Just six months after closing its initial seed round in November 2021 for $13m, alt dairy maker Imagindairy has announced an additional $15m in funding. This brings the total raised to $28m.
The funding was led by Target Global, marking the VC’s first investment in food tech. “Animal-free dairy has the potential to become one of the most environmentally impactful industries on the planet,” noted Target Global.
“We strongly believe that the Imagindairy team’s vast experience in manufacturing at scale, paired with the cutting-edge technology they have built, will be transformational for this space.”
Existing investors also participated in the funding round, including Strauss Group, Emerald Technology Ventures, Green Circle Foodtech Ventures, Collaborative Fund, New Climate Ventures, and FoodSparks by PeakBridge.
Making whey proteins from microbes
Imagindairy is on a mission to develop ‘guilt-free’ dairy. The food tech company, based in Tel Aviv, Israel, has developed technology that creates animal-free milk proteins from microorganisms, rather than cows.
The technology is founded on precision fermentation, which enables the programming of microorganisms to produce complex organic molecules, such as proteins.
Imagindairy intends to develop and produce the entire range of milk proteins, including casein proteins alpha 1, alpha 2, beta, and kappa. But at this stage, the business is focusing on whey proteins.
Imagindairy’s precision fermentation-derived dairy proteins are non-GMO, cholesterol-free, and, according to the start-up, possess the same flavour, texture, functionality, and nutritional value as their conventional counterparts.
According to the start-up, its proprietary platform ‘significantly amplifies’ protein expression, enabling ‘exceptionally cost-effective’ production of animal-free milk protein. This, claims Imagindairy, overcomes one of the biggest hurdles in alt dairy protein production, allowing brands to sell dairy analogues at ‘consumer-friendly’ prices.
How will Imagindairy use the money?
Imagindairy will put the money towards its R&D efforts, while also being used to attract additional talent to its ‘expanding’ workforce.
“This extremely successful seed round reflects a strong vote of confidence in Imagindairy and its vision to lead the animal-free dairy industry,” said Eyal Afergan, co-founder and CEO of Imagindairy.
“This substantial injection of capital will serve to advance our ability to make true dairy alternative products a day-to-day reality.”
The start-up says it is in dialogue with ‘major’ dairy food producers looking to diversify their product portfolios, and plans to first target commercialisation in the US.
This, Afergan told FoodNavigator, is for several reasons, including the country’s market size and growth rate, and its consumers’ acceptance of new products.
Further, “American regulation is highly advanced and a great many authorities are following it,” we were told.
The second major market for Imagindairy is Europe, the CEO revealed. “There is a growing demand for non-dairy products that are lactose-free, tasty, and good for the planet.”