Singaporean biotech TurtleTree, specializing in cell-based milk, today debuts what it claims is the world’s first precision fermentation-produced animal-free lactoferrin, named LF+, at an event in San Francisco before its Q4 2023 market entry.
“…we are envisioning a better food future where more people than ever before can improve their personal nutrition sustainably.”
Lactoferrin, known as “pink gold” because of its high value and iron-rich pink hue, is a bioactive milk protein and one of the most powerful ingredients in cow’s milk. It has excellent functional benefits for immunity, iron regulation, and digestive health, explains TurtleTree.
“The development and debut of this highly valuable animal-free dairy protein is yet another innovative breakthrough that creates more sustainable food choices and a more sustainable food system,” Good Food Institute president Bruce Friedrich commented.
Since it is present in cow’s milk at low concentrations, its extraction process is resource-intensive, limiting its use as a supplement due to high prices. Supply scarcity prevents meeting demand for lactoferrin in sports nutrition and other fertile segments.
Lactoferrin retails between $700 to $1,500 per kilogram; 50 cows producing a week’s worth of milk are required to obtain just 1 kg of purified lactoferrin.
While lactoferrin is already used in supplements and infant formulas, other products, such as plant-based dairy and other everyday foods, could benefit from the protein’s iron-regulating benefits: improve physical performance, aiding endurance, fatigue resistance, muscle strength, and energetic efficiency.
TurtleTree Founder and CEO Fengru Lin, said: “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.”
Harnessing precision fermentation
TurtleTree produces its proteins by leveraging precision fermentation, removing the “high methane-emitting cows” from the lactoferrin supply chain, unlocking an abundant, affordable, and sustainable alternative to the “pink gold.”
According to the biotech, producing an animal-free alternative to lactoferrin will bridge the gap between conventional and plant-based food products, which have been criticized for not providing sufficient nutrition.
In 2021, TurtleTree raised $30 million to scale up the production of cell-based human milk ingredients, saying it was ready to produce lactoferrin. The company was working on its recently opened R&D facility in Sacramento in October, developing its cell-based technology further.
“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,” Lin added.