De Novo Dairy, the first precision fermentation company in Africa, is working on a personalized nutritional offer
The start-up, based in Cape Town, South Africa, recently secured a seed investment from UM6P Ventures that will allow it to further accelerate the release of its first-ever product. The food tech company has also received backing from Big Idea Ventures, Kale United, Food Ventures, and CULT Cult Science Corp, among others.
De Novo Dairy is working on a personalized nutritional product containing cultured dairy proteins expressed by the company’s uniquely engineered yeast strain. Although there is no set launch date yet, the company hopes to release it in 2023.
“There are many ways to skin the cat in terms of precision fermentation,”De Novo Dairy co-founder and CEO Jean Louwrens told DairyReporter. “The way we produce the protein is very novel. We are also one of the few companies in the world working on these specific proteins. A lot of [competitor companies] are working on whey and casein which are more cost effective proteins, but ours are more bioactive and a bit more expensive.
“As far as the actual ingredients go, it’s a pretty straightforward process,” he added“but most of our intellectual property and patents are focused on actual biotechnology and host modification.”
De Novo Dairy’s main focus is currently lactoferrin – a multifunctional immune-boosting and iron-binding glycoprotein – “but we are building a platform from which we can continue to produce other dairy-related proteins in the future,”Louwrens explained.
The company’s first product will be launched next year in the still emerging African market, where De Novo Dairy hopes to position itself as a key player. According to Louwrens, although there are other nutrition and gut health companies operating in Africa, there is no major player to compete with, making it a suitable launch pad for the start-up. . The lower cost of R&D in South Africa – which is said to be up to six times cheaper than in the United States and Europe – brings additional advantages from a cost perspective.
Despite their current focus on their home market, De Novo Dairy has “very global aspirations” and hopes to expand into the US – with UM6P Ventures set to help launch a subsidiary.
But first, the food tech company’s first offering has to impress manufacturers. “The primary use case for the capital we’ve raised will be to launch our first product, continue to do R&D, and then grow the team so we can really focus on our core competencies and grow the business in this way,said Louwrens. “We have good experience working with manufacturers and packaging producers from a previous business we ran, so we have quite a good network when it comes to working with our strategic partners in the region. “
Speaking about the product concept being developed, Louwrens concluded: “It is a product that aims to improve the intestinal health and the immune system of those who consume it. Through our website, we will be able to create a personalized and personalized product for people, [tailoring that to their lifestyles]to make sure they have the nutrients they need.
The global personalized nutrition market is becoming increasingly lucrative as more and more health-conscious consumers seek targeted nutritional advice and services to help them make lasting dietary change. The sector is expected to more than double in value this decade, with its valuation of over US$9 billion in 2021 expected to reach over US$20 billion by 2029 according to Data Bridge Market Research.
Emerging and established players in the food industry, including Nestle and Royal DSM, are vying for market share.