Global animal nutrition group Nutreco is open to forging more partnerships and investing in alternative methods to produce protein going forward, Nutreco Investment Director Joost Matthijssen told IntraFish.

This comes a week after the company announced a strategic partnership with lab-grown seafood startup BlueNalu. Earlier this month, the two companies formalized a partnership agreement, which builds upon BlueNalu's platform technology for production of cell-based seafood products from a wide variety of species.

“Nutreco and its customers share critical challenges and when it comes to delivering on Nutreco’s mission of "Feeding the Future" partnerships are critical. Feeding the world’s growing population with quality proteins will require all potential sources: sustainable animal agriculture as well as alternative proteins," Matthijssen said.

"The approach to work with outside partners on technology more broadly is an added value to Nutreco overall. If we want to innovate in specific areas that will increase and expand our capabilities and competences we need collaboration, getting access to new skill-sets and to forge more partnerships that generate benefits for both parties."

What made Nutreco particularly excited about BlueNalu was the technology, the team, the species it focuses on, as well as the business plan of working with partners who can help accelerate its timeline.

"BlueNalu has a clear plan in place to address some of the barriers that they still have to overcome from a technology side," Matthijssen said.

The company also has access to a great pool of biotechnology experts as it is based in one of the leading biotech hubs, San Diego.

Early stage poses risk

As all companies working on cell-based protein production, BlueNalu is in its early stages, which is why many challenges may come along the way.

Nutreco is mindful of the risks that these partnerships with early stage technology can bring.

"We are aware that this type of technology project can also develop in different ways than currently envisaged, but the fact that there is a lot of upside potential if we can make things work is a really strong motivator to take the risk, make the effort and embrace it," Matthijssen said.

“We invest to learn more about the types of value that we can add to companies that we work with. We are very excited about having made this investment. Now, the proof of the pudding is in actually making the partnership work in terms of adding value."

Nutreco is still committed to its core business and will continue to focus on supplying sustainable, high quality nutritional solutions to its customers.