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Creating Casein Protein from Potatoes

Creating Casein Protein from Potatoes alternative proteins, business, Casein, Cultures, dairy, Dairy-based ingredients, enzymes, Flavours and colours, food safety, food tech, food waste, Innovation and NPD, molecular farming, Processing and Packaging, Proteins, Start-ups and disruptors, Sustainability, Transparency and supply chain, yeast Food and Beverage Business

Molecular farming has been utilized by the pharmaceutical sector since the 1980s, while in food production, the technology is gaining traction in recent years. The newest player in the molecular farming arena is Finally Foods, based in Israel, which recently emerged from stealth mode. Specializing in protein production in plants, Finally Foods is focusing on casein as its protein of choice, with potatoes as its plant host.

Finally Foods, co-founded by Dafna Gabbay and Dr. Basia J Vinocur, aims to offer sustainable and economically viable animal-based protein sources. By leveraging molecular farming technology, plants act as ‘bioreactors’ to produce animal proteins. Initially targeting casein, the main protein found in milk, Finally Foods has chosen potatoes as their preferred host for protein production due to its high yield and efficient extraction process.

In the world of molecular farming, genetic modification plays a vital role. Finally Foods modifies the genes of potato seeds’ DNA to produce casein. While the plant may be considered a genetically modified organism (GMO), the casein produced is not. The extraction process is crucial, with Finally Foods choosing potatoes due to established extraction methods that streamline the protein extraction process.

Collaborating with Evogene Ltd., a computational biology company, Finally Foods has access to GeneRator AI tech engine. This AI technology enables the start-up to plan, optimize, and test protein structures efficiently. Ofer Haviv, president and CEO of Evogene, emphasized the potential of molecular farming to revolutionize the food industry and promote healthier diets globally.

While precision fermentation is another method for producing casein alternatives, Finally Foods believes molecular farming is better suited for complex proteins like casein. By producing all four casein subtypes within the same plant, Finally Foods aims to cater to dairy manufacturers, primarily in cheese production.

Regulation hurdles and market approval considerations are essential for Finally Foods as they navigate the landscape of GM crop production. With an eye on sustainability, the start-up plans to utilize any excess parts of the potato plant for animal feed or biodegradable polymers.

Overall, Finally Foods is at the forefront of innovation in the food and beverage industry, utilizing cutting-edge technology to address the evolving demands of protein production while staying mindful of regulatory frameworks and sustainability practices.

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