Lejjy Gaffour. Photography via LinkedIn
Tell me about the launch of Cult Food Science. What was the impetus for its creation?
We're focused on creating new companies and products in the cell-based space [with a focus on] making it part of everyday life.
When Cult Food Science started, it was focused on being the first publicly traded platform in North America in this space. There was no easy way for regular people to be able to invest or access these types of products and technologies at an early stage, just because they're newer.
The goal is to be able to provide that access. I still get emails every other month from someone saying that this is exactly what they want to be able to support, and put their dollars where they want to see change in the future because they're on the same wavelength. We have a portfolio of 19 companies globally, and we work with them quite heavily to create and introduce these new products.
There’s a tendency to view the technologies we're talking about through an environmental lens. But are there other factors that can make this a game-changing technology?
There are a few factors. Food security is one of them, in the case of particular auxiliary products or commodities that might be very heavily impacted by climate change. I'm 100% generalizing with this comment, but something like coffee, for example. It’s produced in particular climates where that may just become an issue as things change. These technologies will allow us to be able to continue to produce the goods that people want every day.
In addition to that, it’s also being able to create new and enhanced experiences as well – whether it's new types of food that were never before possible, [new] flavor profiles, and even things such as changing how long food can last. There are multiple aspects to these cell-based technologies.
[Read more: “Canada's food industry has an appetite for innovation”]
Are you developing and bringing products of your own to market, or are you primarily investing in companies that have already made some progress in the space and are looking for some sort of investment capital to jumpstart their initiative?
I would say it's a hybrid model, where we're both a venture studio and an investment company. Some of the companies that we have in our portfolio are very business-to-business focused – they spend all their time and energy on developing specific technology, and then we can actually work with them to make a consumer end product out of it.
If collagen is an individual ingredient, for example, they're focused on that hard part and that's where they have the problem solved, and then we'll work with them to get it into the hands of the consumers.
You’re said you’re currently working with 19 companies spanning categories like coffee, candy, pet foods, etc. Is the goal to eventually cover the spectrum of food products?
It’s getting into the different consumer-end products, whether that’s land-based meats, seafood or then other products such as chocolate, coffee, honey, collagen and others. Because there's so much ground to cover through these technologies.
[Read more: “Cult Food Science expands operations, plans cell-based product launches”]
Do you currently have any products available to purchase?
It depends where you live. In Canada, nothing at the moment. But we will have Cult Food Science-related products on the shelves in North America in the near-term. We will have our pet food items out in the very near-term, and then consumer products like candy and coffee will be next.
We use a staged release to be able to make sure we’re ticking all the boxes, doing it properly, and being able to iterate as we need and then expanding from there.