Israeli plant-based yogurt maker Yofix has raised a $2 million Series A round led by Strauss Health, an Israeli food and beverage manufacturer. Individual investors from the US, UK, and Israel also participated in the round.
Yofix makes a seed and lentil-based yogurt product joining the other nondairy yogurts on offer in stores today such as soy, flax, almond, and coconut. The company claims to use traditional fermenting techniques on new ingredients, making it the first grain, seed, and lentil-based yogurt on the market.
Yofix purports to have attained a dairy-like texture without the stabilizers and thickeners common in most non-dairy yogurts such as guar gum, locust bean gum, and carrageenan. The company uses a blend of oats, lentils, sunflower seeds, coconut, sesame seeds and has created three flavors of yogurt with no added sugars while eliminating the waste common in plant-based dairy alternatives such as soy milk.
In fact, the waste from soy milk production has inspired food waste recovery startup Renewal Mill to create industrial ingredients solely from the pulp or byproduct of soy milk manufacturing, in which the beans are soaked, pulverized and strained and the solids discarded.
“Yofix technology uses all the grains in the emulsion without filtering out anything, reducing the ecological footprint,” said CEO Ronen Lavee.
Yofix’s “no-waste” process has nutritional benefits as well, according to Lavee, who says his “proprietary technology allows the product to contain pre and probiotics while maintaining its rich nutritional values.”
A Global Market Insights study from 2016 predicts that the market size for probiotic products in 2015 was $36.6 billion with probiotics foods like yogurt making up $30 billion of the total. The study predicts that the entire category will reach $64.6 billion by 2023.
According to Kavee, the company will use the funds to build a production facility in Israel and increase distribution within the country with future plans for international expansion.
Non-dairy versions of traditional dairy products are having a bit of trouble in the US at present. The Dairy Pride Act, proposed by representatives from major cheese-producing states Vermont and Wisconsin in January, would require the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to restrict milk, yogurt and cheese alternatives that do not contain milk from “hooved mammals” from using the term dairy or milk on their labels.
In the European Union, regulations against using “milk, butter, cheese cream and yogurt,” have been on the books since 2013 and were recently enforced in a case before the European Court of Justice regarding soy-based butter and cheese substitutes. Similar laws have not been introduced in Israel.
Yofix is one of several startups incubated in The Kitchen Hub, Strauss Group’s FoodTech incubator, supported by the Israeli Innovation Authority. Starting with a prototype, Yofix received seed funding, mentoring and support at The Kitchen. The Kitchen has invested in seven companies in different areas along the food supply chain.
Northern California-based Kite Hill, another plant-based dairy alternative startup focused on cheese, raised $18 million in a Series B round led by 301 INC, General Mills’ new business development and venturing unit, and CAVU Venture Partners, a consumer growth equity firm in June of 2016.