Judith Swales, head of Fonterra's global consumer and foodservice business, said the move is part of the co-operative's commitment to its farmer-owners to stay at the forefront of innovation to understand and meet the changing preferences of consumers. While the terms will not be disclosed, Fonterra's investment represents a minority stake in the business.
"Farmers expect their co-op to get the most value from every drop of their milk and also keep an eye on tomorrow to futureproof their co-op for generations to come. Dairy nutrition will always be at our core, but we also want to explore how we can capture more value from new types of nutrition," Swales said.
She added: "The complementary nutrition category – where plant, insect, algae and fermentation-produced nutrition co-exist alongside animal proteins, including cows' milk – is fast evolving. It's not a case of either/or, but both. If we fast forward 30 years, there'll be two billion more mouths to feed and there simply won't be enough food to go around just using today's methods. A combination of traditional and complementary nutrition sources will be required to meet the world's increasing need for food, especially protein."
According to Swales, consumers worldwide will continue to prefer "natural, grass fed dairy as a premium source of nutrition."
"At the same time, we recognise that no two consumers are the same. As diets and preferences continue to evolve, we want to be there, providing people with choices," she said. "Our stake in Motif will help us be part of this emerging next-generation fermentation-produced nutrition sector."
Motif was established by Ginkgo Bioworks, one of the world's leading organism companies. Using a process similar to how insulin, vitamins and beer are made, Motif's team of world leading biotech experts will harness state-of-the-art genetic science and fermentation technology to recreate and sell animal proteins and food ingredients, including those similar to dairy ingredients.
Jonathan McIntyre, Motif Ingredients' CEO, said: "Through biotechnology and fermentation, Motif will propel the next food revolution with affordable, sustainable and accessible ingredients that meet the standards of chefs, food developers, and visionary brands."