Pink Gold: Animal-free lactoferrin poised to fortify plant-based dairy products, boost sports performance
22 Mar 2023 --- TurtleTree has debuted the world’s first precision fermentation-produced lactoferrin dubbed LF+, a high-value bioactive milk protein that boosts immunity, regulates iron, and is good for digestive health.
Potential investors and stakeholders got an insight into LF+’s taste and functionality recently during a San Francisco-based session showcasing Turtle Tree’s new ingredient ahead of its launch later this year.
Speaking with FoodIngredientsFirst, Dr. Aletta Schnitzler, TurtleTree’s chief scientific officer, explains how LF+ is the world’s first precision fermentation-derived bovine recombinant lactoferrin and likely the first to be brought to market for the benefit of consumers.
“Lactoferrin is an essential bioactive component of cow’s milk that helps people thrive. Cow’s milk is absolutely jam-packed with lots of nutrients that help support early development, life, and growth. It also contains sophisticated proteins that have evolved to be multi-functional and support immunity and gut health and iron regulation,” says Dr. Schnitzler.
“Lactoferrin is one of these amazing proteins that have many different functions to support how we thrive and grow. The lactoferrin already on the market is extracted from cow’s milk and, being highly resource-intensive and costly to produce, is in very limited supply. By using precision fermentation, we can make lactoferrin at much higher volumes without ever involving an animal.”
The majority of lactoferrin on the market goes to supporting the infant formula market, and rightfully so. But by increasing the supply using precision fermentation, we are unlocking access to this valuable protein and working to expand the market into adult nutrition, including harnessing the bioactive protein to fortify the nutrition of plant-based milk.”
Nutrition & sustainability
Plant-based milk is nutritionally quite different than cow’s milk. It doesn’t naturally contain bioactive ingredients like lactoferrin, so recombinant proteins like LF+ can now enhance the nutritional benefits of plant-based foods and beverages.
LF+ is Turtle Tree’s first big product unveiling and the company is currently undergoing regulatory approval in the US and plans to launch LF+ to the market by the end of the year.
The food industry is a big contributor to significant environmental issues. A vast portion of agricultural land is used to raise livestock, yet only a fraction of society’s protein input comes from meat and dairy.
“So there’s a big disconnect between the resources the world puts into generating conventional meat and dairy and the benefits that it gets from it. Harnessing techniques like precision fermentation that use much less land, less energy, and less water, can help us significantly enhance food system sustainability,” Dr.Schnitzler highlights.
Health and business-boosting benefits
Lactoferrin is also otherwise known as “pink gold” due to its iron-rich pink hue, also naturally found in cow’s milk, but the low concentrations and current resource-intensive extraction processes limit access for many people.
“Given where the economy is, there are many benefits of focusing on ingredients vs. commodities. Not only does an ingredient like LF+ offer major health benefits, but on the business side, lactoferrin presently trades at around US$750 to US$1,500 per kilogram, which is much more than casein or whey, which trade under US$14 per kilogram,” Dr. Schnitzler continues.
“Compare that to a commodity product; the cost advantages are even starker. So just about out of the gate, we are going to have a healthy profit margin that will only go up as we continue to optimize our processes.”
“We’re presently going through our pilot runs for our FDA regulatory approval, which should be in place by the end of the year. Then next year, we’ll be ramping up into a significant commercial scale.”
LF+-powered food and beverages
Dr. Schnitzler explains that many different foods and drinks can be fortified with LF+, including those demonstrated at last week’s taste testing, such as LF+-fortified plant-based milk, sparkling water, etc. sorbet, and a mocktail.
“So in addition to fortifying plant-based dairy products, we see a lot of potential in sports nutrition, where lactoferrin's iron-regulating benefits could improve physical performance, aiding endurance, fatigue resistance, muscle strength, and energetic efficiency,” Dr. Schnitzler adds.
“LF+ is our first step and will be followed by a pipeline of products that harness the same technology base. The commercial success of LF+ will enable further development of our pipeline products.”
By Gaynor Selby
This feature is provided by NutritionInsight’s sister website, FoodIngredientsFirst.
To contact our editorial team please email us at email@example.com
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