures animal fat through cell culture.
Pinto holds a degree in marketing, with an MBA from Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie and is a former director of innovation at BRF.
AgriBrasilis – Why is it a good idea to produce pork fat in the laboratory?
Sérgio Pinto – The worldwide demand for fat keeps growing. There is, globally, an archaic but gigantic US$ 222 billion fat market.
Fat is a fundamental element in our nutrition, as are proteins, amino acids, water and carbohydrates. However, today the animal fat production process is insufficient, highly impactful, and hostile to the environment.
Cellva produces fat in just 21 days, without slaughtering a single animal. Conventional pork fat would take almost three years, including the slaughter. As we speak, there are over two million animals waiting to be slaughtered. That will be unnecessary in the future.
AgriBrasilis – How is this process carried out? Is lab fat cheaper?
Sérgio Pinto – From a simple biopsy, without harming the animals, we select the cells with the best profile for consumption. We feed these cells with natural ingredients, in an environment of high control and technology, generating the same product as the conventional process, only in a cleaner and safer way. Today, like any new venture, we are still more expensive, but by 2027 we will reach cost parity.
AgriBrasilis – When should the product be approved by Anvisa?
Sérgio Pinto – It is estimated that by 2024. It is worth emphasizing the importance of the market for the country, since today Brazil is the 2nd largest producer of food and the 4th largest producer of fat in the world, producing approximately 5.5% of all the fat that supplies the planet.
AgriBrasilis – Who is the potential consumer of this type of product?
Sérgio Pinto – The entire “concerned” market at first, because of the positive impact we generate. In the medium term, we envision the entire fat market: food, hygiene, beauty and pet products, to name a few.
AgriBrasilis – Is this product considered vegan?
Sérgio Pinto – No, since it contains animal DNA, but research shows that when the consumer is vegan by ideology, and not by some food restriction, he is a potential consumer of our fat.
AgriBrasilis – Is this fat the same as “conventional” fat?
Sérgio Pinto – In a laboratory analysis, it is the same: same origin, profile and structure. The focus of our product, however, is to be superior, with less saturated fats, that are “worse” for humans.
AgriBrasilis – What are the company’s prospects and which partnerships are being developed?
Sérgio Pinto – We want to lead access to quality ingredients and food through biotechnology. Brazil has the potential to be an undisputed leader in the area. Today, we already have partnerships with companies, academic centers and accelerators in Brazil, Spain and Germany, for example.