Imagindairy, a Tel Aviv, Israel-based startup that re-creates dairy proteins without the cow, publicly announced itself and its technology today.
In a press release emailed to The Spoon, Imagindairy said that its micro-flora, precision fermentation technology re-creates nature-identical, animal-free versions of whey and casein proteins. These proteins can be used to develop analogs of dairy products such as cheese, milk and yogurt. Imagindairy says these analogs will have the same flavor, texture and nutritional value as conventional dairy products, and will also be lactose-free, and won’t carry the environmental and ethical complications around raising dairy livestock.
There is certainly an appetite for animal-free dairy products. Recent data from The Good Food Institute found that U.S. sales of plant-based cheese grew 42 percent over the past year and the category is now worth $270 million. More than 162 million units of plant-based yogurt were sold in 2020, up 20 percent over the last year. Meanwhile, sales of plant-based plant-based ice cream and frozen novelty was also up 20 percent with 88 million units sold in 2020.
Precision fermentation has been called the third pillar of alternative protein, alongside plant-based and cultured meat. Last year, the Good Food Institute reported that there were 44 companies working on fermentation-based alternative proteins, up from 23 in 2018. The best known is Perfect Day here in the U.S., which already has products made with its technology out in the market via the Brave Robot ice cream brand. In Germany, Formo (formerly Legendairy) said it will unveil its first precision fermented cheese this year. And over in the Asia-Pacific region, Change Foods is working on its own brand on animal-free cheese.
In its press announcement, Imagindairy said its technology can be “readily integrated” into existing dairy food production facilities. The company has raised $1.5 million in Seed funding, led by The Kitchen FoodTech hub with participation from the Israeli Innovative Authority, CPT Capital, New Crop Capital, and Entrée Capital.