Phyx44 is well on its way to disrupting India’s dairy sector with its $1.2 million seed funding for its precision fermentation technology.
The Bangalore-based Phyx44 says it’s using precision fermentation to create whey and casein proteins as well as fatty acids found in dairy, just without the lactose or the environmental footprint of conventional dairy. The funding comes from Better Bite Ventures, Ahimsa VC, PeerCapital, Spectrum Impact, Rohit Gulati (MD & Partner at Boston Consulting Group), Sandhya Sriram (CEO, Shiok Meats), Big Idea Ventures, and Humane Society International, among others.
Full-stack precision fermentation dairy
The seed funding will allow Phyx44 to accelerate its research and development, expand its team, and work on co-developing products for its key partners. While based in India, Phyx44 is eyeing the global market potential.
“As a vegan for over 9 years, I’ve always struggled to find good alternatives to curd (yogurt), ice cream and paneer”, Bharath Bakaraju, founder of Phyx44, said in a statement. Bakaraju holds an MS in Industrial BioChemistry from IIT Kharagpur and an MBA from IIM Lucknow.
“Dairy has a huge environmental cost. Plus, animal welfare is an area of deep concern. That is why I was excited when I saw what we could do with precision fermentation.”, Bakaraju added.
He says the biggest inconvenience for consumers who want to replace dairy for ethical or environmental reasons is the lack of viable alternatives that look and taste like conventional dairy.
India and Asia market opportunities
Phyx44 is jumping into a sea of other precision fermentation producers, chiefly the U.S.-based Perfect Day. But India and Asia are largely undeveloped markets with increased demand.
“The intersection of India being an agrarian economy, the largest producer & consumer of dairy & a huge pharma producer provides a massive opportunity for Phyx44 to serve global demand for dairy ingredients & products, sustainably. The team’s technical prowess is reflected by how swiftly they have scaled to a 100L capacity”, said Jinesh Shah, Chief Investment Officer at Ahima VC.
“This sunrise sector has a key role to play in meeting the Government of India’s ambitious target of growing our bioeconomy to USD 300 billion by 2030,” Nicole Rocque, Senior Innovation Specialist at the Good Food Institute India said.
“India is quickly becoming the preferred destination for both innovation and manufacturing of smart protein, and will play a key role in the development of bio-enabled solutions globally. Startups like Phyx44 have the potential to accelerate new product innovation and lay down the path toward cost reduction, establishing a model for growth of this technology in the developing world.”
Phyx44 is in a unique position as a full-stack player working with whey, casein, and an underdeveloped category: fats. “What we do not see get enough attention is the fats. We’re one of the very few companies working on key fat components alongside key dairy proteins because we believe this will go a long way in our ability to create a superior product”, Bharath said.
The company is already eyeing a number of applications, including ice cream, cheese, baked goods, and more. It’s expecting to launch its first products in Singapore and India in 2024.
Lead image courtesy Phyx44.
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