Imagindairy ferments casein and whey, expects launch in two years1 Jul 2021
Israeli startup Imagindairy is aiming to take cows out of the dairy equation entirely with its animal-free casein and whey proteins that it has developed over the course of 15 years of research. The company says that its proprietary fermentation technology creates analogous dairy proteins that have the flavor, texture and functionality of their animal counterparts.
Within three to five days, Imagindairy takes yeast and converts it through precision fermentation into a protein that is “indistinguishable” from cow-based options except for the fact that it is non-dairy and lactose-free. It also has no cholesterol, GMOs, and a minimal impact on the environment.
Consumers continue to seek out products that are better for the environment than options that have long been available on supermarket shelves. This means that animal dairy has progressively been pushed aside in favor of plant-based options such as almond and oat milk, both of which categories grew enormously in 2020. Sales of oat milk reached $213.35 million in the 52 weeks before Sept. 6, 2020, up 350.8% from 2019, according to SPINS data. Almond milk, the largest plant-based milk variety in terms of market share, brought in $1.497 billion in that same 52-week period.
However, there are hidden costs associated with these alternatives. Pesticide exposure from growing mass quantities of almonds and oats has damaged the environment and has even been shown to be detrimental to bee colonies that are sent to winter in California almond groves, The BBC reported.
Imaginedairy hopes to alleviate some of these environmental costs through its engineered proteins. “I look forward to being able to give my kids such treats as a cup of nutritious, tasty milk or creamy yogurt without the hard impact on animals or on the environment they must inherit,” Imagindairy CEO Eyal Afergan said in a statement.
To take its research out of the lab and provide consumers with the opportunity to try products made with its whey and casein proteins, the company said that it will begin commercialization with a B2B strategy. It expects its first proteins will become available in two years to food brands that will then be able to begin incorporating them into their formulations.
On its path to disruption, Imagindairy will need funding. Already, the Israeli startup raised $1.5 million in seed funding in a round led by The Kitchen FoodTech hub, with contributions from the Israeli Innovative Authority, CPT Capital, New Crop Capital, and Entrée Capital. However, in its release, the company noted that it will soon enter its Series A funding round.
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