Imagindairy nets US$13M to boost plant-based milk protein production
17 Nov 2021 --- Imagindairy, a food tech company creating plant-based milk proteins identical to cows, has completed a US$13 million round of funding to advance their technology and production.
The company will invest the funds in expanding its facilities, increasing its team, and boost its R&D capacity.
“A growing number of people are looking to reduce or eliminate animal-based dairy products in their diet due to concerns about health, animal welfare and sustainability,” Dr. Eyal Afergan, co-founder and CEO of Imagindairy, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
“Plant-based solutions currently on the market tend to lack the flavor, mouthfeel, nutritional value and variety of dairy products, limiting adoption,” Afergan outlines. NPD includes oat-based milk, vegan cheese and plant-based chocolate. The dairy alternatives space has also seen some major acquisitions and investments recently.
“It’s hard for people to make big changes, especially when it comes to the foods they enjoy, but when there’s an alternative with the same flavor and experience that is more aligned to their values, it becomes easy,” he says.
The funding was led by MoreVC, a seed-stage investor in Israel managing US$275 million across three funds. Also joining this round was Strauss Group, Entrée Capital, S2G Ventures; Collaborative Fund, New Climate Ventures, Green Circle Foodtech Ventures; Emerald Technology Ventures and Pierre Besnainou.
Flexitarians represent the most significant growth opportunity for dairy-free alternatives and Imagindairy produces an animal-free alternative that does not compromise taste or mouthfeel.
“The market is eager to develop new dairy analogs based on our animal-free proteins. Once we reach commercialization, more consumers will be able to enjoy eating animal-free dairy products,” Afergan outlines.
Imagindairy feeds microorganisms instead of cows and the select microorganisms the company uses are up to 20 times more efficient than cows at converting feed into food. This offers food system resilience and helps to preserve the natural ecosystem, according to the company.
A key benefit of dairy-free milk proteins is the elimination of greenhouse gas emissions produced by dairy cows.
“Imagindairy successfully addresses the biggest limitation of precision fermentation technology – cost-effective animal-free milk protein production,” explains Eran Bielski, general partner at Entrée Capital.
Scaling to market obstacles
The funding round includes a pre-seed investment by Strauss Group, FoodSparks by PeakBridge, CPT Capital and Entrée Capital earlier this year.
Imagindairy is currently collaborating with dairy companies, offering a complete range of dairy-free proteins.
According to Afergan, their products have low production costs. “All companies in our domain face the same challenges: scale-up, downstream process, formulation and consumer acceptance but the biggest challenge of using precision fermentation to produce milk proteins is the high production cost.”
“Nobody would buy a bottle of milk for US$50 or even for US$15; therefore, cost-effective production is the key factor to driving a real change in the way we consume dairy products,” he says.
“Imagindairy’s innovative technology allows dairy companies to develop new products or reformulate existing products, without involving animals and with a dramatic reduction in carbon footprint,” adds Glen Schwaber, MoreVC partner.
“They have the technology to produce the dairy products of the future that consumers want today.”
Plant-based innovation is also breathing new life into staple meat and dairy brands looking to differentiate their portfolio. Industry players are exploring vegan alternatives with in-house R&D and business collaborations to capture more consumers.
By Inga de Jong
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