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Formo and Brain Biotech are working collaboratively to bring bioidentical milk proteins to commercial viability. The move will see the two German natives bringing their expertise together, while using shared platforms for scaled fermentation capability. Formo has developed an animal-free milk protein that can be mass-produced using the Brain Engineered Cas platform. Global potential is confirmed thanks to Brain Biotech having facilities in the U.K. and U.S. as well as Germany.
Formo aims to disrupt the $700 billion global dairy sector with its environmental alternative. Using consumer demand for animal-free foods as a driving motivation, the company has successfully engineered milk proteins identical to those found in cow’s milk. These can be used in-house or sold to other manufacturers looking to develop vegan dairy products. They will taste the same as regular options, but harbour none of the ethical or climate-related concerns.
A perfect partnership
Formo and Brain Biotech are a good match, as both are experts within their sectors. “With the expertise of scientists in our team and with a partner in strain engineering, our products can be produced on an industrial scale and offered at competitive prices,” Dr. Britta Winterberg, co-founder and chief scientific officer at Formo said in a statement. “We are partnering with a company that shares our passion for biotechnology and the mission to foster sustainability: using precision fermentation, we can remove the cow from the dairy supply chain, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 91 to 97%,” she continued.
Last September, Formo closed a record-breaking $50 million Series A funding round. It was the largest to date within the European food-tech sphere. Mozzarella and ricotta developments were cited as top priorities following the cash injection, as was continued R&D. The partnership with Brain Biotech appears to come after the latter and ahead of full commercialisation.
Brain Biotech is a B2B company that operates within the bioactive products sector. It manufactures and distributes products such as live enzymes. Partnering with a precision fermentation outfit appears a natural fit. “Precision fermentation is an example of how genome editing technology can be used to generate a protein that is nature-identical but can be produced more sustainably than animal protein,” said Dr. Michael Krohn, head of R&D at Brain Biotech.
Formo’s recent findings
The partnership announcement comes moments after Formo released findings from a study it co-commissioned. Working with Mercy for Animals and Fordham University, the company discovered a generally positive consumer attitude to precision fermentation. A key takeaway, which has been internalised in company communications, is that consumers like the term “animal-free dairy” better than any other. It was found to have clarity, transparency and pleasing ethical connotations.
Formo rebranded in 2021. Originally called Legendairy Foods, it opted for a new moniker ahead of consumer-facing launches.
Precision fermentation taking over
Once a sci-fi-sounding future technology, fermentation, particularly precision fermentation, is everywhere. While Formo and its peers, including Perfect Day and Daisy Lab, continue to look at dairy alternatives, there is a lot happening elsewhere.
The Every Company is focussed on using precision fermentation to replace conventional egg protein. Having completed a Series C funding round in December last year, it sits atop $230 million in funding to date. A B2B ingredients producer, the company, formerly known as Clara Foods, is looking to scale its manufacturing of ClearEgg. Not an egg replacer in the traditional sense, the product is used to bolster beverages, adding stronger nutrition and imparting no flavour.
California’s MeliBio is a different enterprise altogether and caused a stir in 2021 with its bioidentical honey made without bees. Synthetic biology and precision fermentation are combined to create honey that is molecularly the same as the regular foodstuff and Green Queen expert Alessanda Franco couldn’t taste the difference in a tasting last year.
Lead image courtesy of Formo.