Imagindairy, an Israeli producer of animal-free milk proteins, has just raised an additional $15 million for its extended seed round.
Why it matters:
Global demand for alt-protein has been on the rise, with some predicting the market will be worth as much as $4.4 billion by 2026. This is being driven by population growth, diminishing agricultural land, and shifting dietary patterns.
“Everybody believes it’s imminent that there’s going to be a lack of protein in few years, and we must find the solution. Our investors are very bullish,” Imagindairy co-founder and CEO Eyal Afergan told AFN.
How it works:
Before launching the startup in 2018, Afergan had concluded that most alt-dairy products on the market were far in sensory and nutritional properties from animal-derived dairy. He and his co-founders wanted to offer the same experience to consumers without compromising on nutrition, taste, or texture.
Imagindairy’s precision fermentation platform significantly amplifies protein expression, enabling cost-effective production of animal-free milk proteins. This overcomes one of the biggest hurdles in alt-protein, allowing brands to sell dairy analogs at consumer-friendly prices – a major requirement for mass-market adoption.
The Tel Aviv-based startup is now producing non-GMO, lactose- and cholesterol-free whey protein. It aims to expand its range to include soft cheese, milk, and yogurt, targeting the US market due to its shorter regulatory timeframes as compared to the EU.
Imagindairy aims to launch its first products in 2023, with a B2B market entry strategy to leverage established brands’ knowhow and consumer bases. The startup will offer products under these brands, or will license their technology to them while providing technical support. It is now in dialogue with several major dairy food manufacturers seeking to diversify their product portfolios, Afergan said.
“I think the real transformation of the market will be within the industry. I don’t believe that we need to compete with players in the milk or dairy industry, but work together with them,” he added.
A few other startups producing alt-dairy products include:
What they’re saying:
“The Imagindairy team [have] made incredible inroads in creating dairy products that don’t rely on industrialized animal agriculture, but offer the same level of functionality and nutrition,” said Shmuel Chafets, executive chairman and founder at Target Global, in a statement.
“Animal-free dairy has the potential to become one of the most environmentally impactful industries on the planet.”
Jonathan Berger, CEO of The Kitchen FoodTech Hub, added that Imagindairy is “radically advancing the field of precision fermentation, making animal-free dairy products accessible and readily available to all.”