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Benson Hill, a crop genetics startup from St. Louis, created a new soybean that not only helps meet the demand for plant-based meats, but improves sustainability as well. The company developed a soybean with up to 50% more protein than current soybean varieties.
The initial launch will include 20,000 acres in 2021, and Benson Hill anticipates acres will expand to tenfold by 2022. Ultra-High Protein varieties will be available through the Benson Hill Seeds division.
Using traditional breeding techniques, no gene editing, Benson Hill anticipates this soybean variety will be in the hands of contracted farmers in 2021, according to Ag. The variety was first discovered by eMerge Genetics, a company that Benson Hill recently acquired.
Using its CropOS platform, they’re leveraging plant genetics to drive ingredient innovation for the end consumer. Benson Hill says they’re accelerating the path to market for new varieties through proprietary phenotyping, predictive breeding and environmental modeling algorithms.
“The Natural genetic diversity of plants is one of the most powerful sources of product differentiation for companies driving the modern food system,” said Matt Crisp, Benson Hill CEO in a recent press release. “Our Ultra-High Protein portfolio and channel capabilities enable Benson Hill to meet customers where they are and empower innovators with cost-effective, scalable solutions.”
The company will not only provide the seed genetics, but also process the bean and sell soybean protein concentrate to seed companies, too. Soybean protein concentrate is one of the key ingredients used in plant-based meat and dairy products. Benson Hill says it will contract with farmers to buy back soybeans for protein at the end of the season.