Alt dairy: TurtleTree debuts animal-free lactoferrin, New Culture scales-up mozzarella production, and more

By Teodora Lyubomirova

- Last updated on GMT

Pizza made with New Culture's dairy-free mozzarella, due to launch in pizzerias from 2024. Image: New Culture
Pizza made with New Culture's dairy-free mozzarella, due to launch in pizzerias from 2024. Image: New Culture

Related tags animal-free dairy animal-free Cheese Dairy Dairy alternatives plant-based Sustainability Protein lactoferrin Casein

We round-up some of the latest stories from the dairy alternatives market to cross our news desk.

TurtleTree​, a biotech company that leverages precision fermentation to create functional ingredients such as proteins, has debuted its precision fermentation-produced lactoferrin, LF+.

TurtleTree served up an LF+-fortified sorbet, plant-based milk, and sparkling water. Image: TurtleTree

Bovine lactoferrin is one of the most lucrative proteins sought by food and nutrition product manufacturers for use in supplements or infant formula. The protein is found in cow’s milk but obtaining it requires a special ion exchange resin to be used after the milk has been de-fatted and pasteurized. TurtleTree’s product meanwhile forgoes this process, as the company creates an animal-free protein from scratch via precision fermentation instead of extracting it from cow’s milk.

As previously reported by DairyReporter​, TurtleTree carried out an 18-month R&D project to come up with LF+. The US and Singapore-based firm said it plans to deliver 200,000kg of LF+ by 2025 by producing the ingredient both in-house at its precision fermentation plant, and through contract manufacturing.

On March 16, 2023, TurtleTree hosted a tasting event in San Francisco to show the protein to investors and food partners ahead of its commercial launch during Q4 2023. The company presented LF+-containing sorbet, plant-based milk, and sparkling water.

Fengru Lin, TurtleTree founder and CEO, commented: “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. 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.”

With lactoferrin retailing at between $700-$1,500 per kg – with 10,000 liters of milk required to obtain 1kg of product - the company says it ‘sees a clear path to profitability on a per unit basis within six to 12 months’.


James Jones, New Culture's VP of food science and product development

New Culture​ is also leveraging precision fermentation to produce animal-free dairy products. The company recently appointed a new VP of food science and product development in James Jones, PhD and is set to scale-up production of its dairy-free mozzarella.

This will be New Culture’s first product and the company is promising that the mozzarella will offer ‘the best of dairy cheese’ including taste, meltability and stretch, as well as the nutritional profile and protein content. The company is planning to carry out public testing in 2023 and launch its cheese in pizzerias in early 2024.

Meanwhile, Jones’ addition to the company has been dubbed ‘pivotal’. With more than 30 years of experience in the food industry, he will oversee all technical aspects of R&D and commercialization of the company’s first product, including product and package development and collaboration with biotechnical and business teams.

Also striving to get ahead in the crowded animal-free dairy market, Nobell Foods​ has attracted former Impossible Foods director Sergey Solomatin to assist in the company plans for plant-grown protein manufacture. Nobell Foods uses plants to grow casein, a protein found in dairy, in order to create animal-free cheese that has similar taste and functional properties to cow’s milk cheese.

Solomatin joined Nobell Foods in January as Joins Nobell Foods as VP of food science and product development.

Animal-free dairy - a lucrative outlook

According to Emergen Research, the animal-free dairy products market was worth $24.53bn in 2021, with more than 43% of the revenue concentrated in North America. Revenue from the segment is expected to grow by 10.4% CAGR to 2030, with North America projected to account for the largest revenue share during the forecast period, while market revenue in Asia Pacific is set to experience the fastest revenue CAGR. 

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