TurtleTree, a Singapore-based biotech company pioneering in sustainable nutrition, has recently won the first-ever self-affirmed generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status for its complex functional protein – precision fermentation-derived lactoferrin, LF+.
LF+ is a highly sought-after ingredient with powerful benefits for immunity, iron regulation, and gut health. This development confirms that LF+ is safe to be used in food and beverages and paves the way for TurtleTree to be commercialized in the US, targeting supply gaps in the existing lactoferrin market, as well as adding functionality to the US$35 billion plant-based milk market and a broad range of adult nutrition products.
Currently retailing between US$750 – US$1,500 per kg, the demand for lactoferrin heavily outweighs the supply. It takes at least 10,000 liters of milk to extract just 1kg of purified lactoferrin. The supply is limited and is used currently only in selected food and beverages such as infant formula, leaving little for other applications.
With LF+, TurtleTree has tackled the challenge of scaling the production of lactoferrin via precision fermentation, enabling it to supplement the global shortage of lactoferrin as well as meet the demand of new consumers who were previously unable to access the protein because of high costs and supply issues. This includes fortifying adult nutrition products such as protein powders, functional beverages, meal replacement alternatives for the elderly, and multivitamins, as well as supplementing plant-based dairy products to bridge the functional gap with traditional dairy milk.
Precision fermentation, where microbes are programmed to produce specific functional ingredients, is a far more sustainable to producing lactoferrin. By eliminating high methane-emitting cows from the lactoferrin supply chain, TurtleTree can potentially reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 91%.
LF+ is slated for commercial launch in the US in 4th quarter 2023. TurtleTree’s customers have indicated interest in purchasing US$500 million worth of LF+ across the next 5 years.
TurtleTree Director of Clinical and Scientific Affairs, Vanessa Castagna said, “After extensive internal testing and rigorous evaluation by global experts in the field, our animal-free lactoferrin has been affirmed ready for market entry. Securing self-GRAS marks a pivotal step, attesting to the safety and efficacy of our advanced technology and the dedication of our team. This milestone not only validates our commitment to innovation but also opens doors to exciting partnerships with US food and beverage companies.”