Israel’s Day 8 Secures Funds for Leaf Protein-Based Ingredient Extracted from Upcycled Crops

Israeli startup Day 8 has secured $750,000 pre-seed funding from The Kitchen FoodTech Hub to introduce a functional ingredient made from the leaf protein Rubisco for plant-based dairy, meat, and other food applications.

The young startup was founded last year by Daniel Rejzner (CEO) and a former executive at Solbar (a leading soy manufacturer) Dana Marom (CTO) to unlock the future of delicious plant-based foods with earth’s most abundant and nutritious protein, Rubisco. All green leaves, from spinach to kale to the small Lemna (duckweed), contain small quantities of Rubisco.

Day 8 claims that it has developed a unique extraction method to produce a flavorless white powder that contains the best nutritional qualities of Rubisco and its functional capabilities, such as emulsifying, foaming, and gelling, which surpass the capabilities of soy.

Cost-effective and scalable

Day 8 says its approach to the production process is cost-effective and scalable because it utilizes existing crop leaves as raw material. This means it has a significant biomass to extract the small amount of proteins from the leaves without investing in farming activities while upcycling by-products from already existing crops. 

“There are 2.7 trillion tons of discarded leaves that can be upcycled annually. This vast resource has the potential to produce protein equivalent to more than 10 times the global soy protein consumption without requiring any incremental land, much less water, or energy,” says Day 8.

© Day 8

A valuable nutritional profile

Rubisco, the “most abundant protein” is gaining recognition for its potential as a sustainable and valuable food protein source. 

According to research, Rubisco meets the essential amino acid profile requirements of the FAO while offering digestibility, low allergenicity, and excellent functional properties. 

Its qualities are comparable to animal proteins and superior to many other plant proteins. Its functional features include its ability to form gels, act as emulsifiers, create stable foams in foods, and potentially form bioactive peptides with health benefits. 

Extraction challenges

However, challenges in efficiently extracting and separating Rubisco from plant material have limited its use as a global food source. 

The complexity of extraction and purification processes requires large amounts of biomass to be processed quickly to avoid degradation of the final product. Various methods, such as twin-screw presses and enzyme treatments, are used for protein extraction from leaves, to separate them from other compounds.

Aquatic plant Lemma
The aquatic plant Lemma – Image courtesy of Plantible

Revolutionising protein production

Various companies produce Rubisco as an ingredient for high-value plant-based foods. Plantible, a US startup using the aquatic plant Lemna to produce various functional ingredients, including a methylcellulose alternative and an egg replacer.

The Leaf Protein Co., from Australia, also leverages agricultural leaf waste to extract proteins to make an ingredient for foods and Leaft Foods from New Zealand, secured $15 million for its leaf-derived protein in 2022.

“The name ‘Day 8’ is rooted in the belief that the world was created in seven days, and on the eighth day, it becomes our responsibility to protect and nurture it. In this symbolic eighth day, we find our purpose – to safeguard the planet and its resources by revolutionizing the way we produce and consume food,” shares Day 8 on its website.

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