CCI is a startup developing a new winter oilseed crop under the CoverCress brand.
Founded in 2013, the company is converting the common winter annual, field pennycress, using plant breeding to improve yield and maturity and gene editing tools to improve fiber and oil composition.
CoverCress seed would allow corn and soybean farmers to add a new crop into their rotation on existing land during winter, while offering the ecosystem benefits of a cover crop, including improved soil health and carbon sequestration, said CCI and Bunge.
The crop can generate farm revenue as a whole grain feed ingredient, or when processed, as a low carbon intensity oil for renewable fuel production, and as a high-protein meal for livestock and poultry feed, added the partners.
Under the commercial partnership, CCI will supply CoverCress grain produced under contract with farmers to Bunge for processing into animal feed and vegetable oil, which Chevron can use to produce biofuels such as renewable diesel via the joint venture it has with Bunge.
The goal is to grow millions of acres of the new oilseed crop across the lower Midwest, said the collaborators.
Revamping of crushing plants
Bunge, according to Reuters, is revamping some of its US crushing facilities to process the new oilseed.
"Expanding the support for this new winter oilseed crop is an ideal way to produce a lower carbon intensity feedstock that can help meet the growing demand for renewable fuels," said Bunge CEO, Greg Heckman, on a call on April 27.
Bunge Ventures, the for-profit, global investment arm of the agribusiness giant, led a Series B-1 financing round in CCI in April 2021 and recently increased its stake in startup through a Series C-1 round, while Chevron also acquired an interest in CCI through the same round.