Israeli agrotech startup Pigmentum, which develops genetic based technology to enhance natural flavor and color in plants, announced that it has secured a $1 million investment from Israeli Foodtech incubator FreshStart. According to FreshStart, the agrotech company also received an invitation to join the incubator program that is backed by Israeli food industry giants, Tnuva and Tempo, as well as VC funders, OurCrowd and Finistere Ventures.

Ronny Barak, CEO of FreshStart, said: “Pigmentum is a welcome reinforcement to the FreshStart incubator. We look forward to helping it start a healthier and more ecological transformation of the global food ingredients market as well as establish itself as a high-quality employer in northern Israel, which is an integral part of FreshStart’s vision.”  

External signal activates genetic magic

Pigmentum’s solution enables crossbreeding and assimilation of a wide variety of plant genomes to create unique seeds. According to the company, once triggered by an external signal,  plants grown from the seeds produce a concentration of pigment or flavor molecules 10-15 times more potent than those developed from other plant sources, transforming each plant into a small factory of natural flavor and aroma compounds.

The Israeli startup’s goal is to provide a technological solution for the fast growing $7 billion natural pigment, aroma, and flavor market, which is surprisingly estimated at almost half of the global food coloring, flavoring, and aroma market value. Pigmentum’s technology aims to reduce the costs of natural ingredients in comparison to the less favorable synthetic offerings. The reason for this significant reduction cost is led by requirements of lower plant yield to produce natural substances, demanding less land, irrigation, and other cultivation expenses. Essentially, empowering the strong plants to produce better results.

Pigmentum’s dedicated activation substance triggers the requested genetic component of the pigment or aroma molecule, which allows the plant to mature before exposing it to the activation substance via spraying or irrigation. As a result, the desired molecules can be produced at a much higher rate and at scale.  Pigmentum’s solution targets the ingredient makers and impacts the entire value chain, including the cultivation of plants from which the substances are produced. The company aims to accelerate the global food industry’s transition to natural flavoring and coloring.

Pigmentum plant

Tal Lutzky, CEO of Pigmentum, said: “We chose to join FreshStart because of the technological and business support it offers from key players in the local and global food and finance industries. We look forward to completing our genetic platform and advancing business partnerships to take the solution to the market.”

Pigmentum was founded  in 2018 by agronomists CEO Tal Lutzky and COO Amir Tiroler, and globally renowned genetic engineer Prof. Alexander Vainstein. Pigmentum is an alumnus of FaculTech, the Students’ Entrepreneurship Club of the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment.