Fonterra and DSM introduce precision fermentation start-up for dairy-like proteins
25 Aug 2022 --- Fonterra and Royal DSM are launching a start-up seeking to commercialize fermentation-derived proteins with dairy-like properties in what is described as a “complementary nutrition partnership.”
The two companies have been collaborating since 2019 to build a comprehensive understanding of how to use precision fermentation science and technology to produce proteins similar to those found in dairy.
“This venture between Fonterra and Royal DSM will accelerate the development and commercialization of fermentation-derived ingredients with dairy-like properties,” Jonathan Boswell, program leader for complementary nutrition and new partnerships development, tells NutritionInsight.
“As consumer preferences continue to evolve, we see both dairy and other sources of nutrition playing a complementary role in consumer choice.”
The start-up does not yet have a name but will be determined ahead of incorporation, Boswell explains.
The start-up is the next step in Fonterra and DSM’s long-standing joint development relationship. To date, the work has created “valuable intellectual property for which Fonterra and DSM have filed patents.”
It will enable the acceleration of commercial product solutions utilizing this intellectual property while continuing to focus on further precision fermentation research and development.
“The new start-up is an exciting opportunity to combine DSM’s world-leading expertise in precision fermentation science and technology with Fonterra’s world-leading dairy science and technology,” says Komal Mistry-Mehta, chief innovation and brand officer at Fonterra.
“With fermentation-produced proteins having a wide array of potential applications for customers and consumers, this partnership aligns well with the co-op’s strategy to be a leader in dairy innovation and science.”
Evolving consumer preferences
Precision fermentation is a food technology where microorganisms can be harnessed to produce ingredients with similar properties to those found in dairy. There are already a number of products containing fermentation-derived analog whey in the market across several categories, including ice cream, beverages and cream cheese, Boswell adds.
“Dairy nutrition will always be our core strength, now and into the future, and there will continue to be strong demand for our sustainable, pasture-based dairy. At the same time, we are conscious that the preferences of some consumers are evolving, and we believe proteins produced with emerging technologies can work alongside our dairy products,” he underscores.
“With continued population growth, there will be a role for both dairy and other sources of nutrition in feeding the world’s population – they offer choice and they are complementary.”
Fonterra and DSM are also collaborating to reduce on-farm greenhouse gas emissions by exploring applications for DSM’s methane-inhibiting Bovaer technology in the New Zealand pasture-based farming system.
Precision fermentation technology is largely spearheading innovations across the space. TurtleTree is in the process of producing the “world’s first” environmentally sustainable bovine lactoferrin in 2023.
The technology is also used in infant formula, where nutrition start-up Helaina has been carrying out research on delivering the first humanized infant formula, containing human proteins that functionally perform in the same manner as breast milk.
Earlier this month, ADM partnered with Asia Sustainable Foods Platform in a joint venture company, ScaleUp Bio. Based in Singapore, the new firm will operate a new pilot laboratory for start-ups engaging in precision fermentation for food applications, helping them to propel innovation rapidly.
By Andria Kades
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