Israeli start-up Yofix Probiotics makes plant-based yoghurt alternatives from oats, lentils, sunflower and sesame seeds, and coconut.
The company says its range of ‘clean label’ finished products, which are currently sold in Israel under its ‘Only’ brand, are manufactured using a zero waste production method. The three SKU-strong line – made with berries; apple and cinnamon; and banana and maple – target vegan, flexitarian, and lactose-free consumers.
Having started out in The Kitchen FoodTech Hub accelerator programme in Israel, where it secured an initial Series A funding round of US$2m from the Strauss Group and Kraft Foods, among others, Yofix went on to win €100,000 in PepsiCo’s 2018 European Nutrition Greenhouse Programme.
Now, Yofix has closed an extended $2.5m (€2.95) Series A round from new investors, including Germany-based Müller Ventures, AG, France-headquartered Bel Group, and US-based LionTree Partners.
$2.5m to fuel expansion
According to Yofix, this latest funding round will help the start-up expand its current line of plant-based yoghurts into global markets. The $2.5m will also allow Yofix to ‘accelerate development’ of its tech platform, in order to grow its dairy alternative portfolio.
“This fresh influx opens the door to new possibilities,” said Yofix CEO Steve Grün. “Over the next few years, we will focus strategic efforts on expanding our line of dairy alternatives – which also includes oat yoghurt shakes – into the global market.
“The support will also boost the advancement of our efforts towards developing more clean-label plant-based offerings that extend into alternative cheeses, frozen desserts, and milk alternatives – the prospects are boundless.”
Indeed, when FoodNavigator caught up with Grün this time last year, he told us the start-up’s production process and ingredients allows for alternations in fluidity and density. “So [we can] make it more fluid, and instead of a spoonable product today, we can have a drinkable yoghurt tomorrow,” we were told.
Dairy giants support dairy-free
Two key dairy companies were listed among Yofix’s latest backers: the venture arm of German dairy company Müller, and the French Bel Group.
Müller’s portfolio includes subsidiary and independent brands such as Müller Quaker Dairy, Weihenstephan, Sachsenmilch, and Käserei Loose. The company also produces butter, UHT milk, lactose powder, and whey protein for private labels.
Bel Group’s branded cheese offerings include The Laughing Cow, Boursin, and Babybel.
For Bel Group, the investment comes as the company begins to explore non-dairy sector. “By taking part in the Yofix adventure, we are choosing to get closer to new players in the market that have key expertise and are developing the innovations of tomorrow,” said Plant-Based Acceleration Unit General Manager at Bel Group, Caroline Sorlin.
“Bel Group is entering the plant-based arena for the first time, so this gives concrete expression to our strategy of combining the best of dairy and plant-based products.”
FoodNavigator asked Grün whether Müller or Bel Group’s investment would provide them with access to Yofix’s plant-based IP, either now or in the future.
“Future cooperations will probably discussed later on this year,” the Yofix CEO told this publication.
“We cannot reveal further details at this point but obviously, leading dairy companies like Müller and Bel Group are looking into the dairy alternative market and seek for innovators like Yofix to deliver clean, tasty plant-based products.”