Argentine “molecular farming” company Moolec Science reached a value of over US$1.2 billion this Tuesday in its market debut.
Moolec, a spinoff of Argentine biotech company Bioceres, was co-founded in 2020 by Gastón Paladini, who also acts as CEO.
The company claims it has developed technology to “include animal proteins’ gene DNA codes inside the genome” of edible plants. This would allow them to upgrade the “taste, texture, and nutritional values” of plant-based food, according to its website.
In June, Moolec announced it had created a SPAC (special purpose acquisition company), a mechanism in which a company without any activity can issue shares in the market by associating itself with another business.
On Tuesday, Delaware blank check company LightJump approved the business combination with Moolec. That day, Moolec’s shares skyrocketed by 266% in the New York Exchange under the LightJump NASDAQ ticker LJAQ and briefly reached a market value of equity that surpassed the billion-dollar mark. At the time of writing, the company had a US$600 million market value of equity.
Moolec hopes to start operating under its own ticker, MLEC, by January.
Paladini, who spent more than 20 years as a Director of Paladini Group, one of the largest meat production operations in Argentina, vows to “launch meat proteins from genetically-modified crops in late 2024, early 2025”, according to the company’s website.
“Soy and pea isolates and concentrates are the stars in a plant-based landscape,” said Paladini in an interview with The Spoon. “They are the main raw material to make plant-based products. We are actually doing the same process but with animal cells inside.”
In 2015, Bioceres patented the technology for artificially producing chymosin, an animal enzyme used in cheese production, using the safflower plant. Five years after that, the company created its spinoff, Moolec, to better focus on developing this technology.
After an auspicious market debut, Moolec could become the thirteenth Argentine unicorn – that is, companies that rapidly reach a market value of over a billion dollars. Other examples include Mercado Libre, Globant, OLX and Despegar.