“Good health starts at the core,” said Nirmal Nair, CEO and founder at Sempera Organics and former Silicon Valley software engineer with a passion for fungi. “All mushrooms literally nourish the body with their high amounts of beta-glucans and other key nutrients, and many work synergistically to accomplish targeted core support.”
Mushrooms are researched, grown and processed in Morgan Hill, CA – home to the annual Mushroom Mardi Gras since 1980 – at Sempera’s sterile climate-controlled indoor lab farm using vertical farming methods.
Fungi for the ‘big wellness challenges’
Sempera Organics launched its first bulk mushroom powders in 2021 into a global functional mushroom market valued at $24.9 billion and projected to expand at a CAGR of 9.5% to reach $47.2 billion by 2028, according to data from Grand View Research.
In addition to providing mushrooms as meat alternative, Nair explained that Sempera is focused on developing condition-specific solutions to the “big wellness challenges” as growth category for fungi. The company currently offers a catalog of over 25 species and 50 strains.
“We want to provide benefit-driven extracts based on the bioactives specific to each species and decided to start with Lion’s Mane, Reishi and Cordyceps primarily to address the most pressing health concerns – cognition and mental health, immune health, optimal health and performance, gut health and healthy aging,” Nair told NutraIngredients-USA.
The blends include Clarity Core “to protect cognitive functioning and energy”, Biome Core “to support a healthy GI system”, Performance Core “for serious athletes, fitness enthusiasts and active adults”, Agewell Core “to protect against oxidative stress” and Immune Core, “a proprietary blend of seven mushrooms”.
Ingredients are all standardized to 20% beta glucans and are non-GMO Project Verified, USDA Organic, gluten-free, kosher, vegan and cGMP compliant. Powders, extracts and blends are packaged in bulk quantities starting from 1 kg to one-ton pallets and are formulated for a variety of applications from capsules to gummies to ready-to-drink and ready-to-mix beverages.
Inside the farm lab
Sempera Organics is headquartered in an 8,700-square-foot laboratory and facility, built in 2020 as vertical research, farming and manufacturing operation. It includes genetics, substrate preparation, inoculation, fermentation, quality control, processing and packaging and expects to produce close to 70 tons of finished product a year.
“Our manufacturing process, based on solid-state fermentation, is optimized to yield products that contain both mycelium and fruiting bodies,” Nair explained.
“The fungi we grow are saprotrophic; they can consume dead organic matter, specifically organic sorghum and other common whole food ingredients. The mycelial biomass consumes the substrate, ultimately improving its nutritional composition and adding a massive range of new biomolecular activity that underlies the benefits we know and love.”
The company’s proprietary green chemistry and clean extraction technologies were designed to capture the full spectrum of water-soluble polysaccharides and the water-insoluble triterpenes and sterols of the various mushroom species. Nair adds that blends are strictly fungi-based and are free of fillers like rice.
The Sempera start-up team
The Sempera start-up team includes two Michelin star chef Srijith Gopinathan as chief culinary officer, Professor Emeritus at San Francisco State University Dennis Desjardin as chief mycologist, Nutritional Business Journal founder Grant Ferrier as chief strategy officer, nutraceutical and functional foods expert Lynda Doyle as Senior Advisor for Regulatory and Scientific Affairs, and Gordon Biersch Brewery founder Dan Gordon as advisor.