Startup introduces animal-free dairy proteins


Imagindairy’s technology can be integrated into existing dairy food production facilities. The startup has raised $1.5m in seed funding

Israeli startup Imagindairy is launching what it described as “true milk proteins,” that are indistinguishable from the real thing via a natural process of precision fermentation.

The company’s proprietary technology recreates animal-free versions of whey and casein proteins that can be used to produce dairy analogues. They have the flavour and texture, along with the functionality and nutritional value – of their animal-based counterparts, the company claims.

This is designed to open opportunities for a range of non-dairy products that perfectly mimic dairy versions yet contain no cholesterol or GMOs. The proteins also are lactose-free, serving consumers with lactose intolerance or sensitivity. At the same time, the proprietary technology would radically lower the burden of dairy livestock on the environment.

“Our microflora-based production method was inspired by nature to recreate these proteins,” said Eyal Afergan, PhD, co-founder and CEO of Imagindairy. The protein structure of dairy milk is what provides its characteristic texture, flavour, and nutritional value. Whey is a key source of highly biologically available protein. These animal-free dairy products reportedly boast the same complement of nutrients, from protein content to mineral composition, including calcium.

In response to growing awareness of animal welfare and the environmental impact of animal farming, supermarket shelves have become buoyant with alternative plant-based milk and dairy analogues. Yet in many respects, the company says, plant-based dairy alternatives fall short of meeting consumers’ sensory demands.

“Our vision was to deliver an animal-free version of the primary dairy proteins — whey and casein — that can allow product makers to match real dairy products in terms of protein concentration, nutrient profile, and the full sensory experiences of the animal-derived versions,” said Afergan. “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.”

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Imagindairy’s technology can be integrated into existing dairy food production facilities. The startup has raised $1.5m in seed funding, led by The Kitchen FoodTech hub, with contributions from the Israeli Innovative Authority, CPT Capital, New Crop Capital, and Entrée Capital, and will soon enter its A-round funding series.