Paulig's recent investment in the French biotech startup Amatera through its venture arm, PINC, marks a significant milestone in the quest for sustainable coffee cultivation. Amatera's groundbreaking technology accelerates the breeding of coffee beans by four to five times compared to conventional methods, without the use of GMOs. This aligns perfectly with Paulig's mission to develop a food culture that is beneficial for both people and the planet.
The Looming Coffee Crisis
Coffee is more than just a morning ritual; it's a global commodity with about a trillion cups consumed every year. However, this beloved beverage is facing an existential crisis due to climate change. Rising global temperatures are predicted to slash the area suitable for coffee cultivation by up to 50% by 2050. This is particularly alarming for high-quality Arabica beans, which are more climate-sensitive. As the demand for coffee continues to soar, the industry is under immense pressure to find innovative solutions that can make coffee cultivation resilient to climate change.
The Climate Change Factor
Climate change poses a multi-faceted threat to coffee cultivation. From altering rainfall patterns to increasing the prevalence of pests and diseases, the challenges are manifold. Traditional coffee varieties are not equipped to handle these rapidly changing environmental conditions, making the need for resilient coffee varieties more urgent than ever.
Amatera's Revolutionary Approach
"Coffee is under threat, but today it can take more than 20 years to create a new coffee variety with conventional breeding techniques**," says Amatera CEO Omar Dekkiche. This is where Amatera's technology comes into play. By working at the cellular level, the startup accelerates the natural evolution of plants, their selection, and hybridization. This approach is particularly groundbreaking for perennial crops like coffee, which are more complex to breed.
Molecular Biology: The Game Changer
Amatera leverages molecular biology to create climate-resilient crops from plant cell cultures. This not only speeds up the breeding process but also allows for the development of coffee varieties that are specifically designed to withstand the challenges posed by climate change. The technology is versatile enough to be applied to other perennial crops that are also threatened by climate change, such as cacao and grapes.
The Future of Coffee: "Robustica" and Beyond
Amatera aims to introduce a new coffee variety called "Robustica," a blend of the rich flavor of Arabica with the robustness and higher yield properties of Robusta. This new variety is expected to be more resilient to climate change, thereby ensuring the sustainability of coffee production. Additionally, Amatera is working on a naturally caffeine-free Arabica bean to cater to the growing consumer demand for decaffeinated coffee.
Investment and Strategic Alignment
The investment round of €1.5 million was led by PINC, with participation from various venture firms and biotech entrepreneurs. Marika King, Head of PINC, expressed her enthusiasm about the disruptive potential of Amatera's technology, stating that it aligns well with Paulig's core products and sustainability goals.
Paulig's strategic investment in Amatera is a crucial step toward a sustainable future for coffee cultivation. With its innovative technology, Amatera is not just poised to transform the coffee industry but also offers a blueprint for how biotechnology can be leveraged to combat the challenges of climate change in agriculture. As we grapple with the environmental crises of our time, such pioneering efforts are not just commendable but essential.