California-based startup Plantible Foods believes aquatic plant “lemna”—also known as duckweed—is the next big plant-based protein. The flowering green plant, which can be found floating on the surface of still or slow-moving bodies of water, contains more complete protein and is more digestible than other plant-based proteins such as pea or rice, according to Plantible co-founder Maurits van de Ven. After the plant has gone through the company’s cold-press extraction process, the remaining white protein looks and behaves like an egg white, has a neutral taste, and is free from major allergens. “It hasn’t been a crop that humans have been eating because, in traditional agriculture, it’s always been harder to control the growth,” van de Ven told FoodNavigator-USA. “However, now technology, especially in aquaculture, has advanced.” Van de Ven also claims that duckweed is one of the fastest growing green leaf plants in the world and can be harvested daily, which allows the company to produce higher yields than traditional plant crops. Over the next two years, Plantible plans to scale and optimize its production and work with food scientists to develop ways to incorporate lemna into new food formulations.

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