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Israel's Remilk joins the quest to make animal-free milk

Israeli startup Remilk is the latest company to raise over one hundred million dollars to bring animal-free milk products to consumers.

The company just received $120 million in funding from investors which included a bevy of investors who back new food technology companies, according to a report in The Times of Israel.

Businesses focused on developing plant-based or genetically engineered alternatives to traditional animal products continue to be a big draw for investment dollars. Reaching consumers with new products has never been easier (from a logistics standpoint) even as these startups face growing challenges cutting through the noise of exceptionally, incredibly crowded markets.

In the alternative milk and dairy space alone there are massively funded competitors like Perfect Day, Change Foods, New Culture, Formo Foods, and Nobell Foods (a FootPrint Coalition investment) that all have a spin on making dairy proteins to swap in for animal products.

According to the Israeli paper, the new investment gives Remilk a $500 million valuation and launches it into the big leagues of companies pursuing a real milk alternative that won't come from a cow.

Founded by Aviv Wolff and Ori Cohavi, Rehovot-based Remilk makes milk proteins by genetically modifying microbes to express the proteins. That protein is then dried into a powder.

“We’re making dairy products that are identical to cow-milk products, with the same taste, texture, stretchiness, meltiness, with no cholesterol and no lactose,” Wolff told The Times of Israel. “We’ve basically ported the whole mechanism of producing milk into a single-cell microbe. We don’t need the ‘rest of the cow,’ and we surely don’t need to spend resources in the process of creating a 900-kilogram animal.”

Like other companies focused on replacing dairy fields with petrie dishes, Remilk claims that its process is 100 times more efficient from a land use perspective, uses far less feedstock and ten times less water than dairy cow husbandry.

While the Israeli company may not be that differentiated from the competition from a product perspective, not many other dairy companies can boast having a former combat commander from the IDF special forces on their executive teams.

That would be Wolff, whose previous experience was working as the chief operating officer for an Israeli tech company. The milk expertise comes from his partner, Cohavi. Who worked for years leading research and development at biotech firms after graduating from the Weizmann Institute of Science with a doctorate in protein biochemistry.

The crowd racing to capture a piece of the biotech market is driven by the multi-billion prize for the ones who can manage to make it across the finish line. Some estimates put the size of the market for dairy alternatives at $54 billion by 2028.

It also stands to make a significant dent in two areas that are vital for climate change mitigation -- the reduction of deforestation across the globe and cutting reliance on dairy cows which produce methane gas (a huge contributor to global climate change).

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