Israel’s Remilk secures regulatory nod for sale of cow-free dairy in Canada

The okay by Canada’s health watchdog marks the fourth regulatory approval for the use of the startup’s animal-free protein in vegan dairy products like cheese, yogurt and ice cream

Sharon Wrobel is a tech reporter for The Times of Israel.

Scientists at Israeli food tech startup Remilk present dairy products made with its cow-free milk protein. (Courtesy)
Scientists at Israeli food tech startup Remilk present dairy products made with its cow-free milk protein. (Courtesy)

Israeli food tech startup Remilk, a developer of cultured milk and dairy, was granted regulatory approval for the use of its cow-free milk protein in dairy products in Canada.

The Israeli startup said late on Monday that it has attained a so-called “letter of no objection” from Health Canada that its animal-free whey protein can be used in a variety of food products and is safe for consumption. The clearance marks the fourth country where Remilk has won regulatory approval to produce and sell cow-free milk products after being granted similar permits from health authorities in Israel, Singapore and the United States.

Founded in 2019, the Ness Ziona-based startup produces milk proteins via a yeast-based fermentation process that renders them “chemically identical” to those present in cow-produced milk and dairy products. The startup claims that the result is 100 percent similar to “real” milk. It recreates the milk proteins by taking the genes that encode them and inserting them into a single-cell microbe, which they manipulated genetically to express the protein. The product is then dried into a powder.

The regulatory clearance opens the door for Remilk’s protein to be used in a variety of food products in Canada, including milk, ice cream, yogurt and cream cheese, that are free of lactose, cholesterol, antibiotics and growth hormones, the startup said.

“Canada is an important market for us, and we are proud to be the first to enter,” said Remilk co-founder and CEO Aviv Wolff. “We are now ready to partner with leading food companies in the country and offer consumers a whole new experience of guilt-free indulgence.”

Remilk operates in the dairy alternatives market, which is expected to grow from about $26 billion in 2022 to $66.9 billion by 2030, according to a report by research firm Research and Markets. It is separate from the plant-based milk sector, where beverages are made from soy, almond, coconut, oats, hemp and other non-animal materials.

Israeli startup Remilk uses a yeast-based fermentation process to produce animal-free milk proteins that, the company says, are indistinguishable in taste and function from cow milk proteins, but free of lactose, cholesterol and growth hormones. (Remilk)

“Canada’s is the fourth separate health administration to conduct thorough examinations of our protein and each, individually, found it to be equivalent to its traditional counterpart,” said Remilk CTO Dr. Ori Cohavi. “Regulatory approvals serve to not only open new markets for the sale of our proteins but, also, as reassurance for both industry and consumers that our protein is the same milk protein they have been consuming and enjoying for decades.”

There are a number of companies operating in the dairy alternative space for milk proteins using precision fermentation technology, such as Israeli startup Imagindairy which says its technology recreates nature-identical, animal-free versions of whey and casein proteins that can be used to produce dairy duplicates. Another one is Pigmentum, which has developed a gene-modified plant-based technology to create milk proteins from lettuce that can be used to make cheese.

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