Chromologics raises €7.1M in series seed to commercialize natural red food color Natu.Red
07 Mar 2023 --- Chromologics, a Danish biotech company specializing in natural food colors, has closed an extended seed round. The company raised an additional €7.1 million (US$7.5 million), accelerating the commercialization of the first product, the natural red food color Natu.Red that provides advantages for both consumers and food manufacturers.
The company raised equity from its existing investors, including Novo Holdings, Nordic Foodtech VC, Danmarks Eksport- og Investeringsfond, Synergetic and Blue Horizon, plus two new investors, Doehler Ventures and Thia Ventures.
Commenting on the demand for natural red food colors, Gerit Tolborg, CEO of Chromologics, tells FoodIngredientsFirst that consumer awareness of natural ingredients has increased significantly over the past decade.
“Driven by this consumer movement, more food manufacturing companies have decided to replace synthetic colors, such as Red40, with natural ones. Compared to existing natural colors like betanin and carmine, Natu.Red has great pH and temperature stability, a stable cost structure and a better sustainability profile. It is also compliant with vegan diets,” she explains.
Tolborg says “we all taste with our eyes, and consumer purchasing decisions are heavily driven by the appearance of the food products.” As such, the red appearance of foods like ice cream, candy and bakery products are associated with fruity and sweet tastes. Strawberry is the most common flavor, she adds.
“Once approved by the regulatory agencies, our beachhead market will be plant-based applications, where the usage of carmine is not an option. Thanks to our competitive price, we will also target the dairy and confectionery industry,” she further notes.
Since the meat industry is also looking to reduce nitrate in processed meat applications, Chromologics’ Natu.Red color could also provide a more healthy color alternative without compromising on performance.
Fermentation methods to advance natural colors
Tolborg tells us that Chromologics’ core fermentation process and identification of the novel color molecule was done during her PhD at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) between 2016 and 2017.
“There I met my co-founders and we founded Chromologics. Since then we kicked off regulatory approval, scale the process to industrial size and got our color Natu.Reds performance validated by important industry players in the F&B industry.”
Natu.Red is produced by a non-GMO filamentous fungus via precision fermentation. “After fermentation, the fungus is filtered away, and with some simple processing steps like further filtration and drying, we can create this powerful red powder,” she comments.
“Compared to the production of other natural colors, such as carmine and betanin, for the fermentation based production of Natu.Red, we mainly use sucrose as nutrient for the fungus.”
“Our fermentation process is highly effective,” continues Tolborg. “For the nutrient of the fungus, we only need limited farming space. For example, Chromologics’ fermentation process uses more than ten times less raw materials per farming space than the production of betanin from beetroot.
Co-founders, Tolborg and CTO Anders Ødum discovered this novel molecule and have, over the last five years, built Chromologics from a university spin-out to a company with its lab and pilot production facilities.
“Chromologics has demonstrated that, Natu.Red is an attractive and sustainable alternative to existing synthetic and natural food colors. It is great to see growing international interest and validation of the company from investors, strategic partners, and a growing number of potential customers,” explains Tolborg.
“The successful scale-up and production of the first several hundred kilos of Natu.Red, as well as the line of sight for regulatory approval, calls for accelerating the commercial development,” she adds.
The newly established Bioindustrials team at Novo Holdings has been established to support such a growth journey,” says Thomas Grotkjær, Partner at Novo Holdings, Chromologics’ largest investor.
“We look forward to supporting Chromologics as they develop and bring to market a range of natural food colors using their precision fermentation platform. We see a competitive advantage in this type of sustainable natural ingredient,” adds Rodrigo Hortega at Doehler Ventures, the investment arm of global natural ingredients supplier Doehler Group.
Chromologics’ has demonstrated the scalability of its fermentation process to an industrial scale, built a strong network of potential customers, and begun its regulatory approval program. Early results indicate cost-effective production and safe use of Natu.Red as a novel food additive.
During the coming funding period, Chromologics will further advance regulatory approval, establish a commercial production line, expand the portfolio toward additional colors, and progress on commercial execution.
By Elizabeth Green
To contact our editorial team please email us at email@example.com
Subscribe now to receive the latest news directly into your inbox.