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Fonterra/DSM Joint Venture Unveils Commercialization of Fermented Whey Protein for US Market

World 20.02.2024
Source: The DairyNews
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Vivici, the pioneering joint venture between Fonterra and DSM aimed at disrupting the emerging 'animal-free dairy' sector, has announced its ability to supply substantial quantities of whey protein from fermentation to the US market, just over a year after its inception.
Fonterra/DSM Joint Venture Unveils Commercialization of Fermented Whey Protein for US Market
The Netherlands-based startup, with self-affirmed GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status in the USA, attributes its swift progress to leveraging the extensive expertise of its founders in dairy proteins and large-scale biomanufacturing. CEO Stephan van Sint Fiet revealed that Vivici utilizes proprietary biotechnology employing yeast strains optimized for industrial use over decades.

Having successfully completed scale-up activities from the lab to commercial production, including a recent tech transfer to a 120m³ fermenter, Vivici is collaborating with partners in Europe and the US for further commercial manufacturing. Van Sint Fiet stated, "We are already at commercially viable, very competitive titers," and emphasized ongoing efforts for productivity improvement and the exploration of next-gen technologies for continuous fermentation.

The CEO highlighted the complexity of creating a dairy protein business through precision fermentation, emphasizing the need for robust capabilities across the entire value chain. Regarding pricing, van Sint Fiet asserted, "Vivici has a credible path to price parity with whey protein from traditional milk," citing identified cost levers systematically addressed by the company.

Vivici's market entry follows Nestlé's unveiling of a limited edition of Orgain protein powder ('Better Whey') featuring beta-lactoglobulin from fermentation, positioning it as a more sustainable and 'easier to digest' alternative to regular whey.

Van Sint Fiet acknowledged the growing interest in beta-lactoglobulin from fermentation for its potential to reduce carbon footprints. He emphasized the advantages it offers formulators over existing whey protein isolates, citing rapid absorption, a 29% BCAA, and 16% leucine profile suitable for fitness enthusiasts focused on muscle growth and recovery.

With nearly one million tons of whey protein sold annually, van Sint Fiet expressed excitement about the tremendous market potential. Vivici's understanding of its ingredient's performance in various food and beverage applications positions it to collaborate with customers on product development, from application formulation to launch marketing.

Vivici joins a select group of companies producing dairy proteins through microbial fermentation, tapping into the growing demand for sustainable alternatives in the dairy industry. The firm is poised to contribute to the evolving landscape alongside other innovators such as Perfect Day, New Culture, Change Foods, Imagindairy, Remilk, Formo, Those Vegan Cowboys, Bon Vivant, Eden Brew, Zero Cow Factory, Real Deal Milk, Better Dairy, and De Novo Foodlabs.
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