ISRAELI – Israeli precision fermentation startup Imagindairy has acquired and commenced operations at an industrial-scale plant in the Middle East for the production of animal-free dairy proteins.

Imagindairy, founded in 2020, recently received a ‘no questions’ approval letter from the FDA, becoming the third precision fermentation dairy company to achieve this regulatory milestone.

The acquisition of an industrial-scale facility marked Imagindairy as the first in the industry to fully own and operate large-scale production lines with a fermentation capacity of 100,000 liters.

The company plans to triple this volume in the next one to two years and is already producing industrial-sized batches at price parity with conventional dairy.

Imagindairy utilizes precision fermentation technology to produce dairy proteins without the need for cows.

The initial focus is on beta-lactoglobulin, the primary whey protein in bovine milk, representing 65% of the total whey content.

The recent FDA approval pertained to Imagindairy’s beta-lactoglobulin, following its self-affirmed Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status in August.

The production method involves AI-led microflora-based processes, utilizing microorganisms that are 20 times more efficient than cows in converting feed into proteins.

 Imagindairy employs the microbe Aspergillus oryzae, also known as koji mold, which is used by other precision fermentation companies like Formo for egg alternatives.

While beta-lactoglobulin is the current focus, Imagindairy is working on other proteins, including casein and other whey proteins like alpha-lactalbumin.

Eyal Afergan, Imagindairy’s co-founder and CEO, stated that the company is collaborating with partners on commercial projects and aims to support mass-market adoption.

“The cost parity achieved is a crucial factor, making animal-free dairy products economically competitive with their conventional counterparts,” he said.

“Imagindairy’s achievement aligns with broader industry efforts to address environmental concerns associated with traditional dairy production.“

He also highlighted that precision-fermented dairy products have been shown to have significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions, energy demands, and water consumption compared to conventional dairy.

While Imagindairy products are not yet available for consumers, the company plans to launch them in the U.S. later this year.

 Additionally, Imagindairy is pursuing regulatory clearance in other regions, including Israel, to expand its market presence and contribute to the transformation of the dairy industry.

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