- Danone Manifesto Ventures has lead a $7 million Series A funding round for Symbrosia, a startup that has developed an emissions-busting feed additive for cattle. Additional funding came from Pacific6, Hatch, Presidio Ventures, Kamehameha Schools and Mana Up.
- Symbrosia’s SeaGraze seaweed-based feed additive can reduce livestock methane emissions from enteric fermentation — or “cow burps” — by over 80%, according to the company. It will use the funds to scale up production and to bring the feed additive to market.
- Danone’s funding of Symbrosia supports its effort to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Methane, a harmful greenhouse gas that is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide, drives cattle’s high emissions footprint. Globally, livestock contributes 14.5% of manmade greenhouse gas emissions, with cattle responsible for the largest share, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations. Enteric fermentation represents 39% of total livestock emissions.
Symbrosia’s feed additive, with the support of a major CPG like Danone, could aid the cattle industry in fixing one of its primary sustainability issues. The beef and dairy industries have drawn significant criticism from environmental groups and spurred them to look for new solutions.
In 2020, Symbrosia completed a trial of its feed additive at a farm in Dover Plains, New York, which it said confirmed a “drastic” reduction in methane from livestock. Founder and CEO Alexia Akbay said that the funding will help the company scale the production of SeaGraze with strategic partners in Hawaii, California and the Pacific Northwest.
“The support from Danone Manifesto Ventures and our other investors, existing and new, will enable us to increase seaweed production by a factor of 1,000, round out our team expertise with strategic hires, and put SeaGraze in the hands of visionary companies and livestock producers to create the world’s most sustainable livestock supply chains,” Akbay said.
As a maker of dairy products such as Oikos and Activia brand yogurt, Danone relies on the cattle industry to source its milk, meaning lowering emissions is crucial to hit its net zero goal.
With the backing of Danone’s venture capital arm, Symbrosia has the potential to take SeaGraze to market before other feed additives that are still in the development stage. Ingredients maker Royal DSM has created a feed additive called Bovaer that it claims results in a 30% enteric methane emissions reduction from dairy cows and up to a 90% reduction for beef cows. The company told Food Dive earlier this year it is currently awaiting regulatory approval for the additive. Meat giant JBS entered into an agreement with Royal DSM to use the additive when it is available.
Unilever’s Ben & Jerry’s brand announced last month it will test a red seaweed feed additive made with a “leading innovator in the field” that could cut livestock emissions by 82%, according to the company. And last week, Cargill announced its acquisition of Delacon, a maker of “phytogenic” feed additives made of plants and herbs that can contribute to “the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions from livestock,” according to the company.