The proteins and prebiotics manufacturer announced the opening of its new sustainably built lactoferrin production facility in Veghel, in the Netherlands, yesterday (March 16), to help meet growing global demand in the early life and adult nutrition markets.
The facility increases the company’s total capacity from 20 metric tonnes to 80 metric tonnes per year.
The plant will process milk from its nearly 10,000 member farms into functional lactoferrin using a mild heat-treating process to create a product that is 95% pure as a minimum, with 'considerable' iron-binding properties.
The new plant will run on 100% green electricity, which is largely generated by FrieslandCampina’s member farms and certified under the EU’s Guarantee of Origin scheme. Water and salt residues produced during the manufacturing process will also be reused.
The facility will also adhere to the European Commission’s ‘Best Available Techniques’ (BAT) guidelines for equipment design, build, maintenance and operation to comply with the latest sustainability standards.
Demand for immunity
Multiple studies have demonstrated that lactoferrin, a protein naturally present in human milk and to a lesser extent in cow’s milk, can provide several health benefits, including supporting the body’s immune response and resilience to disease. These immune-supporting properties have made lactoferrin a popular ingredient in infant formula and this is also why it is increasingly sought after for specialist adult nutrition applications.
Growing interest in lactoferrin has also been fuelled by an interest in the ingredient’s potential applications beyond immunity, into bone health, gut health, weight management, skin health and showing high demand in the sports nutrition market.
As the volume of evidence demonstrating lactoferrin’s health benefits increases, and consumers increasingly seek out immune-supporting solutions, there is a surge in the development of new products.
"I’m looking forward to seeing how our customers tap into the holistic wellbeing trend by offering their consumers new products that combine multiple health benefits in one convenient application," Herman Ermens, president at FrieslandCampina Ingredients, said.
"By expanding our production capacity and implementing new technologies, we’re not just meeting the growing demand for lactoferrin, but doing so in a way that prioritises both quality and sustainability.”
Studies have found lactoferrin is antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic. Its ability to limit iron availability to microbes is one of its crucial amicrobial properties.
It inhibits the entry of viral particles into host cells, either by direct attachment to the viral particles or by blocking their cellular receptors. Some of the viruses that LF prevents from entering host cells include Herpes simplex virus , human papillomavirus, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and rotavirus.
These viruses typically utilize common molecules on the cell membrane to facilitate their invasion into cells, including HSPGs (Heparan sulfate proteoglycans).
HSPGs provide the first anchoring sites on the host cell surface, and help the virus make primary contact with these cells. HSPGs can be either membrane bound, or in secretory vesicles and in the extracellular matrix. It has been shown that LF is able to prevent the internalization of some viruses by binding to HSPGs.
Lactoferrin is also known to interfere with some of the receptors used by coronaviruses, causing research to hypothesise that it may contribute usefully to the prevention and treatment of coronavirus infections.