Dairy Dialog podcast 134: Milk Specialties Global, Motif FoodWorks, Sophie’s Bionutrients

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

Dairy Dialog podcast 134: Milk Specialties Global, Motif FoodWorks, Sophie’s Bionutrients
Dairy Dialog podcast 134: Milk Specialties Global, Motif FoodWorks, Sophie’s Bionutrients

Related tags Dairy alternatives microalgae plant-based Cheese Infant formula lactoferrin

This week we have conversations with Mike Leonard, Motif’s chief technology officer; Jing Hagert, VP of human nutrition ingredients sales for Milk Specialties Global; and Eugene Wang, co-founder and CEO of Sophie's Bionutrients.

We also have our regular look at the global dairy markets with Liam Fenton at StoneX.

Sophie's Bionutrients develops world's first dairy-free micro-algae-based milk alternative

Sophie's Bionutrients, a Singapore-based next-generation sustainable urban food production technology company, announced it has developed the world's first-ever micro-algae-based milk that promises to eliminate allergies making it safe for consumption for people with lactose-intolerance.

The milk alternative dairy replacement was made with Sophie's Bionutrients signature micro-algae protein flour with the same essential amino acids as micro-algae. The flour is then homogenized with water to create the dairy-free milk alternative.

The dairy alternative is comparable in nutritional value to cow's milk. However, the protein value can be elevated by up to 50% by altering ratios in the water-soluble micro-algae flour. The sample alt-milk produced has a similar texture to nut-based milk. However, it can be further refined to mimic the creamy texture of dairy.

Sophie's Bionutrients is the world's first food tech company to use microalgae and patent-pending technologies to develop 100% plant-based and sustainable alternative protein with the core vision that micro-algae is the superfood of the future.

"We believe in harnessing the power of nature to build a sustainable, greener future through environment-friendly alternate food solutions. We believe that micro-algae is the best place to help us achieve this.  It is the superfood of the future. Through further refinement with food and beverage producing partners developments like this one, the world's first allergen-free micro-algae milk, we believe we can transform the way we live, produce and consume food for the better,"​ said Eugene Wang, co-founder and CEO of Sophie's Bionutrients.

The world's population is expected to reach 9.7bn by the year 2050. As this increases, so too will the global middle class and the need for a more expensive meat-based diet. Given these trends, the pressure to find sustainable and cost-effective alternative food solutions is increasing daily.

In light of these challenges, there has been a significant shift in people's values and food consumption habits in recent years, leading to a growing inclination towards producing and purchasing more sustainable produce. Yet, more needs to be done if we are to protect the environment and provide enough food for generations to come.

At the heart of all Sophie Bionutrients’ products is their natural, neutral colour micro-algae flour made from their proprietary strain of microalgae that can be harvested in just three days.

Prepared in-house in a protected environment, Sophie's micro-algae has a whole-wheat flour color that can take on unlimited forms, textures or colors. Thus, from burger patties to alt milk, Sophie's Bionutrients micro-algae flour can be used to develop almost any food.

Furthermore, the micro-algae is self-sustaining and can be fed food waste such as spent grains, okara and molasses during the fermentation process - creating a sustainable, circular production method. Nurturing the micro-algae in a protected environment also allows for output ten times higher than conventional sunshine pond operations, reducing the cultivation costs usually associated with micro-algae farming.

Sophie's Bionutrients is on a mission to unleash the limitless possibilities of nature, restore our planet and eliminate food allergies by creating plant-based, protein-rich alternatives to meat and seafood using microalgae, the mother of all food and plant life. Sophie's Bionutrients is a Foodtech 500 startup and winner of the MassChallenge 2020.

Motif FoodWorks accesses transformative plant-based technologies

Food technology company Motif FoodWorks has gained exclusive access to two technologies with the potential to transform the consumer experience with plant-based meat and cheese alternatives.

Motif will have exclusive access to the technologies, which it said hold the promise to address two of the most significant challenges in plant-based foods: achieving melt and stretch in plant-based cheese alternatives, and healthier fat that marblizes in plant-based meat.

Through this expanded collaboration, Motif will have exclusive access to extrudable fat technology: oleogel technology that replicates animal fat, allowing for more authentic fat textures, such as marbling, in plant-based meats—acquired from Coasun.

And it also can access prolamin technology – licensed from the University of Guelph – which uses plant-based ingredients to improve the texture of plant-based cheese alternatives, allowing it to melt, bubble, and stretch like animal-derived dairy.

Motif’s move to acquire exclusive commercial rights to these technologies is the first development from the company’s ongoing collaboration with the University of Guelph in Canada, and Dr Alejandro Marangoni, founder of Coasun, Inc., and Tier I Canada Research Chair in Food, Health and Aging at Guelph. Stefan Baier, Motif’s head of food science, will continue to lead the ongoing collaboration, which kicked off in 2019.

“Today’s plant-based meat and cheese alternatives lack the pleasure associated with eating the real thing. We want to change that at Motif,”​ said Baier.

“Leveraging two exclusive technologies through our collaboration with Coasun and the University of Guelph, Motif will enable performance in plant-based foods previously unheard of — from plant-based cheese on a sandwich or pizza that actually stretches and melts to plant-based meat with marbleized fat just like a ribeye or a NY strip.”

“Collaborating with the entire R&D team at Motif FoodWorks has been a rewarding experience, and we’re excited to further explore the implications our advanced plant-based technology will have on the industry together,”​ said Marangoni.

Motif’s collaboration with Guelph and Marangoni comes on the heels of the company’s opening of a 10,600 sq. ft. office and lab space in the Boston Seaport and continued expansion of its leadership team.

In addition to partnering with third-party experts and researchers across the industry, Motif leverages some new scientific approaches — from precision fermentation to materials science — and applies them in new ways to generate individual ingredients, protein systems, whole formula solutions and products to move the plant-based food industry forward.

Milk Specialties Global begins lactoferrin production

Milk Specialties Global, an international whey and milk protein producer, is entering the lactoferrin market following a multi-million-dollar investment at the company’s Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, facility.

The project, which will be completed in May, is in support of ongoing customer partnerships and to align with their future supply chain needs.     

“The research around the health and immune benefits of lactoferrin is very compelling,”​ said David Lenzmeier, CEO of Milk Specialties Global.

“We recognize that consumers are becoming more health conscious and we make it a priority to stay in tune with our customers. We are simply excited to play a key role in the development of the next generation of health-focused products.”

Lactoferrin is a protein fraction occurring naturally in whey protein. Lactoferrin comprises only a tiny portion of the overall whey protein but Milk Specialties Global said it offers health benefits when concentrated. There is a growing body of research around the benefits of concentrated lactoferrin for all life stages including enhanced immune system support, promotion of “good” prebiotic bacteria for positive gut health and improved iron status.

Recent studies have brought lactoferrin’s antiviral properties to the forefront, demonstrating it can favorably influence human cell response to Covid-19 infection.

“Milk and its components are such an incredible canvas to create innovative products​,” said Tom Benson, executive vice president at Milk Specialties Global.

“As the world is becoming more health focused, we saw an opportunity to diversify our portfolio, deepen our commitment to customers and grow with them in the future.”

Lactoferrin is part of Milk Specialties’ NutriPRO family of products and comes in a wide range of concentration options – from 0.15% purity up to 95% purity. Lactoferrin can be used in a range of applications. Along with being a core ingredient in infant formula, it is suitable for health supplements, medical nutrition products, ready-to-mix drinks and functional foods.  


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