California-based alternative protein company TerViva recently signed a deal with the dairy giant Danone to produce new plant-based products. The growing company uses oil sourced from Pongamia trees to create a plant-based protein, trees that are part of the pea family, producing a golden, thick oil with a neutral taste. The Pongamia-based company managed to raise $54 million dollars in its last investment round in 2020.

TerViva's Pongamia-based food ingredients broaden access to healthy and environmentally sustainable foods that directly combat climate change, founder and CEO of TerViva Naveen Sikka said. “With our food ingredients, we can feed the planet and heal it at the same time.”

The brand started researching the Pangomia trees because they carry a similar protein yield to soybeans, leading to its usage in the new plant-based protein. The company hopes to facilitate a farming and cultivating process that does not remove or minimize the nutrients during harvest. The company hopes to develop products that will uphold sustainability and nutritional standards.

Danone aims to work with TerViva to release a range of food products that use Pongamia oil and plant proteins. TerViva plans to open a manufacturing facility within the US by 2022 to begin its own production of Pongamia-based foods. The investment round and subsequent partnership with TerViva will propel its product and manufacturing tactics to a global scale, accelerating the process. TerViva has already started planting trees in Florida, Hawaii, and Australia.

“We believe that healthy foods need a healthy planet with thriving ecosystems and strong, resilient social structures,” the global director of open innovation and circular economy for food of Danone Merjin Dols said. “This is why we are excited to team up with TerViva to co-develop important ingredients - edible protein and oil - from the Pongamia tree, while also rehabilitating the soil the tree grows in.”

Earlier this year, Danone released a line of plant-based creamers to keep up with the growing demand for plant-based dairy. The Honest to Goodness range uses almond milk and coconut oil to bring coffee drinkers the perfect supplement to traditional creamer. Alongside the partnership with TerViva, Danone is showcasing its dedication to a changing market and a shifting consumer base.

“We know that plant-based is a tren and it has amazing growth in the marketplace, and flexitarianism is on the rise,” Danone’s North American Vice President of marketing Olivia Sanchez said. “We see those shoppers wanting to lean into newer propositions and exploring what is in the plant-based set, and so Honest to Goodness is really designed for that consumer in mind.”

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