Arcadia Biosciences President and CEO, Raj Ketkar, spoke with Proactive Investor’s Andrew Scott earlier this week at the Spring Investor Summit 2019, held in New York City. In the interview, featured below, Raj highlights some of the progress made in the last 12 months and looks to an exciting year ahead which will see a number of products moving to market across Arcadia’s proprietary GoodWheat branded specialist wheat ingredients, plus progress with regulatory approval in Argentina for the HB4 Drought Tolerance Trait Stacked with Herbicide Tolerance soybean traits, produced through Verdeca, a joint venture with Bioceres Crop Solutions Corp.
GoodWheat continues to gather momentum on the back of its launch in early 2018, enabling a wider range of specialty wheat options to meet evolving consumer demands. The platform currently includes non-GM wheat high fiber Resistant Starch (RS) and Reduced Gluten (RG) wheat varieties. Arcadia achieved key technical milestones in its high fiber, RS wheat lines in 2018, including 94 percent amylose, compared to 25 to 30 percent in traditional wheat. These increased levels of amylose correspond to higher levels of resistant starch, which are proven to deliver significant health benefits.
The first commercial GoodWheat products are expected to arrive in late 2019 or early 2020. Which, of course, is great news as, with Americans typically getting around 25% of their daily calorie intake from wheat, and a growing numbers of consumers making a conscious effort to reduce gluten in their diets, GoodWheat represents a significant opportunity for Arcadia to gain a leadership position in the rapidly growing market.
Verdeca introduced pre-commercial soybean varieties carrying the drought-tolerant HB4® trait to growers in Argentina at the country’s largest farm show, Expoagro, held last month in Argentina. The soybean varieties deliver two layers of value for growers: drought and herbicide tolerance. The HB4 trait, Verdeca’s first release from a pipeline of yield and quality traits, demonstrates the company’s ability to bring innovation to soybean growers. More than 1,200 attendees toured the Verdeca pavilion and field plots to see HB4 soybeans. Growers visiting the Verdeca pavilion signed on to the company’s Bio-Innovator program, which grants priority access to test HB4 soybean varieties in their fields.
Raj also recapped on the February 2019 launch of Arcadia Specialty Genomics, leveraging the company’s years of plant science, industry and regulatory expertise, offering value-added capabilities for rapid growth in cannabis-based functional ingredients. Centered around developing a proprietary germplasm estate and traits for license to cultivators, and for products serving the nutraceutical and food industries, all made possible through a proprietary approach combining conventional breeding, TILLING and gene editing. Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture recently granted Arcadia Biosciences a license for their Industrial Hemp Pilot Program. With this license, Arcadia Specialty Genomics can begin its research and cultivation immediately, and plans are already underway to begin planting in April.