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Alberta Yield: Farmer’s Legacy Biotech looking for a healthier saturated fat

For some time now, we’ve been told that saturated fats are bad for us.

Well, they aren’t good – but what if they were healthier?

That’s the goal of the Victoria-based start-up Farmer’s Legacy Biotech, who recently completed the Platform Calgary Alberta Yield accelerator program.

Pankaj Purwar is the founder of Farmer’s Legacy Biotech and he said that by altering the fatty acid profile in some oils, they can reduce how the saturated fats clog human arteries. That’s due to the effect of cholesterol.

“We want to create a safe success story, but this time with the saturated fatty acid,” Purwar said.

Purwar is a chemical engineer by trade, having spent his early career working with some of India’s biggest multinational companies.

He also spent time working on a project that utilized soy protein to convert that into pulses – which are a staple of the Indian diet. Purwar also spent time designing household products – primary and homecare products.

He took all of his past experience and the research and turned it into the formation of Farmer’s Legacy Biotech.

Altering the profile

Purwar said he’s working with the University of Victoria on the tech behind the oil modification process.

What they do is introduce an enzyme, then they change the fatty acid profile from mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids to separate the acids.

Once the enzymes are introduced, it enters the metabolic pathways and inhibits the introduction of the negative fatty acid profiles.

Lower number fatty acids are typically healthier (C2, etc), but plants typically can’t produce those profiles, Purwar said.

If a plant is producing a higher-level fatty acid and it becomes saturated, that’s when it becomes a health problem. If they can reduce a C18 or C20 through this process it becomes safer for consumption.

Global market

Saturated fats are used in food production in many areas of the world.

“We buy products that are bad, but our consumption pattern shows otherwise,” Purwar said.

“We think that this time a company has to come up with a global idea of making a healthy saturated fat, so that whatever health repercussions we have by the saturated fat consumption can be overcome.”

Working with the groups in the Alberta Yield program, Purwar said he’s being connected to people who can help them reach others in the industry.

“I have more on the technical side of it. I worked on the technical side of this project for a year,” he said.

Now he’s working on communicating how the process and the potential product works.

They’re going to be focusing their efforts on the North American market for the time being. 

Farmer’s Legacy Biotech will continue their work perfecting the lab process before applying for licensing. Purwar expects to be in the market by 2025 or 2026 with a healthier saturated fat.