Better Dairy, a London-based startup using fermentation technology to produce molecularly identical dairy proteins, has raised £1.6 million (US$2.17 million) in funding. The firm says that the capital will be used to fuel its research and development, with the goal to bring its first products to market by early 2022.
The British startup’s US$2.17 million seed funding round was led by Hong Kong-based Happiness Capital, with participation from leading alternative protein investors including CPT Capital, Stray Dog Capital and Veg Capital. Several undisclosed angel investors also contributed to the seed round.
Better Dairy says that the investment will be used to accelerate its current R&D efforts, with the view to commercialise its first molecularly identical dairy products by as soon as 2022. Founded by Imperial College London alumni Jevan Nagarajah and Dr. Christopher Reynolds last year at the Entrepreneur First programme, the startup takes aim at the unsustainable dairy supply chain, which comes with a huge carbon and water footprint.
Green Queen Media featured the startup earlier this year in a roundup of leading fermentation alternative dairy players who are using yeast fermentation and synthetic biology to “brew” animal-free milk, cheeses, yogurt and ice creams that consumers love without a single cow, and in an efficient way that doesn’t deplete the planet’s resources. While the technology has been around for a long time, used in the production process for insulin and enzymes like rennet, food tech startups are applying it to create sustainable protein solutions.
While our intention was initially to enable a wave of better dairy products, our ambitions have grown to target the disruption of the entire dairy supply chain across dairy and non-dairy categories.Jevan Nagarajah, Co-Founder & CEO, Better Dairy
Co-founder and CEO Nagarajah says that Better Dairy also targets health and nutrition, in addition to environmental and animal welfare concerns. Speaking to TechCrunch about its seed found, Nagarajah explained: “Dairy products themselves contain several unwanted pollutants such as growth hormones and antibiotics by virtue of the process of milking mothering cows and are thus not the most suitable for human consumption.”
Better Dairy has already produced its first dairy protein samples, which has given the startup a “clear path to get us to commercially viable products,” according to Nagarajah. They will focus on developing whey and casein – the main dairy proteins – before extending their production to target more animal-based fats in the future, all made to be molecularly identical to the real thing but produced using fermentation technology.
“While our intention was initially to enable a wave of better dairy products, our ambitions have grown to target the disruption of the entire dairy supply chain across dairy and non-dairy categories. Our vision is to create a world where humans are vegan without even realising it,” the CEO told TechCrunch.
Our vision is to create a world where humans are vegan without even realising it.Jevan Nagarajah, Co-Founder & CEO, Better Dairy
As coronavirus-related supply chain disruptions continue to add further pressure to the global dairy industry, which has already been for years under pressure from changing consumer tastes due to sustainability concerns, investment has been pouring into the alternative dairy sector – especially to startups using fermentation.
The latest is Israeli food tech Remilk, who bagged a US$11.3 Series A round to scale its microbial fermentation dairy products, which came after U.S.-Australian startup Change Foods, the only precision fermentation food tech with a base in Asia-Pacific, closed an oversubscribed US$875,000 pre-seed round to speed up the development of its animal-free cheese prototypes.
Perhaps the most high-profile funding news is Perfect Day’s record-breaking US$300 million Series C, which propelled the startup to launch its new ice cream brand made with its dairy proteins developed using precision fermentation and add Disney chairman Robert Iger to its board.
Lead image of founders JEVAN NAGARAJAH (left) and CHRISTOPHER REYNOLDS courtesy of Better Dairy via Entrepreneur First.