First-ever animal-free lactoferrin in world-first tasting
TurtleTree, a producer of animal-free functional dairy proteins, has revealed what it suggests is the world's first precision fermentation-produced lactoferrin – LF+ – a high-value bioactive milk protein and one of the most powerful parts of cow's milk, with great functional benefits for immunity, iron regulation, and digestive health.
TurtleTree hosted an exclusive tasting event in San Francisco, giving investors and food partners a sneak peek at the protein's potential ahead of its launch later this year. Guests will enjoy LF+-powered food and beverages that deliver delicious, unadulterated flavor coupled with health-boosting benefits.
Lactoferrin, otherwise known as 'pink gold' because of its high value and iron-rich pink hue, is naturally found in cow's milk but the low concentrations and current resource-intensive extraction processes limit access for many people. To put the value of lactoferrin into context with other dairy proteins like whey, which costs approximately US$1/kg, lactoferrin retails at between US$700-1,500/kg. These prices reflect the significant resources necessary to extract the highly-prized protein, with up to 10,000 liters of milk – or nearly 50 cows producing a week's worth of milk – required to obtain just 1kg of purified lactoferrin.
Although lactoferrin is already used in supplements and infant formulas today, supply scarcity means that demand cannot be met for other fertile segments like sports nutrition, where the protein's iron-regulating benefits can improve physical performance, aiding endurance, fatigue resistance, muscle strength, and energetic efficiency. Accessing lactoferrin directly through off-the-shelf whole cow's milk can be a challenge, with pasteurization removing up to 50% of the naturally occurring protein. Furthermore, for conscious consumers who make the switch to plant-based milk, where lactoferrin is not inherently present, maintaining intake of this important nutrient can be a struggle.
Through the use of precision fermentation – harnessing microbes as tiny factories embedded with lactoferrin's unique recipe – TurtleTree is removing high methane-emitting cows from the lactoferrin supply chain and unlocking an abundant, sustainable, and affordable source of the highly-prized nutrient. In doing so, TurtleTree is enabling the fortification of plant-based dairy products and other everyday foods, allowing all segments of the population to enjoy lactoferrin's benefits. With recent headlines criticizing plant-based food makers for falling short of consumer expectations on product nutrition – a key predictor of market adoption – TurtleTree is demonstrating how precision fermentation-derived proteins can help reduce the nutritional gap between conventional and plant-based products.
After TurtleTree's commercial launch of LF+, which is anticipated for Q4 2023, the company sees a clear path to profitability on a per unit basis within six to 12 months.
"By unlocking access to one of the most powerful and multifunctional proteins in milk, we are envisioning a better food future where more people than ever before can improve their personal nutrition sustainably," commented Fengru Lin, TurtleTree Founder & CEO. "Harnessing the power of precision fermentation will provide us with an abundant supply of these vital nutrients that can be enjoyed by all segments of the population through everyday food products."
"As one of TurtleTree's early investors, KBW Ventures recognized that transforming the food system requires studied innovation; a commitment to the science, and both ingenuity and integrity to see it through," added KBW Ventures Founder & CEO Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed. "Transforming the food system as a mission is the business of changemakers, and I am proud that we could play a role in fueling the world's future in food. TurtleTree's world first, the showcase of LF+, is what technology can do when mobilized for good."
"The development and debut of this highly valuable animal-free dairy protein is yet another innovative breakthrough that creates more sustainable food choices and a more sustainable food system," concluded Bruce Friedrich, Co-Founder & President, Good Food Institute. "Consumers deserve nutritious, affordable options that are produced in efficient, better-for-the-planet ways. With more private sector and public sector support, precision fermentation is one of the brilliant alternative protein technologies that can open up a world of possibilities on this front."
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