TurtleTree Debuts Its Fermentation-Derived Animal-Free ‘Pink Gold’ Lactoferrin

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TurtleTree, a global leader in animal-free functional dairy proteins, has announced the launch of the world’s first precision fermentation-derived lactoferrin.

Known as “pink gold” for its high value and iron-rich pink hue, Singapore-based TurtleTree debuted the fermented animal-free LF+ product at an exclusive tasting event in San Francisco this week.

LF+ is considered a highly prized bioactive milk protein and one of the most powerful components found in cow’s milk, with functional benefits for immunity, iron regulation, and digestive health.

‘Harnessing the power of precision fermentation’

“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,” TurtleTree Founder and CEO Fengru Lin, said in a statement. “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.” 

TurtleTree's lactoferrin
TurtleTree’s lactoferrin in application | Courtesy

TurtleTree says its breakthrough provides an affordable source of lactoferrin; conventional sources can retail at between $700 to $1,500 USD per kilogram.

While lactoferrin is in use in supplements and infant formulas, supply scarcity means that demand cannot be met for other fertile segments like sports nutrition, where the protein’s iron-regulating benefits can improve physical performance.

TurtleTree’s development is also removing high methane-emitting cows from the supply chain. Animal agriculture represents more than 15 percent of anthropogenic emissions, fueling the climate crisis.

‘Transforming the food system’

“As one of TurtleTree’s early investors, KBW Ventures recognized that transforming the food system requires studied innovation; a commitment to the science, and both ingenuity and integrity to see it through,” said KBW Ventures Founder and CEO Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed.

“Transforming the food system as a mission is the business of changemakers, and I am proud that we could play a role in fueling the world’s future in food. TurtleTree’s world first, the showcase of LF+, is what technology can do when mobilized for good,” he said.

TurtleTree raised $30 million in a 2021 Series A funding round led by Verso Capital after it first announced the lactoferrin product was in the works in June 2020.

Prince Khaled Bin Alwaleed was an early investor in TurtleTree | Courtesy

“We are incredibly touched by the degree of faith all our investors have placed in TurtleTree and our unique vision of food,” Lin said at the time. “The Series A funds will allow us to scale up our processes and come a huge step closer to creating a new era of sustainable nutrition.”

The company sees a clear path to profitability on a per unit basis within six to 12 months after commercial launch, which is anticipated for Q4 2023.

Good Food Institute co-founder and president Bruce Friedrich called the development “another innovative breakthrough” that he says gives consumers more sustainable food choices and creates a more sustainable food system.

“Consumers deserve nutritious, affordable options that are produced in efficient, better-for-the-planet ways,” Friedrich said. “With more private sector and public sector support, precision fermentation is one of the brilliant alternative protein technologies that can open up a world of possibilities on this front.”


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