Israeli Biotech food colourant startup Phytolon, a developer of fermentation-based natural food colours, announced yesterday (Wednesday) that it has secured $14.5 million in funding, led by DSM Venturing, with participation from Cibus Fund, Ginkgo Bioworks, Trendlines Agrifood Fund, Arkin Holdings, Millennium Foodtech, Agriline, Stern Tech, and OpenValley/Yossi Ackerman.

I spy with my little eye something that is yeast

Current natural food colours are agriculture-dependent and mostly derived from fruit and vegetables. But there is a need for healthy, efficient, and sustainable natural food-colouring alternatives to the azo and synthetic dyes used in food and beverages. So, Phytolon set out on a mission to approach food colouring differently. They created a novel technology that produces betalain pigments by fermenting baker’s yeast. In doing so, they offer a wide range of natural colours from yellow to purple to be utilized for multiple food categories like alternative meat, dairy, frozen products, baked goods, confectionery, and snacks. Moreover, they can achieve this at a competitive cost-in-use.

Phytolon use-cases.

In a conversation with Geektime, Halim Jubran, one of Phytolon’s co-founders and its CEO, explained to us what makes Phytolon stand out from its competitors. “The key to our success is that we have a range of colours that our competitors can't match, and we provide them at a more feasible price. That, coupled with the fact that we are in complete compliance with the regulatory requirements the industry has puts us at the top, with respect to market size and opportunity, and speed to launch of our products. Moreover, since our product development was originally designed according to the different processing conditions of the different food categories and regions, we can reach different countries that have different requirements and conditions; we offer various formulations, based on our basic IP and basic betalain pigments, for various processes suitable for various markets.” Another point he touched upon was how with Phytolon’s fermentation-based technology they can provide natural colours in their pure form making it free of agricultural material, pesticides, insect extracts, or any plant allergens that can be present. In addition, upon production, the yeast is separated from the colours, and therefore no allergy concerns are expected, so customers can breathe easy and not worry about any sort of allergic reaction.

With the new capital, Phytolon plans to accelerate and progress the commercialization of its proprietary palette of sustainable food colours. As it has already reached a semi-industrial production scale, the company has prepared the ground for regulatory clearances in the U.S. and Europe, to ensure this commercialization expansion goes smoothly.

Phytolon's team.

Phytolon was founded in 2018 by Tal Zeltzer (CTO), Guy Polturak (Scientific Consultant) and Halim Jibran (CEO). They are located in Yoken’am Illit, Israel and have 21 employees. To date, they have raised $21 million.