Moolec Science goes public through the merger of SPAC

Diving brief:

  • Moolec Science, which uses genetically engineered plants to produce proteins typically found in animals, will go public on the Nasdaq through a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company. The deal, with LightJump Acquisition Corp., values ​​Moolec at $504 million. The Company’s trading symbol will be MLEC.
  • Moolec has created two products so far: chymosin, which is a protein used in cheese making that it produced in safflower; and nutritional oil gamma-linoleic acid. The company said it was increasing them and working towards a diversified portfolio.
  • The IPO market has been cold lately as inflation and a slowing economy have taken their toll on the markets. Several major food companies — including Chobani and Impossible Foods — recently backed out of plans to make their public debuts.

Overview of the dive:

As stocks have recently tumbled into a bear market, few people are thinking about IPOs. But it will take some time for this SPAC deal to come to fruition — Moolec said it’s expected in the last half year — and maybe by then it’ll be a little smoother sailing.

However, Moolec is already charting a course on a rough sea that excites some and makes others apprehend. Formerly a member of Bioceres Crop Solutions in Argentina, Moolec was created to commercialize the technology of using bio-modified plants to produce animal proteins.

And while developing its science, Moolec is also spearheading the GMforGood campaign, promoting the benefits of using genetic modification in food.

Moolec CEO and co-founder Gastón Paladini is the fourth generation of the Paladini family, whose eponymous meat business is one of the largest in Argentina. In a statement announcing the impending merger, he said Moolec’s mission is turning to science to solve global food security issues. During a session at the virtual FoodEdge conference last month, Paladini explained why he finds Moolec’s mission so important.

“I really believe that we need to find alternative solutions to produce animal proteins,” Paladini said. “I’m not against the traditional industry, of course, because of where I come from. And I also believe that we have to collaborate with established players. »

Moolec is already working with larger R&D players. The company announced last summer a partnership with Grupo Insud, which works in the pharmaceutical technology industry. The Moolec and Grupo Insud joint venture will use yeast, fungi and other microorganisms to produce animal-free ingredients that complement Moolec’s plant-based pipeline.

Unlike many publicly traded companies in the food industry, Moolec doesn’t have much on the market yet. Its chymosin and gamma-lineolic acid are in the ramp-up phase, and no other products have yet been announced. However, Moolec says it is expanding its seed supply and continuing its research, and the future possibilities are huge.

At last month’s conference, Paladini said Moolec is working to harness the power of plants – easy to grow in a variety of locations and climates, and with the natural ability to create lots of protein.

“We’re actually proving that we could align these proteins with commodity cost and plant structure,” Paladini said. “And if we could, if we could do it, we would be at a starting point close to cost parity.”

An IPO will provide Moolec with a cash injection to help it establish itself more broadly, as well as an outlet for investors to support its research and mission. But the market hasn’t been kind to food companies, especially lately. While several companies have gone public in the past year – many also under SPAC deals – the majority have seen their stock prices fall below IPO prices.

More recently, the track record for IPOs has been patchy. Vertical farming company AeroFarms was to go public through a merger with Spring Valley Acquisition Corp, but it was called off in October. Kalera, another vertical farming company, is still set to go public on the Nasdaq through a merger with Agrico Acquisition Corp. A meeting of shareholders to discuss the merger is scheduled for later this month.

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